How to Water Your Orchids Correctly, so They Don’t Die

*This post may contain affiliate links. Purchases made from these links help with any costs associated with running this site, at no additional cost to you. I only recommend products and services I use and believe in! You can find my full disclosure here.

How to water your orchids

There is really only one correct way to water an orchid. Watering them the wrong way can kill them. Caring for orchids the right way will mean years of enjoyment. Keep reading to learn how to water your orchids!

How to water your orchids

They’re so beautiful!

Even when not in bloom the plant itself adds so much to a room.

Click here for some styling tips for Orchids in your home.

Why wouldn’t you want them around for as long as possible?

I mean, look at that! Absolutely stunning!

The perfect addition to any home.

Don't let their intimidating beauty fool you, Orchids are actually very easy to care for! Click To Tweet

A little about orchids

The orchid is probably one of the most misunderstood plants.

Many folks think that an orchid needs lots of humidity and water in order to survive.



While it’s true they do grow in the rain forest, they grow on the sides of trees.

There is no damp soil on the side of a tree, even in the rain forest.

The roots of the orchid are mostly exposed.


How do I know if my orchid needs water?

Overwatering is probably the number one killer of household orchids. Click To Tweet

Underwatering is a problem as well.

But they’ll let you know if you’ve been neglecting them.

The leaves will get wrinkly and droopy.

You can see in the next photo the wrinkles are pretty obvious.

How to water your orchids

The leaves should be plump with very little or no lines at all.

Similar to a healthy succulent.

Another indication of needing water is dry bark.

The bark that the orchid is planted in should be moist.

The roots of the orchid draw the water from the bark and the air as needed.

How to water your orchids

Skip the Ice Cubes!

Overwatering is such a problem with these plants that some resort to using ice cubes.

The idea behind this is to prevent root rot.

However, ice is just too cold for them.


Bonsai Trees


So, for the love of all things orchid…

No, no, no…

Just don’t!

It damages the roots.

These tropical plants in their natural environment get warm-ish water.

Not ice water.

See how these roots have turned black and brown.

They are dying.

The ice was placed directly on the roots.

Learn from my mistakes!

I almost killed this one 🙁

How to water your orchids

The roots should be plump and bright green like this…



How to water your orchids

The orchid I am watering today is almost a year old.

My husband bought it for me for Valentine’s day last year.

I have gotten it to rebloom three times since then.

And now it’s growing a whole new plant from the stem!

That little baby plant is called a Keiki.

How to water your orchids once a week

Watering once a week for me is ideal.

In places with high humidity, you may be able to get away with once every two weeks.



You’ll notice in storebought orchids there are two containers.

The one holding the actual plant has large holes for good drainage.

And is usually plastic.

The second container is usually a decorative piece.

You can find all kinds of decorative containers for your orchids.

If you decide to change things up a bit, just be sure there are no drainage holes so that you can properly water your orchids! 🙂

To water the orchid you want to soak the bark that it is potted in.

To do this run lukewarm water directly on the bark until it is completely full.

Be careful to not get water in between the leaves.

Orchids are extremely susceptible to root and leaf rot!

Don’t fret if you accidentally get water between the leaves.

Just dab it with a dry cloth and blow out any droplets left with your mouth.

How to water your orchids

Tap water is perfectly acceptable!

You don’t want it to overflow and cause the bark to float out.

However, you do want the bark fully submerged and floating, like this…

How to water your orchids

Let the plant soak in the water for 20-30 minutes.

Pull the inner plastic container out and allow all the water to drain out.

A minute or two is just fine.



How to water your orchids

Be sure to dump the water that collected in the decorative container.

If the roots are allowed to sit in water, they will rot.


Return the plastic pot back to the decorative pot.

Your orchid has now been properly watered!

No humidifier needed! Nothing fancy, just a good soaking of the bark once a week.

Here in Colorado, it is very dry.

The winter is the worst especially with a wood stove as a heat source.

Sucks the moisture out of the air faster than you can say “dry.”

That being said, I have been able to successfully grow orchids in my home.

Do you have orchids in your home?

What are some of the ways you have used them in your home decor?

How to water your orchids

Have a wonderful day!

🙂 Leigh Ann


Leigh Ann Schooley is the owner and founder of Making My Abode, a blog dedicated to helping homemakers live well and simply on one income. She is a believer, wife, and mother of three with more than sixteen years of homemaking experience. Leigh Ann is the recipient of the Wife of The Year award eighteen years running. She has also won the Mother of The Year award every year for the past sixteen years. She is a Colorado native raised by her dad who taught her almost everything she knows. Leigh Ann lives with her husband and family in Colorado.

40 comments on “How to Water Your Orchids Correctly, so They Don’t Die

  1. Wow, what great information. I have tried the ice cubes…lost the orchid. A lady told me to soak the plants in a sink of water, overnight…lost the orchid. Someone said to sprits them every day…lost the orchid. About to give up. I have one plant left…I follow your instructions.
    Thank you,

    • You’re welcome Jennie! Good luck! πŸ™‚ Also Don’t forget that they don’t like to get too cold or too hot. I lost a couple that way :(. The lowest temp I’ve had mine at was 50 degrees F and the highest 90 degrees F. They’re still doing well which makes my heart happy!! β™₯

      • Hi Leigh Ann, thank you for putting this on Pinterest. I have been looking for info for years but have only ever found info that was technical. Yours sounds so easy and sensible.

          • If the roots start turning brown an the leaves have a couple of brown spots on them what should you do ?is it possible to keep it once it gets to this point

          • Hi Lynn. Even though orchids are fairly easy to take care of they can be finicky about their environment. Too much or not enough sunlight could be the problem. They need filtered light. A sheer curtain on a window is fine. Too much or not enough water could also be the problem. Water only once per week. If the problems don’t resolve from this it could be a fungus or bacteria. In which case you might need to destroy the plant. I have never had this issue so I don’t know much about bacterial infections in orchids. The American Orchid Society is a great source!

    • Thk u sooo much for your step by step directions on how to care for my orchid I lost one bc the directions said to only use ice cubes to water 😑now I am going to get another one and follow your directions Thk u again

    • Just wanted to say thank you. I will try again, hopefully armed with my new information be successful. Thanks again. From Sandra NY

  2. I had a white orchid that my son bought me ..I had it for about 6 years and I dropped it while UI was moving it ..Biigg and beautiful . ..Thought I had ruined it and threw it out..It had the most delicate scent ..I have orchids but they don’t have any smell u know what kind of orchid it was and where to get another?..thanks .

  3. Thank you for the β€œHow to water…” article. I have a question: I have to be out of town later this summer and will not have anyone to water my Orchids-any advice is appreciated.
    J. M.

    • You’re welcome! I would say it depends on how long you have to be out of town. Luckily orchids are fairly hardy. If you miss a week of watering your orchids should tolerate that just fine. I wouldn’t skip more than 2 weeks of watering, but even an orchid on the brink can be brought back with a little TLC. If it were me I would fill a tray with medium to large-sized rocks, cover the rocks with water, and set the orchids on top of the rocks. The idea is that the water will evaporate and provide enough moisture to get through your out of town trip. I would say the biggest thing would be to keep the temp in your home between 60-80 degrees while you’re gone! Hope this helps πŸ™‚ Thanks for reading! β™₯

      • Hi there, have had orchids for decades. There is a “plant lady” tip for being away from home , that will work for a couple of weeks. ( A “plant lady”, is the person [ female usually] who looks after plants for corporations, business, banks, malls, etc.) Before you leave home ,water your plants with tepid water that has a drop or two of liquid soap in the water. Just enough that if you froth the water with your hand, it starts to show a little bubbling. SOAP not detergent. The soap causes the water molecules to bind to the soil tighter, making it more difficult for the plant to pull the available water up. The plant does work harder but suffers no ill affects. That methodology can be used 2-4 times a year, at spaced intervals with no harm to the plant . sign me, an old plant lady..πŸ™‚

  4. What if the pot i have does not have another pot inside. Mine was from the grocery store, and the pot its in looks like a puddle, no shape to it, kinda squiggle all around. My Mom (the orchid guru) told me to just put a bit of water and then flip it upside down so it drains. Do you replant your orchids? i might change pots on mine.

    • Your mom is right, you could do that but it seems like a pain in the rear right? Personally I would replant it. Orchids are much hardier than we tend to think. I have repotted a couple of my orchids with great success! In fact, I have a Keiki (a baby plant that sprouted from the mother plant) that I will be repotting this week! I really like Miracle Grow Orchid Potting Mix. Check the type of orchid you have! When you buy a plant from the store there is usually a tag with the name and care instructions.

  5. Maybe I’ve just been one of the lucky ones. I just couldn’t get a good understanding of the proper water for my Orchid. Neither ice or weekly soaking was working and the roots began to die. I read that Orchid would and would not do well in water alone but I gave it a try just the same for about three months and the roots started to grow back very strong. So I removed it from the water and have now replanted it back into a pot wit good drainage and some Fer Bark and I will now try your suggested method…. Wish me luck.

    • Good luck! I have had great success with this method and so have many others. It sounds like the soaking method you tried may have brought back an orchid that was dying. Some good quality orchid food might be a good idea as well.

    • Hi Cynthia! Thank you! β™₯ I use Miracle Grow Orchid Potting Mix, the coarse blend. It is specifically formulated for Epiphyte Orchids: Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, Epidendrum & Dendrobium orchids. These are the most commonly found orchids in stores πŸ™‚

  6. Thanks for this. I am a complete novice however what I’m doing is working! I appreciate the link to the keiki as I had one appear and wasn’t sure what to do. They’re gorgeous plants and so enjoyable to grow

  7. thank you for the info!
    I had a large orchid that was given to me for valentines and I would water it 6oz like it instructed but died.
    I got another orchid last week as an anniversary present and I was told by a friend whos had her orchid for a year that she only waters hers once a week but does only 2 tablespoons of water.
    What are your thoughts on that?
    I pour the water right on the roots would that be an issue?
    also two of the bottom leaves went from a deep green to a light green almost yellowish color, why would that be? thank you for your help!

    • You’re welcome! The two tablespoons once a week is good. It can work well for some folks. I live in a very dry place. High mountain dessert. This method did work for me because of the lack of humidity. Water directly on roots is not a problem, just the ice. It’s way too cold and can damage the roots. The yellowing of leaves could be disease or it just needs more water. Hope this helps! Good luck!

  8. Whoops. Thought my first comment was posted. I have been watering my orchid once a week with lukewarm water. It sits in a window but not with direct sunlight. All the blooms have dropped. What did I do wrong!!!?

  9. Hello Leigh Ann, thank you for the great info. I have repotted my orchid in a mixture of western fir bark, charcoal and perlite (found at Home Depot). So there is only one pot, no soaking pot to it. I water it every 8-10 days, pouring water on the bark, but never to the point of soaking it. My Orchid always flowers around Christmas, every year (had it for at least 5 years). This is the first year my Orchid did not flower ☹️. What am I doing wrong? πŸ™πŸ»

  10. This is a GREAT tutorial on caring for orchids. I would also add that it doesn’t hurt to let them dry out between waterings. When I water, I submerge the bark and roots underwater for up to a couple of hours, then thoroughly drain and replace it into its decorative container. Another commenter was concerned about flower drop. That is the natural cycle. After the flowers drop, cut the stem above the lowest nodule. Typically it will sprout a new air-root, then another leaf before growing another stem with multiple orchid blooms.

  11. Leigh Ann, I have another sort of question. When you buy an orchid it is usually potted with soil and bark…is this correct. Should the plant just have bark? So confusing to me.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.