Start a new thread

1 to 20 of 31 replies

The Bird Lady

I've been given an orchid for my birthday - can I water it with tap water or does it require something special?

I have been the carer of several moth orchids..phalenopsis ..for a few years and they continue to flower and grow. Mine get watered with  room temperature tap water I plunge them in a bowl  to their rims for about 20 mins once every 7 to 10 days. In the warmer months I use a week tomato fertiliser feed in the bowl. It works for me. 

If your tap water is calcareous, you should avoid watering your orchid with it. Most orchids, except Cymbidium and Paphiopedilum prefer rain water, bottled water low in calcium, or water obtained through reverse osmosis.

It depends on your tap water quality and what kind of orchid you got.

The Bird Lady

Thanks for the responses - it is phalenopsis. 

I understand that it is better to water from below and the instruction card that came with it says not to remove it from its pot.  Will it not become potbound over time?  The other thing that it says is to cut off the flower spike when it's finished - what happens after that?

flowering rose

do not water with tap water unless it has stood for 24hrs as they do not like the chemicals in it they like rain water,heat,misting,and grow in bark as they grow on not water until bone dry and do not leave standing in a bright but not too sunny a spot and you feed them when in flower with orchid feed or tomato feed once a month.


Jean-Marie le Bars, what water do cymbidium prefer? I've been 'plunging' mine once a week in rain water, but the ends of some of the leaves are looking a bit yellow and would it prefer a clear pot to the black one it's in? It does look a bit pot bound but should I repot or do they like it like that? thankyou for any advice you can give.

It seems that everybody has different ideas of how to treat orchids.  All I can tell you is what has worked for me, and we have about a dozen which are now flowering for a second year. This is phalaenopsis type.

I use tepid tap water and plunge the pot in to the water for about 10 minutes approximately every 7 to 10 days.  If the 'roots' are bright and fleshy it doesn't need watering, if they start to look soft they need watering. 

During the summer months I stood them all outside in a bright car port and mist sprayed straight from the garden hose once a week or so.

I experimented with cutting the flower shoot right back and to within a couple of nodes of the bottom.  It didn't really make any noticable difference to the way it threw out the new stems.  Do be careful with the new stems as they can be quite brittle and the tip is very easy to knock off as I discovered .  Good news it that it has since flowered again.

As they are only in their second year I've not had cause to consider repotting yet.

@lisa massey : Cymbidiums do best with some calcium ions in their medium (soil). It can be given trough tap water (if yours is calcareous), or you can add a little bit of dolomite, crushed chalk, crushed shell...

@the Bird Lady : thare are two ways of dealing with Phalaenopsis spikes. When it has finished blooming, I suggest you to try the following : cut the spike about an inch above the third node (or at least above a node that is still fresh and green). It often (but not all the time) triggers reblooming ; a new spike will grow from the node, giving you some extra flowers.

Some botanical Phalaenopsis, and even some hybrids, are able to rebloom 1 time (or several times) on the same spike. The only way to know what will happen is to left your spike uncut. You'll see if it becomes yellow and woody, or if it stays green ; in that case, don't cut it until it has dried.

As an example (for illustration), I have an hybrid Phalaenopsis called "Magic Touch". After it has finished blooming, the spike dries on 1/3 or half of its length. Then it goes dormant. The next year, a new spike emerges, and the old one awakes and produces some new buds ; then it definitely dries. So each flowering spike has some kind of a "2-year lifecycle".

The Bird Lady

This is an amazing plant, although there are no new buds, the flowers still look as fresh as they did back in March!! 

I've got one that I've had for 23 years. It has never been repotted, although I do feed it occasionally with orchid food. Some years it doesn't produce a flower spike, other years I might get 2 or 3. Amazing is right!

The Bird Lady

OK, so now my Orchid has finished flowering, all the flowers have gone and the two spikes have died so I cut them back.  It has some beautiful glossy new leaves and the roots are starting to poke out of the bottom of the pot. 

Should I repot it and if so, when?  I must say I'm very impressed at the flowering period, it was in full flower in March and stayed in flower until the end of August - brilliant!




gardenning granny

gosh - hadn't realised phalenopsis were so complicated - it is the one plant my son manages to maintain healthily whilst I am out of the country for a month at a time.

His recipe for success?... and I have five which have been flowering over the last five years:

They like to be light but not in direct sunlight.

Once a week a pops them in a large washing up bowl - waters from the top with tap water and leaves to stand in the bowl for about one hour.  Then lifts out, drains off exessive water and pops back in their pot-holders taking care to leave the surface roots exposed to the air.

That's it.  They are all flourishig and poroduce new flower spikes regularly.

ps: the ones you buy in Ikea for £5.99 do just as well as any of the others!

The Bird Lady

@ Mike Allen - believe me you are much better off looking at a photo of my best boy Max - I won't be changing it to a picture of me anytime soon! 

An Orchid update - I followed the instructions in the GW mag a while ago, I trimmed some of the roots, potted it in new compost but back in it's original pot, kept it in a transparent container (which seems to be important) and I now have a flower spike - yippee!! 


I got a beautiful Phal from B&Q of all places the other week, (just before Mother's day) 2 stems, white background with dark cerise and purple markings. £5 thank you very much ! I have another 5, a couple of which I got from an orchid grower, named and about (gulp) £15! I was going through what OH called my "orchid period".  Some flower more often than others, but one, which dropped all it's blooms the day after I bought it , it was in a marquee in November, took 3 years before I got it to flower again.


The Bird Lady

Prior to receiving this one, I had never had any interest in Orchids but I think I'm becoming hooked now!