Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!

If the orchid is not growing as it should or appears ill, the watering method may be the cause. There is a lot of watering advice available, but how is it right? The plant expert provides comprehensive information on orchid watering.

orchid grower

With the professionals of the orchid growers, neither dipping nor watering in the classic sense is usually used. Here the orchids are usually showered by being hosed down in the same way with a garden hose and shower attachment or an automatically functioning irrigation system. This represents a middle ground between immersion and watering. Normally, this method can be used at home when dealing with houseplants.

Especially in larger orchid farms, another type of irrigation is usually not possible. Although it works well, it must also be noted that in greenhouses, optimal and continuously constant site conditions usually prevail. This is usually not the case on the windowsill at home, which is why special procedures are required here or the immersion bath is preferred.

washing type

Sensitive orchids often react to incorrect watering and/or incorrect procedures with illnesses, which in the worst case can lead to the death of the plants. The right type of watering and a few details that you should pay attention to are all the more important. Whether the immersion bath or conventional watering, many opinions differed here. The plant expert will tell you everything you need to know about what the Orchidaceae like best and the best way to water them.


natural irrigation

Orchids originate from the tropical rain forests, where they are naturally irrigated, be it from the high humidity or from rain. In particular, epiphytic orchids that grow on plants or trees are dependent on natural watering, since they do not connect to a host plant at any point from which they could obtain water.

The challenge in their homeland is that heavy rain showers and dry periods last for a long time. This is how the orchid learned to store water in order to get through longer periods of drought. For local specimens, this means that they don't need to be watered/watered daily due to their water retention, and ideally shouldn't either. In addition, rainwater usually runs off unhindered in nature, so that waterlogging cannot occur.


Nature-like irrigation method

What the Orchidaceae likes best, conclusions can be drawn about their original habits and characteristics as they existed in nature in their country of origin: strong watering that lasts for a short time and then drying off. With the right approach, this can be achieved above all with a short-term full irrigation such as with an immersion bath, but also with a powerful shower.


Conventional watering is the most common type of watering for indoor plants in European regions. However, this is not always the best method, especially if certain details are not taken into account. In addition, it should not be forgotten that conventional watering does not correspond to the natural irrigation system. In other words, watering properly is the best way to meet the water needs of an Orchidaceae, although it's not the species' favorite method.

The greatest danger when watering is overwatering, which inevitably leads to the death of the plants. A distinction is made between watering orchids in culture pots and special pots and standing in an orchitop.

Planter Orchids

The principle with planter orchids is that the integrated water reservoir is regularly filled up so that rising moisture is created, which can rise up to the leaves. As a rule, the flower is poured over the substrate every few days, depending on the temperature and light conditions. Excess water flows into the planter and into the water reservoir.

With this and the moisture generated, the plant can also draw water over the roots if necessary if the substrate is too dry. But this might put a strain on them, so this is not the most optimal idea. In addition, when watering potted plants, you run the risk of too much water getting into the bottom of the pot and the aerial roots of the orchid being permanently in the water. This provokes root rot and often means death.


If you absolutely want to water, the orchid prefers an orchitope. This is a mostly translucent planter that stands on a saucer. Here you fill in the irrigation water and let the plants soak up the roots and the substrate. The advantage of this method is that you have a better overview of the water level and can see when the plant needs water, namely when the saucer is empty.

However, there is one negative point to mention, which comes with the water storage. The culture pot must be deeply filled with substrate so that the water also reaches the aerial roots that are above. If the Orchidaceae has evenly distributed roots and is firmly planted in a loose, absorbent substrate, the orchid will also like the orchid's watering method.

immersion bath

The immersion bath is particularly good for an orchid, as long as you do it correctly and wait for the right moment. Plants with a high water requirement and hanging flowers generally like immersion baths, with orchids benefiting from the resulting high degree of moisture, also during evaporation.

However, with the sensitive plant it is not enough to simply place the pot in a bucket filled with water. Important details should be taken into account so that quantities of water do not suddenly flow onto them that the roots cannot absorb so quickly.

Correct procedure:

  • Fill buckets or tubs with lime-free water - prefer rainwater to tap water
  • Select fill level below the height of the culture pot
  • Water should be lukewarm - never use cold water!
  • mix a little fertilizer into the water
  • Let the pot slowly slide into the water at a slight angle
  • at the same time water the substrate from above
  • Stand the plant upright just before the bottom of the bucket/tub
  • leave in the immersion bath for some time
  • well saturated roots turn green
  • then set it aside for at least an hour to drain excess water in the sink or similar
  • only when no more water runs out of the pot, put the plant back in its pot/orchitop
  • Dive Duration: Depending on the site environment, between 20 minutes and an hour
  • Immersion bath rhythm: about one to two weeks or longer if additional watering is used
  • Basically: the wetter and cooler the environment, the shorter the dive time and longer the bath breaks

TIP: If you need to be quick and use a closed planter, filling the planter with water replaces the immersion bath. However, it must not be forgotten to take them out of the water again and let the plant drain, otherwise there is a risk of rotting.

Hanging orchids

The situation is slightly different with hanging orchid plants. Here the roots are hung in the immersion bath instead of being placed in it. Again, do not forget that the plants are given sufficient time to drain well.

shower bath

A shower bath is a kind of alternative mix of soaking and spraying off, as practiced by most orchid growers. Here, the roots receive the water mainly from above and draw it from below only from water accumulations that result from showering.

Shower bathing should only be done between late spring and late summer when ambient temperatures are warm. The advantage of the shower bath is that, in addition to the massive water supply, the leaves absorb water at the same time and the supply routes to the upper plant area are therefore shorter. This means that water absorption of the entire plant is guaranteed. In addition, the orchidaceae are dusted off by the shower bath.


  • Take the plant out of the planter
  • only use lukewarm and low-lime water
  • Place the orchid in a tub with the culture pot
  • choose a light water pressure for the shower
  • always start from the top and work down
  • shower each sheet from the back as well
  • carefully remove dust in corners to open pores for oxygen intake
  • After showering, let the water that has collected on the substrate surface soak in or carefully pour it off
  • Important: set the plant up long enough to drain
  • Dry off any accumulations of water in the leaf axils with kitchen paper
  • only put them back in the cachepot when no more water runs out of the substrate
  • After showering, never put orchids back in their sunny spot, but let them dry first
  • shower rhythm: depending on the temperature, once or twice a week or only when needed and if the soil is dry
  • Best time: in the morning when the metabolism has started to work - never shower in the evening

TIP: You should not shower your orchids if the tap water contains too much lime. This leaves unsightly stains on the leaves that are difficult or impossible to remove.

The perfect dive/shower moment

It has been theoretically clarified that orchids prefer immersion and shower baths to conventional watering, but this alone is far from completely satisfying them. The right time must be chosen, because too much water promotes putrefaction and too few baths and showers prevent optimal water supply/storage. The specified immersion and shower bath rhythms are only average values. High temperatures cause plants to dry out faster, high humidity means the orchid needs less water, as does shady locations.

It also depends on the respective substrate or the ingredients. If this is additionally enriched with water-storing or water-repellent additives, the frequency of watering also changes. To help you recognize the perfect moment for a shower or immersion, you can use the following features as a guide.

  • light weight of the plant in the culture pot: needs water
  • heavy culture pot: no need for water
  • silvery shimmering roots: needs water
  • green roots: sufficient moisture present
  • Drops of water vapor on the overpot or culture pot: no need for water
  • When in doubt, it is better to water less than once too much


Orchids love what comes closest to their natural watering, as they are used to from nature. These are the immersion bath and the shower bath, with the latter being used by orchid growers themselves in order to ensure optimal rearing. However, while these can usually create/maintain optimal and always constant environmental conditions as well as water doses and irrigation rhythms, you have to pay attention to a few important details with the immersion/shower bath so that your orchids also benefit from it and thank you with healthy growth and abundance of flowers. With the instructions here, you will be able to do this easily.

Help the development of the site, sharing the article with friends!