Orchid Experiment: Water Culture

Today I wanted to share with you my experience of growing orchids in water culture. I had already heard of this method of growing before one of my viewers asked me for some advice. After talking to them about it, I have been thinking about whether it is a viable growing method.

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From what I understand, water culture is a method of growing orchids that provides a constant supply of water and moisture to your orchid. This method has its benefits and drawbacks (in my opinion) but with a couple of my orchids struggling to grow at the moment, I thought I’d give it a go.

So, I have two orchids that I am trialling this with, both of which are apparently not doing as well as I thought. The first is my Nelly Isler. She was purchased from Ikea last year and has not yet fully recovered. Her newest growth is producing roots but the older pseudo-bulbs are terminating theirs which means that they are beginning to desiccate.

The second, is one that is in the orchid ‘hospital’ because its roots desiccated and died as a result of limited water. He has grown three new roots but doesn’t appear to be doing much with them, and the overall health of the plant is deteriorating.

Rather than repot Nelly in bark, or continue to mist the other orchid, I’ve elected to place them in water culture. They are in glass containers at the moment with water just covering some of their roots. The water is changed every day because the quality of the water deteriorates. I’m hoping that this will help revive their growth a little as they’ll have access to water almost all the time.

Now you’d think that this sudden change would cause problems, particularly if the orchids don’t take to this method of growth. But…I have noticed some improvements already! Whilst Nelly I think isn’t a fan, the other orchid has kick-started his root growth again. Unfortunately I didn’t take a ‘before’ photograph, but the longest root in the picture below is double what it was before, and has only been growing in water for about 5 days. The newest pseudo-bulb has started to plump up a little too 🙂

Sick orchid growing in water culture
This sick orchid has recently started to grow more roots since it was placed into water culture.

Some growers do take their orchid out of water for a few days to allow the plant to dry out a little before being submerged back in again. I’m keeping an eye on moulds etc as the humidity may be high enough to trigger mould growth but we will see.

Fingers crossed, this method will work for both of them and we’ll have more healthy roots on them soon.

Happy growing!

Clare

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