“I over watered my phalaenopsis! I kept it with me for 2 years but now when I see it fading away my heart goes down. Its leaves have turned yellow, the blooms have fallen off and I am sure its roots are dying too now. I love my plant but I do not understand where I have gone wrong. Please someone help me. I would do anything to save my beautiful phalaenopsis!”
This is a common enough problem with many orchid growers, particularly for beginners as they sometimes don’t know how much watering is required for a particular type of orchid. No matter what type of orchids you have, if it is over-watered it would be become sick and eventually die. That is why it is important to pay proper attention to your orchids and determine whether they are being watered properly or are you just over-watering them!
Why is too much water dangerous for your orchid’s health? Well, because too much water sitting around stops the oxygen from reaching the roots, leading to root rot and a loss of vital nutrients. That is why, in order to restore the health of your orchid it is essential that you have healthy roots and if a diagnosis is performed at the right time, you can easily save the plant and restore it back to blooming again. So if your plant looks sick don’t give up, start the treatment right away!
The first step to save an over-watered orchid is to diagnose the damage the water has done to your plant. Generally, an over- watered orchid leaves turn soft and yellow, its blooms fall off before opening and its roots become soggy, mushy and black.
Factors that affect watering
Unfortunately there are many factors that affect the water schedule, and each breed has different water needs. That is why before you develop a water schedule, you should keep these factors in mind:
- Potting media
Different potting media retain different amounts of water. If the media is able to retain water longer, it would need water less frequently. E.g. Pine Bark Nuggets need less water than charcoal, clay pets or mounted plants.
Different orchids need different water intake. Thus, if you are a beginner, start with only two of your most favorite varieties.
Temperature is another important factor because if the temperature of the orchid’s surroundings is high, the need of water would increase; whereas, in cooler temperatures, the need for water diminishes substantially.
Most orchids require between 60 – 80% humidity levels to flourish. When the humidity level in the growing area decreases, then the need for water intake increases to a certain extent. You have to find the balance for your orchids in your conditions.
- Air flow
Generally, orchids love fresh air around their roots and leaves. But excess air can dry them up resulting in an increased need of water intake.
If the orchid’s roots are slightly damaged, you just need to repot the orchid in a clay pot using fresh potting mix. In addition, you should also set the water schedule of the orchid (ensuring that the orchid is watered in the morning only). Humidity level and temperatures should also be adjusted in the growing area to provide optimum growing conditions for the plant.
However, if the orchid’s roots are severely damaged, then proper attention and care is required to nurse the plant back to health. The following 6 step process is the best way to deal with restoring your orchid plant if it has suffered excessive root damage due to being over watered:
- Gently remove the plant from the pot and slide the roots out, making sure that no further damage occurs to them. Toss off any potting media that is attached to the root.
- Sterilize the blades of the pruning shears in rubbing alcohol. Cut out any brown, mushy and rooted roots at least ¼ inches. The roots should be handled very carefully as they can easily break and can cause more damage to the plant.
- Drain out any stagnant water from the drainage tray and thoroughly wash out the container and the drainage tray with soapy water. Take out any fragments clogging the drainage holes. Clean them with tap water and then dry them with a cloth or a paper towel.
- Now fill the pot with ample amount of bark mix into the container (with drainage holes). Wet the bark mix slightly with tap water allowing the excess water to drain out, but make sure that the media does not become soggy.
- Pour down the damp media in the lowermost part of the orchid’s pot. Softly place the roots in the pot, now put in extra bark around the roots and then cover it.
- Put the orchid back on the drainage tray. Water the orchid thoroughly only if the bark mixture is completely dry 1 to 2 inches down. Drain out the excess water from the pot and the drainage tray.
- Lastly, place a clean, dried tray under the pot and wait for the orchid to blossom up again.
It is important that you keep an eye on the drainage of the pot once you have repotted your orchid and have started to water it normally. Ensure that you remove any excess water and put your orchid in a place with good air circulation along with ample indirect sunlight, as both are essentials for healthy blossoming of the plant. This way you can save your over-watered plant and enjoy it as it grows into a healthy and blooming plant once more!
Have you over-watered an orchid? Were you able to save it? Leave a comment below and tell us how you saved your over-watered orchid.
Here’s an article with more information about repotting your orchid.