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Do I UNDERwater?

This is a discussion on Do I UNDERwater? within the General Orchid Culture forums, part of the Orchid Culture category; We've all heard it, most orchids are killed by too much watering. I have always ...

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  1. #1
    dahlia_guy is offline Member
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    Default Do I UNDERwater?

    We've all heard it, most orchids are killed by too much watering. I have always thought it was best to error on the safe side and let them dry out a little. I try to pot all of my orchids in a medium that allows them all to be watered as often as each other. Example: The paphs and phrags get a medium that will stay wet longer than the medium used for the catts and dends. This allows me to water everyone on the same schedule.

    That being said I water my orchids once a week. I grow them in clay pots in a bark mix of one kind or another.

    I have started to notice a few plants showing signs of distress. A catt. has leathery leaves and a Onc. has a PB that has begun to shrivel. Immedietly I think, "They have something wrong with their roots that is preventing then from taking up the water they need". But since I water so infrequently maybe not....

    Heck I don't know. I moved them outside today so they will be on a whole new watering schedule but it gives me something to think about.

    Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    Jmoney's Avatar
    Jmoney is offline Senior Member
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    Default

    I'd give the plant the old wobble test, and then I'd flip the pot upside down (while supporting the plant) and let the mix pour out. If you do this right before a scheduled watering, you'll be instantly able to tell if the mix is too dry. If the roots are good, then just scoop the media back in--no harm done to the plant and minimal root disturbance. If it's underwatering, a gradual increase in watering frequency oughta give you quick results.

  3. #3
    PAGrower is offline Senior Member
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    I think it's really, really difficult to maintain the same watering schedule for the same type of orchid in different stages of growth let alone different varieties. I salute you for trying, but it would be impossible for me.

    For me, once a week is usually not often enough to water at this time of year, but I'm not in the Pacific Northwest, either. Depending on your temps and the number of overcast days it may be perfect for you.

  4. #4
    Máire is offline Member
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    In the past I've overwatered and underwatered. Using a wide variety of pots and wooden baskets I've yet to develop the talent to lift one and accurately determine the moisture level. I certainly can't tell by the medium at the top. So I'm resigned at this point to keeping silly wooden skewer sticks stuck in all my pots. It's really been an eye opener though as to how fast my seedlings dry out and long my big pots stay wet.

    I think the watering bit is the biggest frustration of growing these guys. At least for me. I've really come to appreciate my no-brainer mounted collection that I can water daily without concern!

    Máire

  5. #5
    PAGrower is offline Senior Member
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    I think the watering bit is the biggest frustration of growing these guys.
    So very true. My own tendency is to err on the side of generosity in the warm months and stinginess once the temps start dropping below 50. There is nothing more unhappy than a cold, wet orchid.

  6. #6
    LJA's Avatar
    LJA
    LJA is offline OrchidTalk Tech Admin
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    Dahlia-guy, we do the same thing you do: pot the plants in mixes that hold more or less water depending on type so that we can water everything all at once. If I had to water this today, that tomorrow, the first thing one day later, the next thing wait a week, the third thing the day after tomorrow, well, watering would become a nightmare. Ideally, the only thing that should change is watering frequency for everybody, and that would depend on temperature and season.

    Of course, there will be exceptions. But I'd rather have just a few exceptions to keep track of than a whole collection of them, where everything is an exception, all of the time.

    (Sheesh, just thinking about it makes me like this !!

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