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Thread: Orchid Water Culture!!!!

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Default Orchid Water Culture!!!!

    A greeting to all the orchid lovers,

    It has been a year now since I have been 'bitten' by the 'orchid bug' and since then my life had completely changed. It was exactly one year ago that I bought my first orchid (a pink phal) in Ikea when we first moved to Holland. A year later I have around 15 orchids and hopefully more to come.

    Since I had no experience with orchids before, I read all I could about them on the internet. Firstly I had only phal's and then as a gift my stepmother bought me an Oncidium Sweet Sugar Angel who had the fullest spike of beautiful golden flowers that I had ever seen.

    Sadly I later discovered as I was repotting it that due to the way they were watering them in the shop (they watered them everyday like regular houseplants) all it's roots were completely rotten and I even found snails inside!!!!

    I wondered what to do and searched some more on the internet. I thought about using the bag method, I tried that but it didn't work and I was truly afraid of loosing my new baby. So I did the unthinkable, and placed him in a glass of water. Before you start attacking me that orchids do not grow in water, here's a picture I would like to show you that was taken a year later since my first experiment.

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    You see the long green vine-like things down there? That is the new rootgrowth that has wrapped itself around the two wooden sticks I used as a support (I was planning to repot it, but now I can't get it out of the glass)

    Also, at a sale I bought 3 pink fragrant twinkle oncidiums (1 euro each) but back then I had some problems and had fallen into a great depression and had neglected them When I came back to my senses, the damage was irriverisble (or so I thought) so I cut down all of their roots and placed them with the other oncidium in the same glass, and here is how they look like after 3 months:

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Size:  57.5 KB two pictures of my Beallara Cambria who has a new spike and hopefully will soon bloom again (I bought her in February-March)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2006

    Default Some more pictures

    Here is a picture of the ondotoglossum hybrid that I placed in a tea-cup after all it's roots had died (I should really buy healthy orchids from now on) It is adapting ok.

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    Since I'm a sucker for bargains, I continued to buy cheap, but beautiful orchids who all had one thing in common: bad roots. So apart from growing 2 oncidiums in water, I also have 2 cambrias and 2 dendrobiums who are adjusting perfectly to their new aquatic surroundings. But the biggest achievement was when my cymbidium (due to my own overwatering) started to die on me. I was devestated because it was my favorite (not to mention biggest and most expensive) orchid. It had beautiful vanilla colored flowers and I truly adored it. I cut off the roots and placed it in a jar of water as well, and a six months later you can see the results:

    And here are three pictures of my precious oncydium (that I nearly killed )

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    Just look at the root growth. It's root has become so long that it started growing out of the mug! When its roots grow long enough I'm sure I'll repot it, but until now my baby remains were it is.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Oh, and if you're wondering how my dendrobiums are doing (in water) then just take a look at this:

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    My two dendrobiums and an Oncidium Twinkle ‘Red Fantasy’ (that got vicisouly attacked by a catarpillar)

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    No roots yet, but I have leaf growth.

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    This is the most beautiful thing that I discovered when I returned from my vacation. I could not believe my eyes! I wasn't too sure if my dendrobium would survive but when I returned I found this little baby growing on the side. I can't wait till the roots grow longer and I can repot him!

    Well I hope that you learned from my experience that orchids can grow on trees, in soil and even in water. For me this is the easiest way to take care of them, since I can always see what is happening with the roots and the only thing I have to do is just add some water, and change water when the visibility becomes too poor in the glasses.

    I hope you liked what you saw, and feel free to ask me questions and I'll try to answer them as wel as I can.

  4. #4
    My Grow Area
    On a Windowsill.
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Phal & Cat
    Join Date
    Jun 2006


    The first time I hear about growing orchid in water. It's amazing experiment!!! You turn us upside down, hihihi. What kind of water do you use? tap, RO, pure water. Do you add fertilizer or anything else to water? I don't think it's good way to grow orchid in water but if orchid can stay in water for few weeks or more we may try to stimulate/grow new root like we do with tree.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Thanks for your reply. I use tap water even though I read somewhere that distilled water also works. I have 19 orchids, and all my phals bloom all year through (one of my phals is blooming for the 4th time this year) and I've never used any fertilizer. But then again, I live in Holland where the humidity is really high and have excellent lighting and temperature conditions.

    I also agree with you that water may not be the best thing to keep an orchid in, but then again, it works and it works especially with oncidiums, since the bulbs had shriveled when the roots had died, but after a couple of weeks of keeping them in water they filled again and are looking really good.

    I was planning to repot my first oncidium who has been in the water for a year now, but I'm not sure if I'm willing to risk it. He has been doing fine for a year now, so I guess I'll keep him a bit longer in there, and who knows what might happen. :smile:

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Brawley, CA
    Member's Country Flag


    I have a very shriveled oncidium that I was going to give up on. I'm going to try your water therapy. I will keep you posted. The grower had divided it with only 2 pbulbs and repotted it just before shipping. It was in spike and produced a large spray of blooms that lasted 3 months but in spite of all my efforts it shriveled. Perhaps there is some hope for it. We'll see!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    lake worth, florida


    I have tried this water thing to save roots but now that I'm reading what you do I'm realizing that I didn't leave them in there long enough & I panicked when I saw the green stuff. I have a question , do you just leave them in the same water and then just add more as it evaporates ??? I live in south florida & I have about 30 orchids-phals, catt's , dendrob's,oncidiums, vandas, epidendrums, brassias and encylias. I don't know about where you live but where I live I belong to an orchid club and I have a cousin that does not belong but he goes to the meetings. We go to listen to lectures on orchid care it's only once a month. local growers come to the meeting and sell beautiful orchids , blooming for like 5 american dollars a piece and they have between 10-20 that they give away I leave there every month with at least 3-6.
    It's fun , free advice and orchids and there is always a table of snacks................& it's really great if you have a tendency to get depressed, I speak from experience.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2006


    Sorry for not relpying sooner. Yes, as a matter of fact I leave them in the same water since it doesn't smell or look bad. Because a bit of water evaporates daily you just have to add a little bit everytime (this depends on the amount of water that you have, if you have a small amount of water it evaporates faster and you have to refill it nearly every day, but if you have more water, then you have to add every couple of days) Also, when you place the plants in the water after two or three weeks, you will notice that there is some kind of brown stuff on the roots. This is normal, since orchids are not used to live in water, the remaining earth that didn't wash out and parts of the older cut off roots will have started to dissolve. Simply take your plant out of the water and wash off any brown and slimy remains to discover new root growth.

    As for the green stuff, looks like some kind of algea, but it doesn't seem to affect my orchids, not even one bit. It's probably because of the fact that I used a wooden support and perhaps it's from that.

    Also it is important that the water does not smell, for if it does that means that something is rotting in there and that is not what we want to happen. If that is the case, simply remove your orchid from the container, check for any rot and of course change the water. The point is to actually place the plant so that only the bottom touches the water to prevent the rest of the plant from rotting.

    And you are right, orchids really help against depression and so does socializing. Thanks Lara5170, I'll take your advice and find an orchid club here in Holland.

    I wish you all good luck with this experiment.

  9. #9
    Real Name
    Bruce Brown
    My Grow Area
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Cattleyas & Slippers
    Join Date
    Mar 2003
    Member's Country Flag


    Hi! I have been thinking about this since you posted it. I think I understand how growing them in water is working for you. First, the reason why orchid roots usually rot when left in water is lack of oxygen. I think since you keep adding water and changing the water as it gets cloudy, the plants are getting some of the oxygen they need through the water changes. The alge also produces oxygen, so that probably helps too. ( Well, only when it is light out. At night, or when it is dark the alge uses oxygen and produces carbon dioxide so I am not sure if that is actually a help or not. )It would be an interesting experiment to try this for real, but I believe that if someone had the time and patience to do it, one could set up most orchids to grow in water as long as there was oxygen exchanged. For instance, if the water was re-circulated or had a splash fountain or a bubbler, I believe we could grow totally in water-- as long as we keep the plant above the water and the roots in the water.

    I know we have some paphs and phrags that sit next to our cool cell in the GH. They stay continuously wet because of the water 'splash' that the old cool cell produces. At first we worried because the media was always wet, but the plants seem to be fine. The media breaks down a bit faster, but the roots seem very healthy. The only problem is that sometimes water will get on the plant leaves and cause problems, but most of the time the fans take care of that problem.

    Seeing your plants growing in water causes me to wonder what would happen if we were to place a three-inch deep tray of water with a bubbler in it so that it was constantly oxygenated and let some different orchids just 'sit' in their pots in the water. I think they might do fine. The problem would come in the fertilizer. Without changing out the water, the salts could build up and cause issues. Okay chemistry folks out there, would the 'bubbler' cause the salts to evaporate like a humidifier? My guess is 'some' but not enough. Hmmm?

    Anyhoo, that was my random thought for the morning.... lol! Welcome to the forum, Silver Scarab!


  10. #10
    My Grow Area
    Favorite Orchid(s)
    Join Date
    Apr 2006
    Member's Country Flag


    The 'bubbler' would evaporate the water leaving salts, not: "cause the salts to evaporate like a humidifier"

    Especially like if there is small amounts of splashs with a fertilizer solution in it. Get hard water spots in unlikely spots on in your shower? Same principle.

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