Orchids with their filigree flowers make many a heart beat faster. However, maintenance is not that easy. It is much easier and with the right instructions also suitable for beginners to keep the orchid in water culture.

Aquaculture without soil

Orchids do not necessarily need a substrate to grow. These exotic beauties are found primarily as epiphytes in the tropical rainforests of their homeland. They grow above ground as “seats” on other plants, usually on the branches of trees. There they hold on with their roots. Recently, a hydroponic culture, i.e. a hydroponic or water culture without soil, has also become established among these “divas”.

Benefits of Hydroponics

  • Creation of optimal growth conditions
  • in particular with regard to the required moisture or nutrients
  • well suited for already diseased and weakened plants that have been damp for too long
  • no risk from fungi and bacteria present in the soil
  • less chance of infestation with plant pests
Note: A culture in water is not suitable for all orchids, but especially for epiphytic varieties such as various species of Vanda, Aerides, Neofinetia or Ascocentrum.

Care Instructions

Of course, an orchid without soil also needs regular care. Read here what needs to be considered when watering, fertilizing and cutting in water culture.

ensure water supply

As a rule, epiphytic growing orchids absorb most of the moisture they need from the air. Therefore, in addition to the correct watering, it is important to spray the aerial roots of the exotic beauties with water. The water must be lukewarm and lime-free. Rainwater, stagnant or boiled water is particularly suitable for this. During the flowering period, some orchid liquid fertilizer can be added to the spray water every three to four weeks. The following must also be observed when spraying:

  • Set the spray bottle to the finest setting
  • Spray the plant in the morning
  • this allows her to dry well during the day
  • Don’t wet the flowers
  • Remove any water still present from heart leaves or leaf axils
  • otherwise rot may occur

Spraying the orchid can only increase the humidity around the plant, but does not replace regular watering. Proper guidance is required for this:

  • Water thoroughly once or twice a week during the growth phase
  • Roots must not dry out
  • with green roots no watering necessary
  • Fill the container with water every two to three days
  • Take the orchid out of the pot and put it in the container
  • Plant core and leaf axils must not be wetted
  • Roots need to be well soaked
  • Drain the roots and put them back in the container
  • water only every two weeks during dormancy in winter
Tip: Some hobby gardeners leave the orchid in the water all the time and only change the water once a week. The water level should then not be more than one to two centimeters.

Dose fertilizer well

Of course, a water cultured orchid must also be supplied with nutrients on a regular basis, because there is no substrate from which the plant can draw the nutrients it needs. Even if the exotic flowering wonders are among the weak consumers, regular nutrient additions are necessary, especially during the flowering and growth period, i.e. between June and November :

  • only use liquid special fertilizer for orchids
  • do not use normal flower fertilizer
  • Add liquid fertilizer to the immersion or irrigation water
  • every two to three weeks during flowering and growth
  • Leave the roots in the fertilizer solution for about 10 minutes
  • must be able to suckle well
  • When preparing the fertilizer solution, only use half the amount specified for orchid cultivation in the substrate
  • otherwise salt content is too high
  • Stop fertilizing during dormancy from December to January
  • Only fertilize perpetually blooming orchids in winter
  • but then only every 6 to 8 weeks

For orchids that have just been placed in water culture, you should wait four to six weeks before applying the first fertilizer.

Don’t forget to cut back

Even an orchid in culture without soil needs a pruning from time to time . This is also part of hydroponics. This must be done carefully and prudently:

  • no pruning of green plant parts
  • Cuts can promote disease
  • This also blocks the storage of nutrient residues in roots and bulbs
  • in addition, these parts of the plant can rot
  • only cut off dead aerial roots, leaves, bulbs and shoots
  • Do not cut yellow, dried leaves, but carefully twist them out
  • apply rock flour, charcoal ash, or cinnamon to cuts
Note: Only use sharp and disinfected cutting tools to cut the orchid (and plants in general). This significantly reduces the risk of infection.

Right choice of location

For good growth and needs-based care, an orchid needs a high humidity of at least 80 percent in a culture without soil. Otherwise the roots can easily dry out. A lot of light is also required. However, direct sunlight should be avoided. When choosing the location , the following should be considered

  • bright but sunlit
  • Protection from the blazing midday sun
  • Additional lighting may be necessary in winter
  • East or west windows or air-conditioned plant showcases are ideal
  • alternatively place in the conservatory or warm, humid bathroom

frequently asked Questions

How are orchids prepared for hydroponics?

First, the orchids are carefully lifted out of the pot and all substrate such as moss or pieces of bark are carefully removed. After that, the roots are thoroughly rinsed with water. There must be no more adhesions. All rotten and dead roots are then cut away with sharp and disinfected scissors. If there are more rotten root sections, some cinnamon, hydrogen peroxide or antifungal powder should be added to the water bath to better disinfect the roots.

Which containers are suitable for a culture without soil?

In fact, any container is suitable. However, a hydroponic orchid looks beautiful in a jar, especially a hyacinth jar. There is also the opportunity to observe the growth of the plant. The container does not have to be particularly deep. However, slightly arched sides would be helpful to give the orchid a secure footing. Alternatively, some clay pebbles on the ground can support the roots. In addition, rotting can also be prevented in this way.

What must be considered when inserting the orchid?

The roots must be well spread out in the container. In addition, it is important to ensure that the leaves and also the flower stalk protrude over the edge of the container. Otherwise, too little oxygen reaches the leaves and flowers. Fungal infections can then quickly develop. With one hand on the root collar, the plant can be well fixed. The best time to hydroponic an orchid is either before or after flowering.

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