How To Grow Orchids in Water Only: The Correct Steps 

How to grow orchids in water only, is a notion that you may be wondering about. What you should do is to choose a water-loving orchid, fill pure water in a tank/vase, ensure the roots stay submerged, and add fertilizers immediately.

Grow Orchids in Water Only

But it’s more challenging than it looks, and there’s much more to it. Don’t worry; continue reading to know how to grow an orchid in water as easily.

How To Grow Orchids in Water Only With the Right Steps?

To grow an orchid in water, choose the right species first. Then, fill the tank with pure water and carefully put the orchid in it while ensuring the roots stay completely under the liquid. Apply fertilizer weekly and keep the care measures for smooth growth.

1. Choose a Water loving Orchid

The success of water culture largely depends on which orchid you decide to grow, which means that picking the right kind is a crucial key feature, as only some of them have the potential to be grown solely in water. Some like dryness, while some hate to be in water 24/7. So, which orchid varieties are the best for water culture or growing?

For instance, cattleyas are a popular choice because they are water-thirsty orchids. You can also grow a Phalaenopsis orchid in water easily. It is also keen to know that Vanda and Dendrobium are great choices too, because their roots love moisture too. In addition to this, you may also pick Phalaenopsis as this orchid is easier to handle.

2. Choose a Proper Container or Tank

Deciding about the right orchid species does not guarantee success. You have to choose a suitable container or tank too, as many needs to purchase those with lids on them. In this case, a lid is crucial to protect the water and orchids from harmful things.

On another note, you must also consider how the size of the tank should be big, and one of the leading reasons behind the failure of water culture is picking a small container or tank. It should be big enough to provide space for the roots to stretch properly, as well as air circulation is also a factor that depends on the available space after putting in an orchid. In small tanks or containers, air movement is restricted, which can even lead to orchid death in some cases.

Also, the material of the tank matters too, such as plastic or glass are ones are the most recommended because they degrade with time. In this notion, you must remmeber that such tanks are not hard to lift, so that relocation will be easy. Lastly, get a transparent one, as monitoring the roots is much simpler way.

Some people choose a vase instead of a big container or tank. It is a good choice if you are growing mini orchids, like Laelia, Chinese ground, Lepanthes, etc. They don’t have a big root system, so they can easily survive in a vase.

3. Remove Any Discolored or Dead Parts You See

After choosing the right orchid, prepare it for water culture or hydroponics. For this, you should remove any dead or discolored parts you see. It would be best if you did this because such parts can stop the new growth of orchids, and this matter is one to be very focused on as it is an important factor.

When leaves, spikes, buds, or any part of the orchid starts to discolor, the plant spends energy on them to revive. As a result, more energy is needed to produce new growth, which is undesirable when you grow an orchid in water. On the other hand, the discoloration can also be due to diseases, which means that what you should do here is to cut the infected part can stop the spread.

Remove Any Discolored or Dead Parts

You can pluck dead leaves and flowers with your hands carefully because you shouldn’t harm the stems. For other parts, you can use sharp scissors or a knife. Make sure to sterilize gardening tools with a 10 percent bleach solution before you use them, to avoid any type of contamination.

4. Ensure the Water Is Pure

After cutting the dead orchid parts, your focus should shift to water quality. People generally add tap water to the tank, and it’s fine unless it is impure. To check the purity, you can send the water sample to a lab or use test strips.

To be on the safer side, it is best if beginners use rain or distilled water. In addition, you must ensure that the water is also lukewarm or at least at room temperature. The water should always be cool and dry, or the roots will face problems. To measure the current water temperature, you can use a thermometer. Dip it at least two-thirds in water and stay there for one minute for an accurate reading.

5. Fill Water Smartly

The ideal recommended level is that the water level be sufficient to submerge all the roots. Make sure no part of the root stays dry. Also, the liquid should not touch the leaves or any other part. It is because wet orchid parts can lead to root rot.

The best approach is to add some water and then add the rest after you put in the orchid. Stop watering when all the roots get submerged. If you accidentally add more, use a cup or bowl to remove the excess water.

A key factor, in this case, is that the success of water culture depends on how much water you add to a container or tank. Adding more or less can cause stunted orchid growth and even death if the plant feels water-stressed every day.

6. Remove the Pot of the plant

To put an orchid in water, remove it from its pot. However, you cannot unpot the orchid if you have a small tank or vase. For smooth unpotting, you should water orchids and then, grab the orchid stem and carefully pull it upwards. If this is your first time doing this, we suggest you don’t because you may end up hurting the stem.

For beginners, it is best if you invert the orchid pot and giving gentle pats on the back until the plant detaches. Then, remove any potting soil on the roots using a paper towel. After this, soak the roots and clean off any dirt you see. When you do this, you may see some dead roots. Cut them using sterilized sharp scissors or a knife.

Remove the Pot of the plant

Want to avoid going through all of this hassle? There’s an easy way too. You can cut the orchid stem right above the node and put it in the water. Make sure the cutting has lots of aerial roots coming out of it.

In this case, you may also think, can you root an orchid stem in water? Well, of course, you can if you do everything correctly. So, how to grow orchids from cuttings in water? The good news is- the rest of the procedure is the same whether you use stem cutting or by simply removing the pot of the plant.

7. Sterilize the Roots

When you remove an orchid from the pot or cut a stem, the next part is sterilizing the roots to ensure they stay healthy. For this, you can use a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution.

You can either dip the roots in it or spray the mixture all over the roots. If you submerge the roots in the hydrogen peroxide solution, leave them there for at least 15 minutes, and they will slowly but surely clean up.

8. Put the Plant in the Tank

In the next step, you will carefully put the orchid in a tank where you filled the pure water earlier. Do this carefully and slowly to avoid complications, and this is important because dropping it in the container will splash the water on its parts. The water can spill outside too, which can cause different issues, and the water content will decrease; as a result, the orchid may not stand vertically if you put it in a container or vase without care.

When you put an orchid in, note the water level. In addition to this, check whether all the roots are under the liquid or not. If not, then add some more water. Use a dry towel and remove any water droplets falling on the leaves if possible.

9. Let the Orchid Grow

When you put an orchid in water, let it grow and monitor how well it responds to the new environment. You can proceed in two different ways: you can either let them stay underwater and never let them out, or let them  stay in water for five days and give them two days off to get dry.

Both ways are correct, but if you have chosen an orchid that does not like water much, follow the way number two. If you selected a water-loving one, then go for way number one, since Phalaenopsis is the first choice in water culturing,

Now, of course, you would be overwhelmed and ask, is it possible that Phalaenopsis grow in water completely? Yes, it can, because you may easily grow this orchid in water vases or tanks without ever taking it out.

If you notice any discoloration on orchids, or they don’t grow any new growth, it means there is something wrong. Check whether you have placed the tank/vase where the orchid gets sufficient indirect light. Indirect light is important for orchids to stay healthy.

Also, optimal humidity levels are influential for smooth growth too. The humidity should be between 55 and 70 percent, as orchids are tropical plants. Furthermore, adequate fertilization is critical for growth too, but of course, you may also carefully analyze everything and then find out what you are doing wrong.

10. Keep a Check on the Water Level

It is super important the water level stays consistent every day. It does not drop after a day of putting in an orchid. But the roots continue absorbing the liquid, and some evaporate too. After four days, you will notice a considerable difference between the water levels on days one and five.

Keep a Check on the Water Level

When the water level drops, roots will be exposed to dryness, which is undesirable, so be careful about this. As a matter of fact, you can pour water into a cup or bowl to raise it. You can also put some ice cubes in the container or a vase and when they melt, the water level will automatically rise.

11. Fertilize Adequately

Orchids grow best in water when you give them timely nutrient doses. If you want to see new growth, then go for nitrogen-rich fertilizers. If you want to see orchids bloom, choose fertilizers high in phosphorus and potassium.

We suggest you go for fertilizers made for the hydroponic medium, as they are liquid fertilizers and get dissolved into water easily. On another note, the nutrients they release are also readily available to the roots.

You must apply minerals weekly to grow an orchid in water only, if you go for the five-day water, two-day off method, you will still have to take care of fertilizer needs. This means that on those two days, you can place the orchid’s roots in an orchid mix or any other potting medium like soil. If you do, you will have to clean the roots before you put them in the water again.

12. Change the Water Regularly

The problem with the hydroponic medium is that the water gets dirty quickly. We all know plants capture oxygen from the surroundings and release carbon dioxide. This carbon dioxide can downgrade the water quality, impacting the whole orchid. As a result, you will see how you must take care of orchid watering needs in a sufficient way.

It is not necessary for you to drain out all the water in the tank. You can immediately remove 30 percent of the water and add pure on. Do this every week, and the orchids won’t face any problems. We also advise using test strips to check the water quality every week.

13. Make a Habit of Cleaning the Tank or Vase

Cleaning the tank or vase is also crucial for healthy orchids. Indoor plants usually do not face the problem of dust or debris. Still, putting a lid on is better if you think a storm is coming. Also, pets habitually poke plants in a tank/container. Germs can get transferred due to this, and this is why you should try to clean the tank at least once a month.

For cleaning, drain the water first, and then you can use soapy water. You can also try a bleach solution, and to do this, you should add one-fourth of bleach in two gallons of water, thoroughly wash the tank, and then let it dry before adding pure water again.

We know it’s costly, but you should always have two tanks or vases. If you use one that needs cleaning, shift the orchid to the other. Then, when this other one needs cleaning, you can put the orchid back in the first tank/container.

14. Keep Following Orchid Care

Orchid plants need continuous care- whether you are growing them in water or soil. Therefore, you should give it its due importance. Even when they are growing this way, you must ensure orchids receive lots of indirect light every day.

Of course, do not add stones to the tank for aesthetic purposes. They can dissolve in water and add impurities, and also they may bring with them different diseases. If you see roots start to rot, it means the root rot disease has attacked. To get rid of it, remove the infected parts and add fungicides.


Growing an orchid in water is easy if you follow all the steps. Here, we explained every step in detail and discussed what people do wrong that causes failure in growing an orchid hydroponically. It’s now time for you to take a look at the key points of the whole article so that you don’t face any problems when you choose to grow an orchid in water:

  • Choose a water-loving orchid species like Phalaenopsis, Vanda, Dendrobium, etc.
  • Add distilled or rainwater to the tank/vase as it is impurities-free.
  • Make sure the roots stay under the water, because this is how they will grow without any soil.
  • Fertilize every week to fulfill nutrient needs. This will help the plant stay strong and thrive.
  • Change 30 percent water weekly, or the impurities will keep building in the tank, harming the orchids.

Stick to these points, and you will never have any complaints. Growing orchids in water is that easy, and now you know all about how to grow orchids without soil.

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