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Misting Orchids – The Complete Guide for Beginners

If you are a beginner, the controversial information about misting orchids can be overwhelming. There are so many articles about this, but most of them are on one side only. Some say mist them; others say do not mist orchids.

But let’s be critical. Why should we mist the orchids and why not?

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In this article, you can find many pros and cons, also, other useful tips and tricks about this theme.

Misting Orchids – Pros & Cons

Orchids prefer a hot and humid environment. However, their roots are rotting if they stay in the water or a too wet potting mix.

– Pros

One of the pros is that misting the orchids can reproduce the same environment as in the rainforest because these plants’ natural habitat is on trees in rainforests.

Misting increases the humidity around the orchid, and this is what it loves. Orchids are feeding from the air as well with their aerial roots, not only from the bark or sphagnum moss.

Another pro is that you can fertilize your orchid through misting (foliar fertilizer).  Orchids can take nutrition from the air through their leaves and air roots.

The third pro I could say is that you can water your orchid by misting it. Orchids are absorbing water from the air as well. So, misting these plants can provide enough water for your orchid.

– Cons

If there are pros, then it means there are many cons as well in terms of misting. One of these is that misting can cause water burns on the leaves and flowers. As the sun heats the water drops on the leaves, which burns the leaves and these will leave a black mark on them.

Another con is that misting your orchids can cause crown rot. This is when the water gets to the base of the leaves, into the orchid’s stem and rots it from the inside. When crown rot occurs, the leaves, the flower spikes and the roots will fall off the stem.

Crown rot is very serious because is almost impossible to save that orchid unless it produces keiki.

The third con I can put on this list is that the water can leave watermarks on the leaves, which is not esthetical, so, after each misting, you should get it off of your orchid. If you are misting your orchids daily, this procedure can be quite annoying and time-consuming.

The risk of fungal spots is another con. If the environment is cool, the water drops will not evaporate quickly enough, so this might cause fungal disease on the leaves.

Orchid Humidity Requirements

Orchids are plants that love high humidity levels. As I mentioned earlier, their natural habitat is in rainforests, where the air is very humid and hot.

Therefore, if your orchids’ environment is very humid, but not hot, that could be a problem. Because too much humidity can cause fungal or bacterial disease, or it can even kill your orchids.

If the humidity is not enough for an orchid, this can get dehydrated, and its leaves will get wrinkly.

The best level of humidity for an orchid is between 40% and 70%. Misting can help in keeping orchids in a moist and humid environment; however, you must pay attention to the airflow as well.

If the humidity is high, but the airflow is not appropriate, then your orchids will die, because they will start rotting.

However, misting is not the only way of keeping the humidity on the right level for the orchids. My opinion is that there are better ways than this.

Best Way to Water Orchids

For an orchid, humidity is key, because this factor keeps it alive, or will kill it. So, watering can keep the humidity and moisture at the right level.

Depending on the type of your orchid plant, you can choose from a few ways of watering it.

You can water the orchid from the top, like rain. Do this for like 8-10 minutes, then leave the excess water to drain, because you don’t want your plant’s roots to sit in water.

While the water is draining, you can clean the leaves with a paper towel or a cotton pad, so the drops will not leave any marks, also, it will help to dry the place where the leaves meet the stems.

Another way to water your orchid plants is to dip the plant with the pot in water and leave it for 10 minutes. The potting mix will absorb the needed water and the roots will get moisturized. Then you can take the pot out of the water and leave it to drain.

My third tip will not be really a watering tip, but it keeps the plants’ environment humid and moist. You just have to place some rocks in a tray, then pour water into that tray. Then place the orchids’ pots on the rocks.

The water evaporates from between the rocks and keeps the potting environment humid. This helps the orchid to get enough water through the roots, and these will not sit in water.

Best Water for Orchids

If you want to mist your orchids or water them from the top, or even from the bottom, it is very important to consider what type of water are you using.

Rainwater is the best water type for orchids, but sometimes it is difficult to collect. Or if you live in a polluted area, rainwater might do more harm than good to your plants.

Rainwater collects all the nutrients like pollen and other organic matters; therefore, this is the richest water for the plants. But if air pollution is high, then the harmful chemicals will be collected by the rainwater and this won’t be suitable for your orchids anymore.

Tap water is the safest to use because it is already cleaned, however, you should leave it in a container or bucket overnight to leave the chemicals from the water to evaporate.

Leaving the water to sit overnight controls the temperature of the water as well. The best is to water your orchids with room temperature water.

Distilled water is also very good for your plants; however, this can be pricy to purchase if you have many orchids. Some people invest in reverse osmosis units, so, they can produce as much purified water as they want.

Springwater could be good for the orchids, but you should test it first because sometimes it can be alkaline. That means, calcium and magnesium will be lacking in the water, also, the salt levels can be high.

Wrap up

Misting your orchid is not an essential routine if you keep them in your house, but can be helpful if the humidity is too low.

So, if you decide to mist, you must make sure that all the required factors are appropriate. If the environment is humid but cold and the airflow is weak, then your plants will die.

Before starting to mist your orchids, please consider all the risks and then decide if you want to do it or not. Also, after misting, do the right thing by drying out the stems or cleaning the water drops off the leaves. This will help you to prevent crown rot and water burn. Good luck!

Posted in Orchids - Updated: March 1, 2021

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