Skip to main content

How to grow orchids in water for an exotic and beautiful display

Growing orchids in water is easy: What you need to know

Orchids and hydroponics are both words that sound… intimidating. Orchids have a reputation for being fussy and difficult to grow, while hydroponics sounds complicated and technical. The secret is that neither is actually too difficult, and when you combine orchids with hydroponics, wonderful things can happen. Some gardeners even have an easier time growing orchids in water than in soil! Here's everything you need to know to see for yourself.

Related Videos




45 minutes

What You Need

  • Container

  • Distilled water

  • Orchid with healthy roots

An orchid potted indoors

Can you grow orchids in water?

Orchids do quite well in water, as long as they’re given the proper care. It may even be easier to grow orchids in water for some, as you don’t have to worry about soil maintenance and watering. Here's what to do to set your orchid up for success.

Step 1: Choose the right container.

You want a large enough bowl or vase to hold all your orchid's roots and give them a little extra room to spread and grow. Your vase also needs to be tall enough to support the stem of your orchid, so that it doesn’t topple out.

Step 2: Make sure your orchid’s roots are clean and healthy before you put it into the bowl.

If you’re moving your orchid from soil to water, remove all the soil from the roots. Check your orchid’s roots for damage, rot, or disease, and cut away any unhealthy parts of the root. If your orchid is root bound or has tangled roots, gently pull them apart so they can spread out in the water.

Step 3: Use room temperature distilled water.

Tap water may be fine to use, but it depends on the hardness of your water. Some cities use chemicals to treat the water, which is fine for us but not very good for plants. Distilled water is best, and rainwater can also be used, provided you don’t live somewhere with acid rain.

Step 4: Add enough water to cover the orchid's roots, but avoid getting the leaves wet.

Wet leaves rot, which can weaken the plant, cause the water to become grimy, and generally looks unattractive. Keep the water level below the lowest leaves, add water slowly, and avoid pouring water over the leaves when you add water to the bowl.

Step 5: Decorate your container!

As long as the decorations are water-safe and properly sealed, you can decorate your bowl however you please. Fish-tank decorations are generally safe, as are fish-tank rocks. Don’t add rocks from your garden, as some rocks slowly dissolve in water, adding minerals to your water that may harm your plant. Be aware that you may need to clean any decorations you add, to avoid algae buildup.

Woman holding orchid roots

How long do you keep orchids in water?

There are two methods for growing orchids in water. One method is to leave your orchids in the water and change the water out every week or two. The second method is to leave the orchid in the water for two days and then let it dry out for five.

There’s no evidence to suggest that one method is significantly better than the other, so it really comes down to which one works with your schedule. Try both methods and see which one you like more!

Watering indoor orchid in clear container

Can orchids grow without soil?

Orchids can and do grow without soil. They need a small amount of soil to germinate in, but as they mature they need less and less soil. In their native habitat, orchids are air plants. This means they root in very little soil, often on tree limbs, and get most of what they need from the air. This is why orchids love humidity so much — it’s how they naturally want to absorb water!

Not all orchids love air the same amount, though. Varieties that are far removed from their wild ancestors and have been cultivated to grow in soil may have a more difficult time adjusting to a soilless existence. Don’t give up, though! Any orchid can be grown in water with just a little patience.

You’re ready to wow your friends and family with an impressive-looking but easy to maintain setup! Keep an eye out for root rot, make sure your water is fresh, and add a touch of decorative flair. It’ll spice up your house and keep your plant happy!

Editors' Recommendations

Grow your indoor or outdoor garden and support these Black-owned plant shops for Black History Month
Get your next leafy friend from one of these Black-owned companies
Various plants on different stands

If you're a plant parent, you buy your supplies and new baby plants from somewhere. So, instead of the chain stores, consider supporting Black-owned plant shops to get your leafy friends everything they need to thrive. Check out any of these Black-owned companies to find your next plant addition no matter where you are, because every one of these businesses ships all over the U.S.

Mignon Hemsley and Danuelle Doswell started this beautiful plant company in 2020 to help create a calmer space in homes through the addition of greenery. If you have no idea where to start, Grounded offers complimentary 15-minute consultations to get you going. It has a subscription option for the more adventurous plant parent, and if you have fur babies at home, look at their pet-safe options so you won't have to worry about a curious nose.
Crazy Plant Bae
From plants to planters to a subscription box, Crazy Plant Bae has a little of everything. No matter how green your thumb is, you'll find something to fit your budget and space. Get the kids involved in gardening and sign them up for one of the workshops, or have them visit your child in their classroom. But the best part about this company is that it's a Black women-run business with its third generation of family members, and it has over 40 years of service at your disposal.
deVINE Plantery
If you want easy-to-care-for plants without a lot of fuss, or more unique plants, check out deVINE Plantery. This Black woman-owned company has adorable plants, fun accessories, stunning art pieces, and a few other gift ideas. Need help styling the plants in your home, want a consultation about what plants to get, or want to take a gardening class? This business offers all of that and more.
De La Fleur Designs
If you want only flowers for your space with a lot of color and beauty, then De La Fleur Designs is where you should look. It doesn't just put together any ordinary bouquet. Owner Daphne oozes the sophistication and elegance you'll see in whichever arrangement you choose. Whether you need a sympathy arrangement, wedding flowers, or want to sign yourself up for a monthly bouquet delivery subscription, De La Fleur will take care of it all.
The Plant Project
The first Black woman-owned plant company in Texas, The Plant Project opened its doors in 2020 to bring the joy of all things leafy to the area. Plants with a pop of color, herbs, plant accessories, and even a plant self-care set are all on the menu. Or visit one of its four locations to get the full in-person experience of a plant shop and see how amazingly beautiful the inside of its stores are.

Read more
Could electrogardening be the way of the future?
What you need to know about the electrogardening method
A person holding a seedling

Every year, new scientific advances are being made to help improve our lives, but unless you’re actively seeking out these studies, it can be hard to keep track of them. One new development you may have missed is electrogardening. Studies into how we can use electricity in gardening have been ongoing for years -- with shocking results! In this guide, we’ll break down what this new science is, how it works, and what it could mean for you and your garden.

What is electrogardening?
The electrogardening gardening method, sometimes also called electroculture, uses electricity to promote healthy plant growth. This can be done by electrifying the plant, water, or soil directly, but it can also involve creating an electromagnetic field around the plant.

Read more
Want to make your pothos plant’s vines thicker? Follow this guide
Here's how to help your pothos have a fuller appearance
A pothos as a wall vine

Maybe you're a new plant parent, and like so many beginners, you brought home a simple golden pothos to start your indoor plant collection. Maybe you're just fascinated by this fast-growing plant's low-key nature and seemingly endless varieties.

Whatever the case, you may have noticed that your once full and bushy pothos has gotten leggy and now looks like the rest of us when we go too long without a haircut. Rest assured that this isn't just you; this problem affects pothos and many other vining plants, but there are plenty of things you can do to help your leafy buddy.

Read more