Can you grow orchids in water? How to get exotic hydroponic blooms

While it may be a trickier technique to master, it is possible to grow water culture orchids

Orchids in water
(Image credit: Jacky Parker Photography via Getty Images)

If you're a lover of orchids but struggle to know how to water them, learning how to grow orchids hydroponically could be the solution to healthier exotic blooms.

Every indoor plant lover knows that taking care of orchids indoors can be a tricky business, and getting their moisture levels wrong when exploring how to water orchids can cause your beautiful, blooming plants to wilt. However, growing hydroponic orchids means you don't have to worry about watering mistakes – plus, this growing technique can create an attractive orchid display.

Here, we've outlined how to grow orchids in water with insight from experts so that you can have healthy hydroponic blooms.

Can you grow orchids in water?

Orchids in water

(Image credit: Dina Morozova via Getty Images)

There are lots of types of orchids that you can grow indoors, and when it comes to keeping your orchid blooming, or bringing an orchid back to life, you need to understand their natural habitat.

Orchids are epiphytic in the native environment where they grow on the surface of other plants, like trees, rather than in soil. As a result they have aerial roots which provide them with the moisture and nutrients they need.

'Aerial roots are called just that because they are designed to take up moisture from the air as orchids tend to anchor themselves onto tree branches out in the wild,' says Brenda Hwang, florist at Orchid Republic Floral Boutique. 'If orchid roots sit in moisture for too long they do tend to rot so air circulation and proper drainage is key,' she adds.

Growing water culture orchids involves soaking the roots and then letting them dry out before soaking again to avoid houseplant root rot. This hydroponic method means that the orchids are gaining as much moisture as they need before drying out so they don't become oversaturated. 

Brenda Hwang
Brenda Hwang

Brenda is a seasoned florist at Orchid Republic Floral Boutique in California. She advises on flower care with a special focus on orchids.

How to grow orchids hydroponically

Orchids in water vase

(Image credit: josephmok via Getty Images)

The best way to achieve this growing method is by carefully removing your orchid from its original pot and taking away any potting mix or bark that is tangled up in its roots. Make sure to also clean the roots well and prune away orchid roots that may be damaged or dead.

You can then place your orchid in a container of water, submerging the roots and leaving it to soak. Using a hydroponic kit or alternative indoor growing system with glass vessels works excellently for this, so that you can observe the color and health of the roots.

Leave your orchid to soak for a couple of days before taking it out to dry. 'During winter, orchids may go dormant and do not take up as much water,' notes Brenda. When your orchid is not in an active growth phase, its best to reduce how often you soak the roots to prevent oversaturation and root rot.

You can grow your orchids successfully in water by simply observing the roots to know when they need soaking. If the roots look green, its a sign they are at a happy moisture level. When the roots look silver, it's a good time to soak them.

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Can you propagate orchids in water?

It is possible to propagate orchids in water if your established orchid has grown baby plants, or pups. These offshoots can be cut off the parent plant, ensuring it has a sufficient root system of its own. You can then use a hydroponic method of soaking the orchid to encourage growth and blooms. Make sure to allow the roots to dry out between soaking to ensure the plant doesn't suffer houseplant root rot.

Growing orchids hydroponically can sound daunting at first but its an excellent technique to learn if you want to better manage the water levels of your orchid. Take care to allow the orchid roots to dry out so that they don't become oversaturated, otherwise your water culture orchids may fail. 

If you're looking for more ways to beautifully style your houseplants, why not try making an orchid terrarium?

Tenielle Jordison
News Writer (Gardens)

Tenielle is a News Writer in the Gardens team at Homes & Gardens with five years of journalistic experience. She studied BA Journalism, Media and English Literature and MA Magazine Journalism at Cardiff University. Before coming to Homes & Gardens, Tenielle was in the editorial department at the Royal Horticultural Society and worked on The Garden magazine. She is passionate about sustainable living and likes to encourage gardeners to make greener choices to help tackle the effects of climate change with a trowel in hand. Tenielle is also a houseplant lover who is slowly running out of room for her ever-growing collection.