If you keep your orchids outdoors during the summer to take advantage of the rainy season and warm weather, be careful that your plants aren’t receiving too much of a good thing. Orchids are natural epiphytes that derive water and nutrients from tree canopies. Their native settings allow plants to soak up just the right amount of rain, shed unnecessary water and allow roots to dry out between rain showers.
Despite our attempts to mimic an orchid’s natural setting, an outdoor potted orchid needs extra care and attention to avoid receiving too much water.
All orchids are not the same. Some varieties prefer to dry out completely between waterings such as vandas and phalenopsis (moth orchids). Other orchids such as paphiopedliums (lady slippers), miltonias (pansy orchids) and cymbidiums like to stay evenly moist but not soggy. Orchids that like something in the middle - evenly moist during high growth periods but dry outs between waterings - include cattleyas, dendrobiums and oncidiums.
What Is the Harm in Too Much Water?
There is such as thing as “too much of a good thing” as it relates to rainwater and your outdoor orchids. Without proper drainage, too much water can literally kill your plant. Overwatering can deprive your orchid roots of oxygen. In a short period of time, your healthy green or brown roots will turn black and begin to rot. This wet environment is ideal environment for bacteria or fungus. If you aren’t careful, the damage caused to your roots will eventually show in the leaves of your plants. By then, unfortunately, it may be too late to save the plant. So take the time this summer to routinely check your outdoor orchids to be sure they aren’t getting too much of a good thing with these summer rains.