Do orchids need soil is a common question that crosses every orchid owner’s mind. Gardeners have been experimenting with mediums other than soil to see how well they adapt to them. But let’s pay attention to why orchids need soil and what kind of soil orchids need.Do Orchids Need Soil

Ensure you continue reading our article, which will answer all your queries about whether orchids need soil.

Do Orchids Need Soil When Growing?

Yes, orchids need soil when they are growing, but they can also thrive with just a bit of soil as well, and the more they develop, the less soil they will require. Although soil can help them grow, they can also grow with a small amount.

Orchids perform well in water too, and this is because it provides the plant with a situation that allows just enough moisture during the soaking and lets the aerial roots dry to prevent pathogens. But how to grow orchids without soil?

Place your orchid in a container with water; one method is to leave it in water and change it every week or two, but in this case, the second method is to leave the orchid in water for two days and let it dry for five days.

They need special plant care and attention if you plan on growing them in water as long as you are growing them in clean water, and it is best to use distilled or rainwater as tap water contains chlorine which can harm your orchids.

You can also add nutrients, such as a slow-release orchid fertilizer. Also, orchids growing in water prefer bright yet indirect sunlight, so please place it near a window accordingly; you can also use a grow light to supplement sunlight.

– The Right Time To Change The Soil

Orchids need fresh soil every year or so, depending on how fast it decomposes, and if you have placed it in soil, you must also know the right time to change it. The timely replacement helps with airflow and access to beneficial nutrients, and it wouldn’t get compact, so the roots will develop well.

Remember, if you do not add fresh soil to your orchids, they can retain more water, leading to root rot and making them more vulnerable to fungal and bacterial diseases.

For instance, when growing orchids in moss, you must add new soil every two to five years, depending on the irrigation water quality and how much you water and fertilize them. It would be best to repot orchids when adding fresh soil.

Repotting orchids with ‘normal roots’ is just like how you would repot your regular houseplants, but what to do and how to repot an orchid with air roots?

To repot an orchid with air roots, you must soak it in water after removing it from its pot; it helps to remove the old soil easily. Next, sift through the orchid’s roots and trim the damaged or diseased ones.

Fill a new pot with fresh soil, or the same pot but clean, and add your orchid. Resume with your guide on orchid growing for beginners to help your orchid adjust to the new soil. Repot them how you repot other plants, but make sure that you use a sterilized potting mix or medium.

– During Dormancy

During dormancy, they must be placed in soil, because this is the time when the orchids rest after flowering and lasts six to nine months in fall and winter. The orchids use this period to regain their lost energy in flowering, so the soil serves the purpose of a nutrient supplier.

You can use this period to repot your orchids without worrying about how to grow orchids at home; it is so effortless that you won’t even have to search for ‘how do you repot an orchid for beginners’ even when thy are in their dormant stance.

Why Do Orchids Need Soil?

Orchids need soil for many reasons, but primarily to encourage air circulation so the roots can have access to air and breathe and to provide the best nutrients to the roots, especially the in-ground roots, known as the ‘normal roots.’Why Do Orchids Need Soil

– To Encourage Air Circulation

Orchids thrive in porous soil as it promotes air circulation, as allows the exchange of gases so that the roots can remain healthy. The bark soil, for instance, keeps enabling the roots to breathe, which regular garden soil cannot do. In short, they need this circulation in order to live in perfect health.

– To Provide the Best Nutrients to the Roots

Most soils are capable of fulfilling the nutrient needs of the orchids. They are a significant source of nutrients needed for an orchid plant’s growth. These nutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. For this, you must remember that the nutrient uptake is through the roots, so there is no better option than naturally nutrient-dense soil.

– Helps in Development

Orchids can and do grow well without soil, as they only need little soil to begin germination, but they require less and less soil as they grow. In their native habitat, they are aerial plants, meaning they root in significantly less soil, often on tree trunks, and get most of their water and nutrient needs fulfilled from the air.

What Is the Proper Way to Choose The Orchid Soil?

The proper way to choose the orchid soil is to know the type of orchid you have, add in the right material and add the rocks that will enhance the moisture of the soil. Additionally, you must aim to avoid using regular potting mix.

– Know the Type of Orchid Growing

You must know the type of orchid you are growing because in a case where you have epiphytes orchids, you should know that they need light, fast-draining, and highly aerated soil.

They are not entirely dependent on the soil to grow; they rely on a growing medium that can supply them with moisture and a surface to attach their roots. But in pots, they like being mounted on bark and partially covered with sphagnum moss.Types of Orchid Growing

Orchid growers recommend chopped bark, or tree fern, fiber-based. The coarseness of the soil depends on the orchid species. When it comes to For Phalaenopsis orchids, medium-sized chopped fir bark, perlite, and sphagnum moss make excellent drainage and water retention soil, because this is how these orchids will grow in the righty soil.

Other commonly used barks include Monterey and coastal redwood. Remember, the coarser the bark, the less compact the soil will be, increasing drainage speed, but be careful if your orchid pots already have drainage holes. You may need a smaller-grained bark to drain the water slower if it is the demand of your orchid species, and aim to give them such a manner to develop the right way.

On the other hand, terrestrial orchids can handle more water retention than epiphytes but still need well-draining soil to thrive. They cannot tolerate soggy roots and are prone to develop root rot when you leave them in standing water.

Soil that works well for terrestrial orchids includes loamy soil, peat moss, and fine-grained bark. Some orchid owners prefer adding one-eighth of compost or manure to their terrestrial soil. Long story short, use loamy soil instead of clay-based soil.

– Mix in the Right Material

Orchids need breathable soil and are primarily grown in a combination of perlite, vermiculture, sphagnum moss, and shredded bark, all of which are porous. Based on the orchid varieties, you can add more ingredients to the soil to keep your orchids happy and thriving.

The most commonly used soil is fir bark. It is well-draining, allows airflow around the roots, and retains water. Also, pine bark decays slowly, relieving you of the worry of replacing it quickly, if you decide to add them.

Now that you know which soil orchids need, the next question to come across your mind must be how to plant orchids in soil. Trim your dead orchid roots that are soggy or colored brown or black so that they would have proper space to grow out new roots.

Carefully place the orchid in a pot and add the potting medium, tapping the pot gently onto the table, so the soil reaches every corner evenly. When you feel the orchid is in place, add a layer of orchid potting mix over the roots and water well.

– Adding Rocks to Enhance the Moisture

You can add mediums like lava rock to your orchid’s soil, and this will also help because it is fast-draining and never rots or decomposes. The rocks are heavy and, therefore, hold less water.

While selecting lava rocks, please remember that the larger the size, the more spacious will be the air pockets, leading to less moisture retention. They also have a cooling effect, which is helpful if you live in a hot climatic region.Adding Rocks to Orchid Potting

Coconut-husk chunks act as a water-retentive medium, so it’s excellent for orchid species that need extra moisture in dry growing environments. Soak and rinse them to remove all the dirt before use.

You may consider using coconut-husk fiber because it is what provides water retention but does not drain as well as the chunks, so it would be better to mix something in the pot’s bottom when using only coconut-husk fiber.

Charcoal is an organic growing medium you can add to your orchid’s growing medium. It best suits orchids that prefer very humid growing conditions. You can find it in many sizes, small to big. It is beneficial for maintaining the soil’s pH level, filtering impurities, and eliminating odors. You can create your potting mix by combining all three, and it will be a great choice.

– Avoid Regular Potting Mixes

You must know that as you grow this plant, you should stay away from regular potting mix because orchids need soil that best mimics their natural habitat, and this type of mix is away from their growing medium. They cannot survive in regular potting soil as it is compact and has no room for air movements.

The roots need constant access to air to grow, so you must try regularly posting the soil that is too dense to support the delicate root system of orchids. Since most orchid species are epiphytes, their roots need plenty of air to survive.

– Providing Detailed Care

You can plant your orchids outside in the garden if they meet their light requirements. But how to grow orchids outdoors without compromising their well-being? You must select a suitable spot with optimum light so your orchids bloom beautifully.

Covered patios make an ideal space for orchids that prefer partial sunlight. Resume your orchid care, water more if the weather is scorching, and you will see orchid flowers blooming in no time.Detailed Care for Orchids


You now have answers to your long-awaiting queries. Through our article, you have understood if orchids need soil to grow and what the alternatives are, so let’s sum up the key points:

  • Orchids need soil to have easy access to air, as it is essential for the roots to survive and grow.
  • Orchids can do well with a small amount of soil, just enough to start germination.
  • The ingredients in potting media depend on the orchid species and how fast-draining you want it to be; the coarser the bark, the more draining it will be.
  • You can grow your orchids in water if you prefer; the soil is not necessary for growing orchids.
  • Add fresh and new orchid mix, or soil, to your orchids every year as they decompose.

Orchids need soil and remain happy if it meets their permeable needs; whether or not orchids need soil solely depends on your orchid’s species.

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