Orchid roots in water is what requires proper attention and care, but you can still grow them and keep the plant healthy. Beginners or inexperienced gardeners often hesitate to use water as a growing medium because they think it will hurt orchids.Orchid Roots in Water

If you also have the same thoughts, stay till the end as we have discussed how to grow an orchid plant in water and what problems you may face in detail here. So, continue reading!

Can You Grow Orchid Roots in Water?

Yes, you can grow the orchid plant’s roots in water if you nurture them properly. The crucial nurturing points are changing water weekly, adding a mineral dose timely, and maintaining light conditions. You can either place them in pure water culture or a partial or semi-water culture.

Orchids do not mind water medium because their roots do not grow in the soil in the wild. They are suspended in the air to absorb moisture from the air and during the rainfall. Still, it is a good option not to choose orchids that prefer to stay dry, like cymbidiums. They can face complications in soil-less medium because their roots like to dry out each time that you water them.

– Pure Water Culture

In pure culture, you put orchids in water and never take them out. The roots stay under liquid every day. In this case, submerging around one-fourth root in this medium is best. It is because completely immersing them can lead to root rot.

– Partial or Semi-Water Culture

In partial or semi-culture, half roots stay submerged in water for two days and then get a five-day break to dry. After two days, drain the water and let the orchid remain in the container or tank.

You can also remove the plant and put it in a potting mix. During the five days, don’t water orchids and let the roots dry out. However, this method requires lots of maintenance, so we don’t recommend it. In such a matter, if you are wondering, can orchids grow without soil,  you now know it’s possible and straightforward.

How Can You Grow Roots in Water? Water Culture Orchids For Beginners

To grow the roots of an orchid in water, you should select a suitable orchid and tank first. Then, unpot the orchid, place it in the tank, and gradually add water. Only one-fourth roots should stay submerged. After this, take proper care of the roots to speed up their growth.

– Choose Water-Loving Orchid Species

The success of water growing depends on the orchid you choose. As mentioned above, those orchids that prefer dryness cannot grow well in a water medium. You should select those that like water.Water Loving Orchid Species

For this, you must choose the right type that you can manage to grow with. You opt to use the three most popular and applicable kinds, in this case, phalaenopsis, Dendrobium orchids, or Oncidium. You should also think about, can you root an orchid stem in water; know that you can also plant stem cuttings in water if you want to avoid placing the orchid plant.

– Select a Right Vase or Container

Getting the right vase or tank is also critical for success. You should consider the root volume before making a decision. If the orchid has extended roots, then get a big container. If the roots still need to be developed, you can go for small ones.

You should not use tall or long vases as they can increase the humidity levels and reduce aeration. In such a case, you can opt to grow orchids in a tank. It should have holes on the top sides for maximum airflow.

Moreover, we now have tanks or glass containers specifically made for orchids; also, try to consider how you can get those that are manufactured for hydroponic mediums.

– Prepare the Hydroponic Tank

You should clean the tank with soapy water before you use it. After this, rinse the tank with clean water and dry it with a clean towel; consider that if you have decided to follow pure water culture, adding a layer of pebbles is a good option, and this is because it will ensure water does not completely submerge the roots.

– Remove the Orchid and Clean Its Roots

You can now take the orchid out of its pot gently and inspect it carefully. Pinch out dead leaves and buds from the flower spike. Then, dust off the potting mix from the roots; now, in such a manner, if you observe sick or dead roots, remove them using pruning shears.Removing Orchid from Pot

If you are growing Phalaenopsis orchids in water, you should examine aerial roots too. Look for brown and black ones. These unhealthy roots are of no use for orchids. After observing roots, clean them further by spraying or soaking them in water; following this what you can do is try to check again and remove any sick roots you see.

Now, you can try to make a three percent hydrogen peroxide solution and carefully mist or spray them on the roots to disinfect them. The chances of disease or other complications will decrease when you do this.

– Place the Orchid in Tank Carefully

In the next step, gently place the orchid in the tank. It should be in the center. Furthermore, ensure its leaves are not touching the insides of the glass or plastic of the tank. Also, use a pencil or chopstick to spread the roots.

– Fill Pure and Room Temperature Water

You can slowly add water to the tank after placing the orchid. It is better to check its quality using testing strips. The reason is that pouring impure tap water can hurt the roots. As a result, the orchid won’t thrive in the water.Room Temperature Water for Orchids

Furthermore, we recommend pouring the water into a watering can or bucket and letting it stay there for a few hours. It will change the water temperature to room temperature; you should add water to the tank slowly. It is because you want only one-fourth of roots to stay underwater. Pouring more water will increase your workload, as you must drain extra liquid.

You may now try to ask yourself, can you water culture orchids no roots, know that you can try to grow a rootless orchid in water. In this, you wrap the stem in sphagnum moss and then put it in water for two days a week. However, the chances of successful growth are much less than those of orchids with roots.

– Decorate the Container To Have Some Fun

Growing orchids in water becomes fun when you decorate the tank/container. It enhances the beauty of indoors and gives a sense of pleasure. You can put any fish tank decorations. Moreover, use stickers to make the whole setup look funky.Decorating Orchid Container

Inexperienced gardeners need to avoid placing rocks in the tank. They can dissolve in water with time and add minerals, leading to nutrient toxicity and pH change. Furthermore, rocks can also release dirt and make the water dirty.

– Continue Giving the Right Care Needs

Your focus should now divert to providing the best conditions for the orchids. The problem with the water medium is that the liquid keeps evaporating. Now, try to monitor the water levels regularly and pour some when the roots get exposed.

Furthermore, provide light using LED bulbs for at least six hours. Start a stopwatch when you turn on the lights to know how much light the plants get. Also, feed nutrients every week. You should get those fertilizers that are manufactured for hydroponics or in the water medium.

Also, keep a check on algae growth, because note that it is common in water culture. The algae can cover the roots, preventing them from functioning properly. It is green and slimy in texture and starts accumulating when you don’t change the water and keep the lights on for over 12 hours.

In such a case, you may opt to change one-third of the water every week. You should also have a spare tank. Repeat the above steps and shift the orchid in it. Then, drain water from the previous tank and wash it thoroughly, note that the orchids will thrive after you do these care measures.

So, if you were thinking,” Growing orchids in water is it madness,” you now know it is one of the most fun activities an orchid gardener can do. However, water growing has some problems, which you should know.

What Are the Problems in Growing Roots in Water?

The main problem roots encounter in water is fungal attacks, which damage the root tissues and stop them from functioning. In addition, roots can also face oxygen stress if you are not careful with tank selection and water levels. Furthermore, the extra work of hydroponics might also trouble you.

– Fungal Disease Attack

The biggest problem with water medium is that the chances of fungal infections are always high. Fungi love moisture, so they feel tempted to attack watered roots. The disease can get severe if the humidity increases, because note that they are placed in a water medium.

– Oxygen Stress

Newbies need to choose the right tank. It should have holes to provide maximum airflow. Furthermore, the oxygen supply will get restricted if you keep entire roots underwater. Such orchids can die as well, so you must be detailed because a bit

– Stunted Growth

Water culture is not for procrastinators and busy people. You will be required to check the water levels daily, change one-third of the liquid weekly, give fertilizer doses on time, and do much more work in this culture.

Failing to take any care measures will damage the orchid and stunt its growth. In short, whether you should grow an orchid in water or soil depends on you. If you can manage water care measures without delay, go for hydroponics.


All in all, you can easily grow the roots of most orchid plants in water so here, we explained easy steps for you in complete detail. Take a look at the summary to revise the information:

  • Always choose water-loving orchids to grow in a water medium.
  • Take a tank that is specifically designed for water or hydroponic medium.
  • Clean the roots and remove sick ones before putting the orchid in the tank.
  • Maintain the water levels so that you wouldn’t place it in any oxygen stress.
  • Do basic hydroponic care to ensure roots stay stress-free.

It’s that simple to grow orchid plants’ roots in the water, and as you know the problems, you will now have the right tactic to avoid such a hazard, giving your orchid a great place to live.

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