Overwatered orchids are a major concern and this condition may lead to the death of this tropical plant. When the orchid is overwatered, you will notice changes such as leaves starting to droop, wilt, and become discolored.

Overwatered Orchid Plant

Overwatering is one common mistake encountered in orchid parenting, and it can go undetected if you don’t pay attention to the orchid plant’s overall health. 

Keep on reading this article to learn strategies for preventing overwatering your orchid and revamping it if the problems occur.

Why Is Your Orchid Overwatered?

Your orchid is overwatered because you may be frequently watering it, or because you’re using the wrong potting mix and roots are not drying properly. You may be exposing it to high humidity conditions, placing it in a pot with no holes, or using a hosing method to control pests. 

– Watering too Frequently

Watering once every week is one of the major care recommendations for orchids. Overwatering is likely to occur when you water the plant when it does not require watering yet. Orchids are mostly overwatered because of misguided information. Since the orchids are native to rainforests, many orchid growers assume that the plant needs too much water to survive.

Keep in mind that orchids have varying water intake as seasons change. To elaborate further, in winter time you have to water it after two weeks or more as the plant is not active, it is almost dormant.

You, therefore, need to know the recommended frequency for watering your orchid, because this is the time when you would water it regularly as you would in summer or spring, and it will be harmed through overwatering.

You would easily spot this from the orchid leaves, because they are the best way in which the plant could express either the orchid overwatered or underwatered before any other part of the plant.

– Using the Wrong Potting Mix

Orchids require a potting mix that enables the roots to dry out between watering. Overwatering will possibly occur when you use the wrong potting mix, such as regular soil which holds too much water than needed.

Causes of Overwatered Orchid Plant

You would spot that the water that you are pouring is getting drained, so you would go ahead and pour some more, and this would harm the plant and cause it to be overwatered.

– Exposure to High Humidity Conditions

When your orchid is located in a spot where there are high humidity levels and low air circulation, overwatering is likely to occur. High humidity reduces the evaporation process because the air is already filled with water. Under these circumstances, the mix is unlikely to dry out between watering sessions and it wouldn’t be a healthy environment to the plant.

– Hosing Method

Sometimes, when orchids have been affected by pests, the first option that must come to mind is using the “hosing method.” With this method, you remove the pests, but the plant will also be receiving water. This alone may cause overwatering, especially if you carry out pest control more often.

The case is even worse when you resume your watering as usual after hosing your plant. Overwatering is more likely to happen.

– Using a Pot With few or no Drainage Holes

Orchids flourish well when grown in a pot that is porous and enables fast draining. Having a pot with few holes or rather no drainage holes result in your plant being overwatered because the water has no way to escape.

The water would soak up at the bottom of the pot and the plant would sit in it and become weak at the roots, due to the overwatering period.


How To Save Overwatered Orchids?

To save your Orchid once you have noticed the signs you should repot your orchid, trim the roots, change the growing medium, control the watering needs, ensure the pot has draining holes, mist in the first phase, adopt a schedule, prune the dead leaves, and expose it to proper humidity.

– Repot Your Orchid

Repotting your orchid is effective for reviving the plant if the orchid’s root is moderately affected by root rot. A rule of thumb regarding how to repot an orchid is never to do this process when the plant is flowering as the blooms could be damaged, rather enjoy the flowers first. 

Gently tip the orchid on its side and slide the roots out of the pot and dispose of any loose potting media and brush away any left-out media that’s clinging to the roots. Examine the roots, looking for damaged and rooting that you should remove using sterilized pruning shears.

Thereafter, drain away any stagnant water in the drainage tray and remove any debris clogging the drainage holes remember to wash the container and tray thoroughly using soapy water then rinse with tap water.

Pour orchid substrate that is enough to fill the orchid pot and water to allow any excess water to drain out so that the media is not soggy testing also the drainage holes’ efficiency. 

After this, place the plant’s roots inside the pot not forgetting to gently spread them in an outward direction. Furthermore, cover the roots with the potting mix and add the mix all over the roots as this helps to anchor the plant.

Solutions of Overwatered Orchid Plant

Place the orchid back in its normal place preferably in a shaded spot to reduce evapotranspiration. After a week or so, you should notice the plant is starting to recover, therefore, once the orchid is back to its vibrant norm you should stick to the recommended watering guidelines. 

Keep in mind, once you have repotted your orchid keep an eye on the drainage, and provide ample direct sunlight, and good air circulation. Hence, once these requirements are met, you’re guaranteed to have saved your overwatered orchid and enjoy the beautiful orchid once more!

– Check Roots and Trim off Roots

You may then consider uprooting your orchid and allowing its roots to dry out for a few days. After the drying process, carefully remove the orchid from the pot to check for any signs of decaying roots.

The rotten roots are easily identified by their brown color and their spongy texture. Trim off most of the damaged roots that are rotten and dead since they cannot be salvaged.

Use scissors or a pair of shears that have been sterilized with isopropanol alcohol. Using sterilized shears prevents diseases and bacteria from spreading throughout the root system that you’re trying to save.

Make sure that you hold the base of the orchid when trimming the roots to avoid mistakenly damaging the leaves and healthy roots. You could easily identify healthy roots after watering as they display a bright green color.

The right length for removing the dead roots is at least a quarter inch. After you have successfully trimmed the affected roots, apply a rooting hormone, preferably the ones in liquid form such as Dip ‘n Grow to the remaining roots.

The rooting hormone assists the plant in forming new roots while also boosting foliage growth. You should let the rooting hormone dry for about an hour before repotting.

– Change the Growing Medium

When you have an overwatered orchid, changing the growing medium could help revive the plant to full health. Consider using media that facilitates excellent drainage, as orchids prefer free-draining soil. The mix of the soil should have good aeration and also possess good moisture-retention properties.

Growing media that includes perlite or bark has lower water holding capacity, which is a preferable property, even mulching would work. Perlite retains less water as opposed to peat moss and is also free of weeds and disease because it’s produced under high temperatures. 

You must take note that you should avoid using bark if it’s not sufficiently composted and if it’s still green, as it tends to produce heat that could damage the root system of the orchid. Using media that replicates the natural rainforest is essential as it prevents any future issues of overwatering.

However, know that the growing medium is very crucial as it plays a significant role when watering the orchids because it helps you to know whether to water or not. On the other hand, when the growing medium is dry, then it’s time to offer your plant a drink, if there’s moisture in the growing medium, it would be too early to water.

– Place Pot with Adequate Drainage Holes

You should prevent overwatering in the future or rather stop it now by making sure that the pot has adequate drainage holes. In some cases, the problem isn’t necessarily watering too often, but it could be the issue with excess water which doesn’t seem to have the right way to escape. 

For your orchids to thrive well, the pot must have multiple drainage holes. In fact, at least four drainage holes are adequate for small containers, however, larger containers would require more. So what you must do it avoid placing objects in the pot as they tend to block the drainage holes. 

However, if you have purchased your orchid in a pot that doesn’t have any drainage holes, the orchid won’t flourish for long in that pot, so feel free to repot. Using clay pots is good for the orchids because it’s porous.

Keep in mind to place it in a pot that is large enough to be able to provide space for the roots to grow, all these will prevent and help you at the same time ensuring the plant doesn’t become over irrigated.

– Misting in Recovery Phase

Please keep in mind that watering would encourage new root development and replenish the damaged roots that you might have removed, but you could use a misting tool to keep your orchid healthy.

It is essential that you carefully water your orchid to flash out any salts that could naturally start to build up.

The common assumption for reviving overwatered orchids is that they will need a break from watering. That could be a mistake that might interfere with the recovery of your plant.

Rather, you should halt watering for at least a day and then resume once the orchid is in a new place. Withholding water usually works when the orchid develops at least two discolored leaves and also if the roots and stems still display a green color.

You can mist the plant because in this phase, although it is exhausted from the shock of too much water, but now it still needs it, but with very small amount, hence misting it is the key way to do so in the first phases of recovery.

– Watering Schedule

Different orchid species call for different watering needs, usually requiring moisture and periodic dryness. For any orchid type that has thin and soft leaves, more water is a requirement. 

However, pseudobulbs or complex and succulent orchid types require less water. Orchid plants normally require less water during their dormancy period, as they are not active and tend not to grow fast as they would during summer. You must know your orchid well and its watering requirement in order to keep it healthy.

Please take note that it’s important for the plant to also have periods of drying out in between your watering procedures. Before you develop a watering plan, you should consider factors such as temperature, airflow, humidity, type of orchid, and the potting media. 

Consider watering orchids when you feel that the soil is dry by using the finger technique. Ideally, you can water your plants once a week during the winter season and one to two times per week in the summer season.

Furthermore, good orchid care practice encourages you to empty and replace the drainage saucer after each watering session. We recommend that you water orchids in the morning as opposed to the evening, as the later time promotes fungal and bacterial growth. This is because, after the evenings the plant has less time to lose excess water through transpiration and evaporation. 

Generally, to properly water your orchid, take into account its type, season, and environment. Orchids are easy to care for and grow as houseplants as long as they are exposed to adequate air, humidity, direct sun exposure, adequate fertilizer, and water. 

– Cut off Discolored Leaves

Overwatering your orchid causes the plant to have drooping leaves and discoloration. The discolored leaves usually indicate that the roots of your orchid are suffocating from too much water exposure.

It is essential to prune the discolored leaves because overwatering orchids could cause slow foliage growth. Such discolored leaves or dead leaves should be pruned using a sterilized shear to nurse back healthy new foliage.

You must even be on the lookout for any shriveled leaves hanging down over the pot’s side to prune. The dead leaves are typically near the plant base therefore, when you prune the unwanted foliage do it with all cautiousness to avoid any harm reaching the orchid.

– Adequate Humidity Levels

The recovering orchid should be exposed to its normal humidity levels. Place the orchid where the humidity levels are between 60 and 80 percent so that it can fully flourish.

In this case you must finding the balance for your orchid in the conditions that it is exposed to is essential for the plant’s growth because a decrease in humidity levels results in increased water intake.

When the orchid root takes up moisture at a faster rate than the rate it is lost through the evapotranspiration process, a condition called edema is likely to occur. You must be sure to control the airflow surrounding the orchid, because this will prevent it from growing.

Hence, note that the orchids generally prefer fresh air around their leaves and roots, too much airflow could cause harm. Additionally, it’s essential that you also expose the orchid to direct sunlight to save your overwatered orchid so that you enjoy the plant once more!

Save Overwatered Orchid Plant


– Will an Overwatered Orchid Recover?

Yes, an orchid can recover from being overwatered if the damage is not extreme. However, you could nurse your damaged orchid to a healthy plant if the signs were identified at an early stage.

You must be on the lookout for orchid overwatering symptoms such as decaying roots, discolored leaves, and yellow stems, potting medium is soggy and produces a bad smell.

The orchid plants could recover when you remove decaying roots and repot the orchid using a new potting material. After the plant has been revived from being overwatered, it is essential to practice and adopt a watering schedule that is specific to your orchid type.

However, if the problem has not been detected early and the roots have died due to root rot, it’s unlikely that the orchid could be saved, so you will need to purchase another one.

– Do Orchids’ Bloom Fall off as a Result of Overwatering?

Overwatering could cause the orchid blooms to fall off. However, there are other factors that also cause the same effects, such as the end of a season, as well as changes in temperature and light conditions.

Therefore, to make sure that a correct diagnosis of overwatering, look for other signs such as drooping and yellowing of the orchid leaves.


Let’s quickly go over the summary of causes for overwatered orchids and the tips for reviving your plant here.

  • An overwatered orchid shows signs such as rotting roots, discolored or wrinkled leaves, and yellowing stems.
  • Overwatering can be avoided when you follow the right watering requirements for the specific orchid that you are dealing with.
  • Repotting the orchid and changing the potting medium revives an overwatered orchid.
  • Be sure to use sterilized pruning shears for trimming the damaged and dead roots so that you prevent the spread of diseases.
  • It is very important to determine whether the orchid is being overwatered or under watered, as they sometimes show similar symptoms.

Overwatering is a very common problem that most orchid growers experience, particularly beginners. Therefore, when watering orchids, stick to the guidelines that are specific to the orchid type that you have to fully enjoy blooms all year round.

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