Orchids are a favorite of tropical flowers for everyone to grow. Though these flowers are very beautiful, they can be challenging to keep happy.
This picky tropical plant loves attention and loves being left alone as well. I have had a large learning curve understanding what is best for this plant.
Orchids love humidity and thrive when the humidity levels are just right. You don’t want too much humidity, but you want a fair amount. I had a hard time ensuring that my orchids had enough humidity to keep them happy but not too much to cause them to droop.
Taking care of an orchid requires that you have a green thumb. The primary part of the care or orchids is understanding how humidity affects this flower.
You also want to know how much humidity your orchids need and how to measure that. When it is dry, it is good for you to learn how to increase the humidity for your orchid to keep it happy.
How Does Humidity Affect Orchids
Orchids thrive when the humidity levels are between 40% to 70%, the higher number is especially important if you live in an area with a forced heat source. Humidity helps the plant to thrive by providing them a constant water source.
When the humidity is too low, the plants tend to wilt because they need the moisture to maintain their appearance. The thin stem coupled with the larger flowers requires a water source to help keep the plant upright and vibrant. The water in humid air provides a constant flow to the plant that lets it take in as much as it needs to be healthy.
However, you want to make sure you have an air source as well.
Air Source and Humidity
Coupled with the humidity, orchids need air movement to help them maintain their vibrance. The wet air can weigh the plant down when it isn’t placed in an area of circulating air. Having a small fan to keep humid air circulating gently can help to keep the plant happy.
I would place my orchid in a room that has a paddle fan that can be set to a slow, moderate speed. You don’t want the plant right in front of an oscillating fan, but rather in an area where it will feel the effects. One of the mistakes I made was that I forgot that plants need this airflow at night as well.
What does the proper air movement do to help the plant thrive in a humid environment? Well, it helps cause a gentle natural movement in the foliage that feels like being outdoors.
Also, it helps just the right amount of moisture from the air to settle on the leaves without weighing them down with too much water. The gentle circulation of humid air is your orchid’s paradise.
Benefits of Air Circulation Include:
- Reduces bacterial diseases and other types of mold spores from growing on your orchids.
- It helps to keep the temperature moderate on warmer than usual days which promotes new growth.
- Proper airflow will make sure your orchids are getting enough carbon dioxide and the oxygen that is necessary for proper photosynthesis. (That is the process your plants go through to turn the sun into energy.)
- The air exchange will help to flush out various air pollutants. Pollutants such as ethylene can cause your buds to dry out and drop.
How Much Humidity Do Orchids Need?
We touched on this already in the above post, but most orchids need between 40% to 70% humidity in the air. If you live in a naturally humid climate, you probably don’t need to reach the higher end of this number. However, if you live in an area that is dry and has forced heat, you need to get closer to 70% humidity.
Forced heat tends to rob a home of humidity levels, and that will not make your orchid happy. Therefore, you are going to need to introduce a humidity source that will help your plant feel comfortable.
How to Measure Humidity in your Home?
Humidity is primarily measured as relative humidity. Relative humidity will tell you how much humidity is in your air by indicating the amount of moisture relative to the amount of air at a specific temperature.
To make this easier for you, humidity is measured by how much water vapor your air will hold at a specific temperature. At 100% humidity, you will see condensation.
As a rule, warm air holds more moisture than cold air does.
To measure the relative humidity in your home to keep your orchid happy, you want to get something called a hygrometer.
There are two primary types of hygrometers that you can choose from, a mechanical one and an electric one. Either one will work just fine as long as it is appropriately calibrated. You can find these at any hardware store.
The Different Types of Hygrometer
|Cost||$15 to $60||$7 to $30|
|Appearance||Plastic with an LCD display||Plastic with around pointer and display|
|Accuracy||Usually accurate when humidity levels are above 30%||Fairly accurate when they are calibrated properly|
|Easy to calibrate?||It cannot be done||Adjusting the pointer on some|
|Humid Sensitivity||Slow in humidity changes||May stick when humidity does not change.|
Ultimately what type of hygrometer you use will depend on your preferences. For me, it is easier to use the electric one because it is quick and straightforward to give you a reading.
Helping Your Orchids Deal with High Humidity
Even though your orchid is loving all this humidity, you still need to be careful in high humidity. When the natural air levels in your home reach above 70%, then you want to help your orchid continue to thrive. There are a few things you can do to help your orchid deal with the heightened humidity.
Avoid Excessive Watering
You do not want to water your orchid all the time under normal circumstances, much more when it is very humid in your home.
Your orchid will draw water from the air when it needs it and with the proper airflow, avoid what it doesn’t need. Therefore, by adding more water to your orchid in high humidity, you will essentially drown it.
Improve Air Circulation
I touched on this earlier in the post. You want to make sure there is good air movement where you keep your orchids. This air movement is crucial to ensuring that your orchids don’t get bogged down with too much water.
Having a gentle circulating fan moving the air in a natural motion away from your orchid can help it tolerate the high levels of humidity in the home by whisking away the excess water.
Just like you have a favorite spot in your home, your orchid will too. Proper orchid placement will help your orchid to handle the humidity better. You want to place your orchids near south or east-facing windows. These are the preferred locations for this beautiful plant.
West windows tend to be too hot as they take in the afternoon sun and north windows are too dark for this tropical thriving plant.
Occasionally, you will have to reposition your plant as the seasons change to make sure they are getting the best temperatures possible.
For example, if you live in the North, you will want to place your plant near a west-facing window during the winter months when the sun is few and far and between.
Use the Suitable Soil
The right soil will help with extreme humidity by preventing your orchid from soaking up too much water. There are a variety of potting mediums that you can use to help your orchid thrives. The most popular is an orchid potting soil that will include a few other mediums.
The suitable mediums for orchids will include peat moss or tree fern. These will help to keep the moisture levels proper for your flowers to maintain their beauty. You can get other mixes that include other ingredients such as rock wool, charcoal, sand, cork, and polystyrene foam.
The suitable potting soil with the right mixture of ingredients will keep your orchid from becoming waterlogged. Play around with the different mediums to see which works best for your orchid.
Along with all the other vital things to help your orchid survive high humidity, you need proper lighting. Lighting may not seem like it would be suitable for humidity, but it really can be. The right light will help to evaporate excess water.
Your orchids are going to require a certain quality of lighting that you might not be familiar with. A quick crash course from my experiences is getting lighting that has colors in the spectrum. These colors will help your orchid to understand the different cycles of blooming and growth.
Fluorescent bulbs are ideal for orchid growth as they distribute light more evenly than other types of lighting do. Furthermore, fluorescent bulbs are less likely to lose their brightness over time. Using these types of bulbs is an inexpensive way to ensure your orchid is getting the right amount of lighting necessary for optimal survival.
Signs Your Orchid Needs More Humidity
There are a few key things to look out for when it comes to your orchid. You want to keep a close watch to ensure that your orchids are getting enough humidity.
The best way to find out if your orchid needs humidity is to check the soil. If the soil is dry and crumbles under your touch, then your orchid needs more water.
Another sign to look out for is if their leaves are starting to brown on the edges. Brown edges are another clear indicator that your orchid is not getting enough to drink.
Dropping flowers and even petals that start to fall are also clear signs your orchids are going to need some humidity and fast.
If the rest of your house has dry and warm air, chances are your orchids are feeling it too. Trust me, and if you feel how dry it is at home, your plants are just as aware. What you need to do is make sure to get some humidity going as soon as possible.
Ways to Increase Humidity for Your Orchids
When you start to notice the humidity in the room starting to dwindle, there are ways you can increase humidity to keep your tropical plants happy.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to increase humidity quickly is with a humidifier. By strategically placing a humidifier in the room, you can quickly increase the humidity levels to optimal. Please make sure not to place the humidifier too close to your orchids, or you will over-water them.
Be sure to keep your humidifier clean so that you prevent fungal growth. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how to and how often to clean your humidifier.
Another way to increase the humidity for your orchids is by making an ideal environment for humidity to foster. A plate with pebbles in and is filled to just below the height of the pebble in water can naturally increase humidity. The water will evaporate into the air and create the moisture your flower craves.
Group together a few orchid plants. You don’t want them so close that they are crowding each other. Having the orchids together will help them to develop their own micro-humidity environment. The flowers will automatically develop an environment that will spread moisture from plant to plant neatly.
It is the simplest form of increasing humidity in your plants. Misting is a form of watering your plants but without actually dumping water on them. Get a spray bottle that mists and fill it with lukewarm water. You don’t want the water to be too cold or too warm.
Gently mist your flowers with a few sprays that are not directly at the plant. You want the mist to fall on the plants like a light rain gently. By doing this a few times a week, you will increase the humidity levels to optimal for the plants.
Be careful not to over mist the plants. Too much mist is not suitable for them either. Therefore, make sure that you are giving your plants enough water to keep them well hydrated but not diluted.
Keeping your orchids happy is not an easy task. It takes some actual trial and error to keep this tropical beauty healthy. I learned the hard way what not to do when it comes to taking care of my orchids. Imparting this wisdom on you will help you avoid some mistakes that could be detrimental to your plant.
Make sure to check the humidity levels in the room where you are keeping your orchids. If you find the room is either too humid or not humid enough, take some of the steps listed above to help you achieve the right amount of humidity for your orchid.
By following these steps, you increase your chances of having healthy and happy orchids.