There are three main types of orchids: epiphytes, lithophytes, and terrestrials. The aerial roots of epiphytic and lithophytic orchids are covered in velamen. This particular tissue acts as suction hairs for the orchids.
Photosynthesis occurs in some orchids through the velamen of the roots. In nature, these orchids thrive without soil contact.
Hydroponics, hydroculture, and aeroponics are the most suitable methods for growing orchids without soil. To ensure thriving Orchids without soil, maintain a consistently moist environment. Then, water the orchids with a solution of nutrients to ensure they receive all of the elements supplied.
- Unique Features of Growing Orchids Without Soil
- Grow Without Soil: How Orchids Get Their Nutrition
- Advantages and Disadvantages
- Methods for Keeping an Orchid Without Substrate
- Home Care For Orchids That Grow Without Soil
- Soilless Orchid Planting Issues That Could Arise
Unique Features of Growing Orchids Without Soil
The only way to successfully grow an orchid without soil is to provide the roots with a consistently moist environment.
In the end, tree bark and other extra components are secondary because they are necessary to support the orchid. However, you won’t need the soil mixture if you’ve used skewers or something else.
An orchid in a pot that doesn’t have soil needs less water in the winter. You should also increase how often you water your flowers during spring when they grow more actively.
Any window except the southern one can grow orchids, but direct sunlight harms phalaenopsis.
Grow Without Soil: How Orchids Get Their Nutrition
When an orchid grows without a substrate, it obtains nutrients from the extra water added when watered. Keep in mind that the water must be soft.
Even though some people believe that melting snow or rainwater will suffice, this is not the case. Water that has washed away the city smog will simply kill the plant if you do not live in the country.
As a result, it is best to use warm boiled water to sprinkle. It is also possible to spray the leaf with fertilizer. Still, it is mixed with water, resulting in three times more water. This is to prevent the leaves from burning.
Advantages and Disadvantages
The following are some of the advantages of growing an orchid without soil:
- This technique is ideal for growing epiphytic orchids in their natural habitat.
- You can stop pathogens from growing in the soil and causing rot. This is critical because rotting in the root system is typical for orchids.
- Growing the flower without soil prevents repotting, which is very stressful for the plant.
- You must supply nutrients diluting with water to ensure optimal nutrient supply and avoid overdose.
- The plant will stay strong and healthy because it will get the right amount of valuable micronutrients, keeping its roots from drying out.
- It is possible to apply centralized (automatic) watering systems to many plants, making the plant’s maintenance easier.
- Sometimes, soilless growing has downsides, such as frequently preparing nutrient solutions.
- Sometimes growers don’t know when to water and water too often. This causes the leaves to turn yellow and fall off.
- The root mass can be burned by too much sunlight;
- The plant dies fast when it is exposed to cold or drafts.
Methods for Keeping an Orchid Without Substrate
There are several methods for growing plants without soil:
- Hydroponics: The plant’s roots are submerged in a nutrient-rich aqueous solution.
- Hydroculture: An artificial environment in which to grow.
- Aeroponics: Only air comes into contact with the roots of the plant.
Orchids Growing In Water
Hydroponics has been used successfully to grow Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Cattleya, Vanda, and Zygopetalum, among other plants.
An orchid may take several weeks to adapt to growing in water, a process known as acclimatization.
- The first step is to remove the plant from the soil, clean the roots, and then submerge it in water for two days at 30 percent of its height. After that, the water is drained, leaving only 0.5 inches (1 cm).
- After a week, the orchid is placed in water for five days, with only one day to dry out.
- To maintain the plant’s health, keep it submerged in fresh water for as long as possible, and check on the roots every week.
- Small pebbles or expanded clay can be used at the bottom of the pot for added stability.
The method’s benefits are self-evident: ease of maintenance without the need for frequent transplants, lack of disease, and pest development.
Among the drawbacks are:
- A steady supply of root-nourishing solutions is required.
- Maintaining constant coolness is essential; therefore, monitoring water levels and temperatures is critical.
- Conditions for proper maintenance can result in issues such as:
- The root system begins to rot away. This will most likely happen if the plant is overwatered or the pot is too small.
- Sluggish and wrinkled leaves indicate that the water temperature is too high.
- There have been no flowers for a long time. It is necessary to have a difference in temperature between day and night of 6-8 degrees.
On blocks of Wood
A block is a large piece of bark, or even driftwood, attached to orchids. In addition to hanging on the wall or the ceiling, blocks can also be framed.
Plants are affixed to the block using synthetic threads, and the structure is then covered in sphagnum moss to complete the look.
Many orchid species do well in a block of bark. The most important ones are as follows:
The bark of oak, cork, and quebracho wood is the block’s most reliable and long-lasting option. In addition, mangrove driftwood and other non-rotting wood products are used as a frame (base).
The block is made of pine bark at least 15 mm thick to prevent rot and mildew. It is sometimes suggested that ordinary foam plastic be used as the primary material for the block.
Spraying water directly on the roots and leaves of the plants while avoiding the flowers is a standard method of watering blocks of plants.
Water is sprayed on the roots until water drops begin to fall and on the leaves until their surface is covered with dust, but no droplets form.
Discover the right way to hydrate your orchid in my article right here.
In A Glass Vase or Pot With No Substrate And No Water
In a glass vase, an orchid with its roots exposed looks stunning.
The species best suited to this method are those whose roots are covered with a thick layer of velamen.
Some orchids do not require substrates and can get their nutrition and moisture from the air alone. The Phalaenopsis and Vanda are two examples.
Differences in Growing:
 The stem and leaves of Phalaenopsis are elevated above the surface of the container in a glass dish.
Wire or bamboo sticks are used to secure the plant to the vessel’s edges for added stability.
Hydrogel or foam plastic to the vessel can help keep phalaenopsis roots secure. However, Aeroponics does not necessitate such a filler, which is too similar to growing plants in soil.
 Vanda, also known as the “air queen,” only grows in height and not sideways. Glass narrow and tall vases are ideal for their growth.
The vase’s stability is provided by the leaves touching the glass walls, and resting on a ball of powerful roots at the bottom.
Elongated cup-shaped glass containers can be used for Vanda cultivation for a long time until the Vandas outgrow the container and begin to sway and fall over.
The Method Has The Following Advantages:
- With proper care, the vanda can bloom for up to a month and a half several times a year.
- Roots will not rot due to poor watering and improper soil.
- No root damage is caused by moving the plant because transplanting it is unnecessary. It’s easy to keep tabs on the health of the root system this way.
- There is no need for the elegance of the vase’s shape. With its unusual flowers, Vanda itself is the main decorative element in a round or square high clear glass vessel with a flat bottom.
Watering is the most challenging aspect of growing a vanda orchid in Aeroponics.
This procedure involves filling the tall vessel with water until the root system is completely submerged. Then, after 30 to 45 minutes, the water should be drained by tilting the container.
I suggested removing the plant from the vessel and soaking the roots in water to prevent plaque buildup on the glass walls. Then, wash and clean the container.
To avoid damaging the delicate roots, which can be found adhering to the glass, do this with extreme care and precision.
If you want to grow an orchid in a glass container with a drainage hole in the bottom, you can simply immerse the container with the plant in water to the desired depth.
In Hanging Baskets
The plant’s roots are allowed to freely dangle from the baskets made of wood or plastic and hung from the ceiling or the wall.
You can use hanging plants to beautify a home flower corner or a miniature greenhouse.
Hanging baskets are ideal for growing dendrobiums, cattleyas, and vandas.
The vanda’s aerial roots can grow up to three feet in length, the same height as the stem.
The mature plant’s stem is secured to the basket’s hanging point with synthetic strings to prevent falling. Non-rotting wood or polyvinyl chloride (PVC) is the best material for the basket.
I put mine in a pot with layers of sphagnum moss and bark, but you could probably put some moss in the basket to keep it moist for a little longer.
For aesthetic purposes, sphagnum can fill in the gaps left by the plant once it has been placed in its basket. Spraying is the preferred method of watering orchids in a hanging basket.
Home Care For Orchids That Grow Without Soil
Watering and Fertilizing
Use mild, evaporated water with a low mineral salt content to water your orchids.
Water your soilless orchids as follows:
- On warm, sunny days, 2-3 times a week.
- On cool, cloudy days, once a week.
- During watering, the water temperature should be between 86 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit (30 and 36 degrees Celsius).
- Apply a complex fertilizer for orchids, in the form of a fragile solution, at every watering.
Orchids thrive in a well-ventilated environment that is protected from direct sunlight. At the very least, they require a 12-hour day.
Therefore, adding more light with photo lamps in other situations is always essential.
Temperatures of 68-80 °F (20-27 °C) during the day and at least 80 °F (16 °C) at night are considered acceptable in the summer.
However, when it’s cold outside, it’s best if the temperature doesn’t fall below 58-65 °F (14-18 °C) during the day and (54 °F) 12 °C at night.
If the temperature falls below 43 degrees (6 °C), the plant may die.
In the spring and summer, orchids require an air humidity level of 70 to 80 percent. In the winter, their needs are reduced by up to 50%-60%.
If you want to keep these conditions, here is how to maintain optimal humidity for orchids.
Soilless Orchid Planting Issues That Could Arise
If you notice that your young plants’ leaves are turning yellow and wilting, you may have one or more of the following conditions:
- If root rot is noticed simultaneously as yellowing of the leaves, then general overwatering.
- Insufficient humidity and insufficient spraying of water.
- In hot weather, prolonged exposure to the sun’s rays.
- In the winter, expect rain or bitterly cold temperatures.
- Plants that are not adequately ventilated when kept in a tall glass container.
Growing orchids as a hobby take a lot of time and effort. However, beautiful, delicate flowers with an exquisite scents are an even better reward. Stunning beauty is yours for the taking.