How to Grow Orchids without Soil: 5 Super Easy Ways for You

For those seeking a unique gardening experience, understanding how to grow orchids without soil opens up a world of possibilities, with techniques ranging from water culture to specialized orchid mixes.

grow orchids without soil

Orchids are incredibly beautiful and delicate flowers that can bring a touch of elegance to any space.

While traditionally grown in soil, there are alternative methods that allow you to grow orchids without soil.

These methods offer unique features and advantages for orchid cultivation.

In this article, we will explore four easy ways to grow orchids without soil and provide tips for their care and maintenance.

Unique Features of Growing Orchids Without Soil

The key to successfully growing orchids without soil lies in providing the roots with a consistently moist environment.

grow orchids without soil

While soil may be necessary to support the orchid, it is secondary to maintaining the right moisture levels.

One interesting method is growing orchids using skewers or other supports, eliminating the need for a soil mixture altogether.

Additionally, orchids in pots without soil require less water in the winter and benefit from increased watering during the spring when they are more active.

When it comes to sunlight, any window except a southern one can support orchid growth, as direct sunlight can harm phalaenopsis, a popular orchid variety.

Why and How Can Orchids Get Their Nutrition without Soil

You may wonder how orchids obtain their essential nutrients without soil.

When orchids grow without a substrate, they rely on the extra water added during watering for their nutrition. It is crucial to use soft water for this purpose.

While some people believe that melted snow or rainwater will suffice, it is advisable to use warm boiled water to prevent potential harm caused by pollutants.

Fertilizers can also be sprayed on the leaves, diluted with water to prevent leaf burn from concentrated solutions.

grow orchids without soil

Advantages and Disadvantages of Growing Orchid without Soil

Growing orchids without soil offers several advantages.

It is an ideal technique for epiphytic orchids in their natural habitat, preventing pathogens from causing rot.

This method eliminates the need for repotting, reducing plant stress.

Orchids grown without soil receive optimal nutrient supply and do not experience root dryness.

Additionally, automated watering systems can be easily applied, simplifying plant maintenance.

However, there are some downsides to soilless growing. It requires frequently preparing nutrient solutions.

Overwatering can lead to yellowing and falling leaves, while excessive sunlight can burn the root mass. Cold temperatures and drafts can also cause plants to die quickly.

grow orchids without soil

Methods for Keeping an Orchid Without Substrate

There are several methods you can use to grow orchids without soil:

  1. Hydroponics: This method involves submerging the plant’s roots in a nutrient-rich aqueous solution.
  2. Hydroculture: An artificial environment is created for the orchid to grow.
  3. Aeroponics: Only air comes into contact with the plant’s roots.

Hydroponics has been successfully used to grow various orchid species, such as Phalaenopsis, Dendrobium, Cattleya, Vanda, and Zygopetalum.

Orchids grown in water require acclimatization, which involves gradually exposing the roots to water over time.

Another method is growing orchids on blocks of wood or driftwood.

The orchids are attached to the block using synthetic threads and covered with sphagnum moss.

This method is suitable for species like Oncidium, Aerangis, Phalaenopsis, Cattleya, and Ascocentrum.

grow orchids without soil

Growing orchids in glass vases or pots without substrate and water is another option.

This method works well for orchids with velamen-covered roots, such as Phalaenopsis and Vanda.

The orchids are attached to the vessel’s edges using wire or bamboo sticks for stability.

Hanging baskets are also a popular choice for growing orchids without soil.

The plants’ roots freely dangle from wooden or plastic baskets, adding a stunning visual element to any space.

Another method for you to grow orchid (moth orchids to be specific) without soil is Kokedama, which is a Japanese planting technique that involves wrapping the plant’s root system in a ball of soil and moss.

This method allows for a unique and visually appealing way to display orchids.

Grow a Moth Orchid in Kokedama: Step By Step Guide

Step 1: Prepare The Orchid:

Choose a healthy moth orchid with strong roots. Ensure it’s in good condition and free from any signs of disease or pests.

Step 2: Soak the Sphagnum Moss

Place the sphagnum moss in a container and soak it in water until it’s fully hydrated. Squeeze out any excess water.

Step 3: Remove Soil from Orchid Roots

Gently remove the orchid from its original pot and carefully shake off as much of the existing potting medium as possible without damaging the roots.

Step 4: Create the Kokedama Ball

Take a handful of the hydrated moss and form it into a ball around the orchid’s roots. Be gentle to avoid damaging the roots.

Step 5: Secure with Twine

Wrap twine or string tightly around the moss ball to hold it in place. Make sure it’s secure but not too tight to allow for proper air circulation.

Step 6: Wrap in Plastic (optional)

If you’re concerned about excess moisture, you can wrap the moss ball in a layer of plastic wrap. This will help retain moisture but should be checked regularly to prevent overwatering.

Step 7: Hang or Display

Use additional twine or string to create a loop for hanging, or place the kokedama in a decorative dish or container for display.

Kokedama Orchid Care

grow orchids without soil
  1. Watering:

    • To water, gently submerge the entire kokedama in a container of water for about 10-15 minutes or until it feels fully hydrated. Allow excess water to drain.
  2. Fertilize:

    • Use a water-soluble orchid fertilizer diluted to half strength and apply it during the orchid’s active growing season (usually spring and summer). Follow the manufacturer’s instructions.
  3. Light and Temperature:

    • Provide bright, indirect light for your moth orchid. Avoid direct sunlight, as it can scorch the leaves. Maintain a comfortable room temperature, ideally between 65-75°F (18-24°C).
  4. Monitor and Adjust Care:

    • Keep an eye on the orchid’s health, including leaf color, growth, and overall appearance. Adjust watering and light conditions as needed.

Growing moth orchids in kokedama can be a beautiful and creative way to showcase these elegant plants.

Just be sure to monitor the moisture levels and provide the orchid with the appropriate care to ensure its health and well-being.

Home Care for Orchids That Grow Without Soil

grow orchids without soil

Proper care is essential for the health and wellbeing of orchids grown without soil. Here are some tips to ensure their success:

Watering and Fertilizing

When watering soilless orchids, use mild, evaporated water with low mineral salt content.

On warm, sunny days, water them 2-3 times a week, and on cool, cloudy days, water them once a week.

The water temperature during watering should be between 86 and 96 degrees Fahrenheit (30 and 36 degrees Celsius).

It is recommended to apply a complex orchid fertilizer with every watering.

Light Requirement

Orchids thrive in well-ventilated environments protected from direct sunlight. They require a minimum of 12 hours of light per day.

In situations where natural light is insufficient, adding additional light with photo lamps is beneficial.

grow orchids without soil

Temperature Tolerance

Orchids can tolerate temperatures between 68-80 °F (20-27 °C) during the day and at least 80 °F (16 °C) at night in the summer.

However, during colder months, it is best to avoid temperatures below 58-65 °F (14-18 °C) during the day and (54 °F) 12 °C at night.

Temperatures below 43 degrees (6 °C) may cause the plant to die.

Air Humidity

Orchids require higher air humidity levels of 70 to 80 percent in the spring and summer.

During the winter, their humidity needs can be reduced by up to 50-60%. Maintaining optimal humidity for orchids is important to their overall health.

Soilless Orchid Planting Issues That Could Arise

grow orchids without soil

If you notice yellowing and wilting leaves in your young orchid plants, several conditions may be responsible:

  • Simultaneous root rot and yellowing leaves indicate overwatering.
  • Insufficient humidity and lack of water spraying.
  • Prolonged exposure to sunlight during hot weather.
  • Excessive rain or extreme cold temperatures in winter.
  • Poor ventilation in tall glass containers.

Growing orchids without soil requires time and effort, but the rewards are worth it.

The exquisite beauty and delicate scent of these flowers make them a worthwhile addition to your home or garden.

Happy orchid growing!