A common question about orchids is, “How long can orchids go without water?” While it’s not possible to answer this question in a blanket way, there are a few general rules of thumb that can be given. Most orchids will thrive for only a week or two if they’re growing in a well-drained, slightly moist environment. If you are caring for an indoor plant orchid, it’s a good idea to water it once a day, if not more, and to give it a minimum of half a cup of water per day. For outdoor orchids, keep the water flowing and don’t over-water the plant, as this will cause it to become over-watered and die.
One thing to remember about orchid water requirements is that some plants do better than others. African Violets, for example, grow very well with only a trickle of water. Other plants, like Paphiopedilums, fare better when they are given constant attention and water. It’s important to make sure your orchid plants receive all the proper nutrients and water to grow as healthy and beautiful as possible.
If you’re just beginning the care of your new orchid plants, you’ll want to begin by giving them regular feedings. You can start with a low-towable feeder that dispenses pellets, but you may find that you need to give your orchid plants water directly. The pellets are available in most pet stores or nursery stores, so that is usually an option. Make sure and read the package label carefully because some pellets contain organic materials that can be harmful to orchid plants. If you’re concerned about toxicity, it’s probably best to simply buy a lower quality feeder rather than go with pellets. In any event, however, you should keep your orchid plants well-hydrated and provide them with some regular or supplemental water.
Some orchid growers mistakenly believe that their plants will quickly self-sustain when given regular or supplemental water. While true that your orchids will survive on a regular basis even with minimal or no water, there are times when you will need to give your plants water, especially if you have planted them in a very shallow container. The truth is, your orchid won’t survive very long without water, at least not for very long unless you allow it to dry out between waterings. There are certainly times when your orchid needs to be replenished, but this usually isn’t done in pots or containers where the plants are growing actively.
If you have recently brought home your first orchid plant, you may want to put it into a pot or container right away. This is not recommended for older orchids, since they are less likely to survive the shock of being placed in a new environment. You might also want to put your orchids directly into a large saucer filled with water. However, orchids are not very happy either way. It would be a good idea to place your orchids on a flat surface out of direct sunlight or to put them in a separate but warm place like a terrarium. If you cannot put them directly into the water right away, you can bring the plant out to a sunny spot or to a balcony where you can allow the top part of the plant to partially dry out before you re-introduce it to the soil.
How long can orchids go without water? It really depends on the type of orchid, how much it weighs, and how much you feed it. An indoor plant that receives regular direct-illuminating light will survive for quite a long time without needing water, provided it is well-fed. A Cattleya will die within a week if you do not feed it regularly.