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How To Grow Orchids Without Soil

How To Grow Orchids Without Soil

You may have heard growing orchids is difficult but it turns out that learning how to grow orchids without soil is much easier than growing them in soil. Really it’s true!

So if you’ve always wanted to grow orchids but were too intimidated by their reputation as hard to grow then growing them without soil is for you.

How To Grow Orchids Without Soil You can do it

You can grow orchids without soil by using one of three methods: Leaching, Potting, or Mixed Media.

These 3 methods use soilless media or LECA or some similar type of media to support the roots.

There is a fourth way to grow orchids without soil and that is hydroponic orchid growing using only water.

Leaching is a method in which the plant’s roots are submerged in water, but the pot itself is placed above the water table.

The idea behind this method is that you are using capillary action to provide water and nutrients from below into your plants’ roots, instead of leaving them to search for their own food sources on land.

This is sometimes called bottom watering and some orchid growers fill their pots with LECA and place their orchids on LECA in a tray.

They may use a wick in each pot or may just set the water level low enough to only wet the very bottom of the pot.

The water in the tray also helps raise the humidity around the orchids.

LECA stands for Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate. These red clay balls are also called hydroton.

Potted plants are grown in pots filled with either bark or moss and planted directly into them (no root disturbance necessary).

Although they don’t use soil this is not what we want. This is how orchids are grown traditionally.

But we want to grow in water or stones and avoid using organic grow media entirely.

Converting Your Orchid: Semi-Hydroponics

If you have an orchid growing in bark or moss it needs to be prepared to grow in hydroponics.

This video will show you how to do it for semi-hydro.

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Growing Orchids With Water Culture

Water culture involves no growing media at all. Plants are placed in a jar or vase partially filled with water.

Periodically they are given a dry time of a few days after the water is poured out. Then they are resubmerged partially again.

The water in the partially filled vase provides the orchid’s roots with the humidity they need.

Semi Water Culture and Full Water Culture: What’s the Difference?

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How Orchids Grow Naturally

This may seem like a strange way to grow orchids but actually, the wet and dry periods mimic the way orchids grow naturally.

Orchids in nature are epiphytes that attach themselves to trees. They have specialized aerial roots, unlike most other plants.

They actually get food from the air and are exposed to frequent wet and dry cycles.

They get wet when it rains, breezes dry them out and then they get wet again when it rains. The cycle repeats over and over.

Water Culture Works

This method works very well and many orchid growers find their orchids grow much better this way.

There are variations in how water culture is used. 

These techniques vary by how much water the orchid is in. The wet and dry times also vary between growers.

Mixed Media Using LECA

Mixed media means that either orchid potting mix or sphagnum moss has been added to some type of inert substrate like LECA

Then it’s all topped off with sphagnum moss so that it doesn’t dry out too quickly. 

This method works well if you’re looking for something more decorative than just plain soil would provide alone.

Orchid Terrarium Best Of Both Worlds

Orchid Terrarium

I have built a terrarium for my orchids with a layer of stones filled with water just below the top of the roots.

The roots are not actually in water but there is a layer of sphagnum moss on top of the stones.

The moss wicks water to the roots and helps maintain healthy humidity. This is really a variation on water culture.

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I guess you could say this is mixed media because there is moss with the stones. But I consider it a hydroponic system like water culture.

It would work fine without the sphagnum moss but I think the moss makes it look more natural.

But it is easier to maintain by just keeping the water at the same level. So no emptying and refilling jars.

This is also a very decorative way to grow orchids. It looks natural and you can add branches or other decorations to it. Read the article:
Orchid Terrarium DIY [An Unusual Fish Tank Transformation] – Hydroponic Orchids

It’s easy to grow orchids without soil

  • It’s easy to grow orchids in water.
  • Orchids are not difficult to care for.
  • They don’t require soil.
  • They don’t require much light.
  • They can be grown in a small space, such as a kitchen window or a desk at work!

You will absolutely love growing orchids in water

You will absolutely love growing orchids in water. You can grow orchids in a variety of ways, and there are many different methods for doing so.

So you can grow orchids with soil if you want, but you can also grow them without soil. 

In fact, the easiest way to get started is to use water culture. You don’t need to deal with messy orchid mixes.

The problem with all organic mediums is that they decompose. They get tighter and lose their water holding capacity.

But growing orchids without soil completely avoids these problems and the need for repotting.

The best orchid varieties for hydroponics

There are a number of orchid varieties that do well in hydroponics. Here are the most popular:

  • Phalaenopsis – These flowers are often referred to as moth orchids because of their long, slender petals and plant shape (like moths). They come in many different colors and sizes depending on how much light you give them, but all will thrive when grown indoors using hydroponics techniques!
  • Cattleya – This is a beautiful orchid with a large flower and striking colors. They have been successfully grown in hydroponic systems for years.
  • Oncidium – This genus is well suited to growing in baskets since they can be pretty big at maturity. They also require lots of water, so they’re easy to grow using this method as well.

How to grow orchids in LECA

You’ll need to find a good-quality LECA. Some LECA can be extremely dirty and you do want to wash it before use.

Once your LECA has been cleaned up make sure it is wet. If it isn’t you won’t get the wicking action you want.

Fill up pots with it and plant your orchid roots firmly into the center of each pot so that they are just hidden in amongst their new medium.

Watering your new orchid should occur with water wicking up from a tray. Sometimes the top can be dry if humidity is low in your house.

If that’s the case use a spray bottle to wet the top of the stones. Orchids like being misted so spray them too.

If you get a white film on the top that is from salt build-up from your fertilizer. Rinse your pot out over the sink with lukewarm water.

Make sure to rinse it thoroughly to flush out the salt.

Also feed weekly, weakly. LECA needs much fewer nutrients than an organic medium.

Orchids are now much easier to grow in your home.

  • Orchids are now much easier to grow in your home.
  • Growing orchids without soil is not difficult and can be a very rewarding experience for anyone interested in growing plants.
  • The easiest way to start growing orchids is by placing a few small cuttings on top of some bark chips, moss, or other inert media and watering them daily.

How To Grow Orchids Without Soil Conclusion

Growing orchids in water is a fun and easy way to get started with hydroponics.

You can grow orchids in water and avoid messy soil in your home. It is actually easier than using an orchid mix.

The best part about growing orchids in water is that it doesn’t require any soil! Once they get adapted to it your plants will be happier too!

Just make sure you’re starting with healthy plants and you’ll be able to enjoy all the benefits of hydroponics without any of the hassles of dirt.

Read more: Growing Orchids In Hydroponics: Tips and Tricks

More info on semi-hydroponics https://orchidbliss.com/orchids-semi-hydroponics/

More info on water culture https://orchideria.com/growing-orchids-in-water-complete-guide/

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