Orchid Humidity and Temperature

There is a very common misconception in the novice horticulturist world that states that orchids do not require a large amount of water or watering in order to survive. The phrase most often heard is “orchids are air plants, they get what they need from the air and you do not need to add anything else to them”.  Now if you were living in the middle of a tropical forest with your orchid growing on the side of a healthy tree and enjoying daily tropical rainstorms then you may find a fair amount of truth to that statement. However, the majority of us keep our orchids inside our temperature and climate controlled homes. To help your orchid thrive inside of your home it is vital that you have an understanding of orchid humidity needs as well as their preferred temperature requirements; not doing so may result in the loss of your orchids.

Understanding The Ideal Humidity

Humidity refers to the amount of water that is circulating in the air; to survive and thrive, orchids tend to prefer a higher humidity than most of your other indoor plants will. If you live in an area that has a naturally higher humidity then you may not need to artificially add to the air humidity inside of your home.

However, if you live in a much drier climate and your home is temperature and climate controlled throughout a large portion of the year then you will absolutely need to take the necessary steps to increase the humidity and the amount of water that your orchids receive.

It is important that you understand the specific humidity requirements of each of your orchids as some tend to prefer a much more humid environment than others do.

Keeping It Humid

Like the majority of plants, orchids absorb moisture from the air around them; in an area with a high humidity index this would mean you do not need to water your orchid as often as you water your other houseplants.

Orchids love a humid environment but they definitely do not like soaking in water for lengthy amounts of time; avoid wet-feet syndrome, which can lead to rotted roots, and keep your orchids much happier!

Consider the following more orchid-friendly methods of ensuring the health of your orchids.

  • Humidity Trays
    A humidity tray is an excellent choice for increasing the orchid humidity inside of your home. While there are certainly specific trays created for this purpose, an enterprising plant lover could use a large bowl or even a cookie baking sheet. The trays are filled with water and placed below the orchids; be certain that the orchid’s roots are not touching the water but are, instead, elevated above the water to allow them to absorb the water as it evaporates.
  • Keep Them Close
    An additional method of increasing orchid humidity is to place your orchids in close proximity to one another; be certain that they are placed together with enough room between them for a good amount of air circulation!
  • Cool Mist Humidifier
    An affordable and easy method of quickly increasing the orchid humidity in your home is to purchase a cool mist humidifier. If you are a parent with small children then there are good odds that you already have one to use when your children have stuffy noses. Your orchids will appreciate having the humidifier near their roots a few times a month!

Temperature Requirements

Most plants take their cues for blooming or producing fruit by the temperatures around them; however, for indoor plant lovers who keep their homes at a consistent temperature year-round it can prove to be difficult for plants to know what they should be doing in terms of their life-cycle.

It is important, again, to know the temperature requirements of your particular orchids as some simply prefer a cooler environment than their counterparts do. If your specific orchids require a higher temperature then you could consider placing them in a sunny window that receives a good five hours of direct sunlight during the day; while a cooler temperature loving orchid could be placed in a light and bright window that does not receive much direct sun at all.

Temperature Ranges

The majority of orchids prefer at least a 10 degree difference between their daytime highs and their night-time lows in order to help them grow correctly. By being keenly aware of the temperature inside of your home at all times you will be much more likely to grow happy and healthy orchids.

  • Warm Growing Orchids.
    Orchids that prefer warmer temperatures, like Phalaenopsis Party Dress or Temple Cloud and Vanda sanderana or tricolor suavis, prefer a day-time temperature high of 85 degrees F / 29C with their preferred night-time lows no higher than 60 degrees F / 15.5 C
  • Moderate or Intermediate Growing Orchids.
    Orchids that prefer a more moderate climate, like Cattleya Bow Bells or bowringiana as well as Paphiopedilum callosum or fairieanum, prefer a day-time temperature high of 80 degrees F / 27 C with their preferred night-time lows no higher than 55 degrees F / 13C.
  • Cool Growing Orchids.
    Orchids that prefer cooler temperatures, like Cymbidium devonianum or Peter Pan and Masdevallia coccinea or simula, prefer a day-time temperature high of 75 degrees F / 24 C with their preferred night-time lows no higher than 50 degrees F / 10 C.

Moving The Air

It is vital that you ensure your orchids are spread far enough apart to have a light breeze running through them in order to keep their roots and leaves moving; doing so will greatly reduce the likelihood of your orchids falling victim to a whole host of fungal and bacterial infections. If the room that they are in has a ceiling fan then you should consider keeping it on at all times to help boost the air movement around your orchids.

It is very likely that you will have blooming success with your orchids if the humidity in your home is kept at around 50%; however, you are much more likely to see your plants thriving if they are allowed to live in their near-perfect conditions. Find out the specific requirements of your orchids and watch them bloom!