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meyermike_1

Does anyone here use rain water for their orchids?

I have been hearing lots of conflicting stuff about it.

I have been told I should add chlorine into my 32 gallon buckets if I am to store it to kill off bacteria and the like.

I have been told to use distilled water instead.

I have been told not to treat the rain water at all even if I store it for weeks.

I have been told to use a U.V sterilizer in my water saved.

I have been told tap water is the worst.

Does anyone use rain water and if so do you treat it and has it ever caused bacterial issues with your collection?

Thank you.

Comments (21)

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    last year
    last modified: last year

    I use rain water for all plants, when it rains, during the warm season. It would be too impractical and uncomfortable to go in & out with a dripping wet can so many times when it's cold because I have well over 100 pots to water, including some orchids kept as aquatics. If you have few enough plants that distilled is practical, that's great.


    Bacteria has never been a problem for me with caught rain water, but mosquito larvae can mature and turn into new mosquitoes if it is not dumped at least weekly. I haven't tried to save rain water for more than a week so I can't compare about keeping it for longer than that but if it didn't have any discoloration or odor, I would use it for plants.


    Tap water is not the same from system to system. It's likely to be chlorinated, and have flouride in it, &/or high PH from lime. Just depends on the particular system. But knowing that many plants don't appreciate those things, it's worth at least seasonal flushing with rain or other "zero" water like distilled. If one lives where rain water has unhealthy particulates, that's not an inherent problem with rain, but with the surrounding environment.

    Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.) thanked Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
  • tsugajunkie z5 SE WI ♱
    last year

    I use rain water, sometimes stored for weeks and have had no issues.

    tj

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  • Billsc
    last year
    last modified: last year

    Myermike, Rainwater, and three ice cubes per week directly into the pot.....Think about it.

    Orchids grow all over the world-maybe excluding Antarctica-, but most places in the world, and predominately in the deep dark, hot steamy jungles we call tropical rain forests. Who puts the chlorine in that water? Who distills that water? Who sterilizes that water? Who turns the UV sterilizer on and off? Every summer when the weather warms up I take my plants, orchids and all, outside so I can get a rest from watering in the greenhouse, and to the best of my knowledge, I've never seen a bacteria causing a problem in any of those pots. And as for the ice cubes so many want to talk about, to the best of my recollection, when it rains, everything outside gets pretty well soaked. I've been in a number of of pretty 'jungle y' looking places in my life, and have never, ever seen any little elves, or anyone else running around with buckets of ice cubes looking for orchid plants to "water".

    I've grown orchids in some pretty strange places, (can you top 3 months on a nuclear submarine?) and unless someone prevents them from getting water, or allows them to get too much water, or sunshine, they do pretty well growing wherever God puts them, or man chooses to grow them. I wouldn't worry too much about the water quality, unless it is salty, or alkaline. :-)

    Billsc

  • Bill M.
    last year

    Billsc - the jungle-y places I've been did have a lot of little people running around. Unfortunately, they weren't carrying ice cubes to water plants!

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    Original Author
    last year

    Bill, who brought up the ice cubes? lol I have heard about that.

    The reason why I ask about storing rain water is because I will fill about 6 barralls in the basement and have one full at all times outside.

    I have used only that water on my orchids and every one of them has developed some sort of root disease.

    I was told by two orchid growers that rain water can carry bacteria and virus that can cause all that. I re potted 35 of them all with poor roots systems and all black.

    They all blamed the rain water for it if left to sit for days untreated.

    That is why I came here. A bit confused.

    Maybe I will have to re examine some other sort of cultural issue now.

    Weird that the only orchids with all this rot is those watered with untreated rain water.

    I do know that fresh water rain is no problem and some here have explained almost using it right away or natural rain falling. NOT store rain water for weeks.

    Mike


  • Billsc
    last year

    Meyermike, I've known quite a number of folks living in the mountains that would tap a natural spring and pipe the water into a cement cistern. From the cistern they would run a pipe to the house to supply fresh water. They would cap the cistern with a heavy lid, and put a couple of salamanders (spring lizards) in the cistern to keep the water "clean". These cisterns were rarely opened, perhaps after a large rainstorm, or flood for cleaning. They would all tell you that the secret was the spring lizards. What I am saying is that perhaps you are picking up some kind of contamination from your storage containers. What was in your barrels before you started using them for water storage?

    with orchids, what you are describing sounds to me like a case of root rot, caused by the plants not drying out between watering. I would first look at the potting mix to see what is in it. If it is not drying out thoroughly, quickly, or you are perhaps watering before the plants have a chance to dry thoroughly, root rot can set in very quickly, and is very difficult to stop once it gets into a pot, or collection. You can't rule your water supply out completely, but I would certainly be looking at something else as your cause. Examine every aspect of your culture.

    Billsc

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    Original Author
    last year

    Bill makes sense.
    I was using 32 gallons brand new barrels and filling them after a rain storm then covering them. Using them for weeks all winter long. Then the one outside that is always catching rain water. They all sit stagnet but covered.
    Two orchids growers told me that I was killing then with bacteria from that water which made sense at the time because all these orchids ever got was rain water.
    I have been considering the mixed because some would dry out to fast and desiccate the roots or stuff like spaghnum would stay moist too long. Then there’s the fact some were left to the extremes in weather outside and in the small greenhouse.
    I pulled them all inside and set then into a more stable bright growing area.
    Changed all the mixes to tree fern which is making a huge difference and just the water was my worry.
    I pretty much have a better environment and better mix.
    A few orchid growers that even run their own places like Andy’s orchids in California told me that rain water can carry lots of viruses and bacteria which would do more harm than good.
    So hearing the experiences of others here and how they use rain water has help tremendously.
    Hopefully a few more will chime in and tell me how Rain water without being treated to kill bacteria if it is even is a concern had done for them
    Mike.

  • Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
    last year

    The orchids I've had in spaghnum all got rotted roots. I think your problem is the moss and has nothing to do with water, except the moisture in that moss, plus cold. That's a definite recipe for killing orchids. Wondering when to water an orchid, then having it dripping for a while after is not something I want to do. Moving them to water culture has saved mine. I don't have a lot but all are either blooming now or forming inflorescences, except a couple that were much more compromised by the time I realized how bad their condition was. They're still deciding whether to live or just finish dying. I've restricted the orchids to tap water because if I put caught rain in there, mosquito larvae will be in it. I change the water in the orchids, but not often enough to ensure that no new adult mosquitoes hatch.

    Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.) thanked Tiffany, purpleinopp Z8b Opp, AL
  • Bill M.
    last year

    I use nothing but rainwater on my plants. I have a 55-gallon barrel attached to a down spout. When it rains, all the pollen, bird poop, microbes, and debris is washed off the roof into my barrel. The plants seem to love it. The barrel is covered, so no mosquitos, and it has an overflow so it can't overfill. I have been using this procedure for years and my hoyas, orchids, aroids, dracaenas, sansevierias all thrive on it. Every two to three weeks, I'll mix up a gallon of dyna-grow plant food and feed everybody with a weak solution. I have never had any problems whatsoever. In the wilds, rainwater is all they receive, so if it's good enough then, it's good enough now!


    Pay more attention to the substrate (a few of my orchids are mounted on bark so over watering is impossible) and the light they receive, as well as how wet they remain. Orchid roots need to dry out between waterings, as do most plants. The type of water you use isn't an issue. Other factors however, need to be looked into. As I mentioned, light, moisture and temperature.


    Best of luck to you....

    Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.) thanked Bill M.
  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    Original Author
    last year
    last modified: last year

    When people say growing orchids is a piece of cake, that is a lie.

    One has many things that has to come into play for sure to build healthy plants.

    I am trying the tree fern fiber in every one of the rotted orchids I have and keeping them in a more stable environment with the temps and light. I am also growing them all into clear pots so I can keep an eye on the roots.

    My watering will be much better , no more guessing. NO more mixes drying out too fast and no more mixes holding water too long.

    So far they all seem very happy and putting on new roots, which I have hardly seen in the past.

    Now that I have more confidence in rain water I plan on still using it .

    I collected two full clean barrels of rain water today and stuck a cover over them in the basement.

    I also have a full clean barrel outside I will be using ti fill lots of empty gallon jugs.

    Thanks for the kinds words and the experiences.

    Mike

  • jane__ny
    last year

    Mike, Bill said it all. Rainwater is the best. That's all I've used for over 25 yrs. I have rain barrels (4) at my Florida house which get water from the gutters on the roof. They are closed so do not get full of leaves.

    Used the same Barrels when I grew in NY. In the winter months, I collected rain or snow in buckets on a deck off my house. I would bring them in, let them thaw and use that water.


    I did have a RO filter on my kitchen sink for drinking, cooking, but would use it, at times, on the orchids.


    Bacteria and virus are everywhere. Fungus is everywhere. These plants can handle most unless let get out of hand. Fungus and bacteria are a problem in Florida because of heat and humidity.


    Virus, I believe comes in on plants you buy. You could isolate but I've had virus show up years later. Those plants get tossed. You sound like you're figuring it out. Orchids are so different than 'dirt plants' because most are happier growing on trees getting lots of airflow around them.


    Since your plants are inside now, I would recommend buying some of those small fans to keep the air moving around the plants. Air is so important to keep bacteria and fungus setting up shop on your plants. Watch your watering. Remember, those roots would rather be growing outside. They like 'drip-dry.'


    Jane

  • JodiK
    last year

    Hey, Mike! Long time no see! :-) Hope all is well with you and yours!

    Here on the farm, I use our well water for everything, including my goats, laying poultry, my turkey sisters, in the house, etc... but we have pretty decent water drawn from a good aquifer. Our water isn't treated with anything, so no chemicals. It has natural minerals in it, like a bit of lime and whatnot... but it's good water, and many minerals are good for us.

    There is also a fairly good sized creek running through the property, but without knowing everything about its upstream source, I decline to use it for my indoor plants. Though, the native plantings near it seem unaffected in any way. Still...

    If you are concerned in any way, you could have the sources you use tested for excess anything, much like you'd test water for an aquarium.

    Knowing your concern with mediums used, I'd not think it anything related to that. What about temperature, or other considerations I may not have thought about?

    During the spring and summers when I move certain indoor plants out to my greenhouse for extra attention, they are submitted to some rains... though the majority of their water comes from a spigot in our basement.

    Personally, I won't drink tap water from a town or city that treats theirs. And for certain uses, like preserving fruit jellies, butters and jams, we do buy some distilled or bottled drinking water.

    I would say... if you aren't sure, test your sources of water... even if for your own peace of mind.

    Some studies and reports might indicate that rain water isn't as pure as we may think it is.

    Ideally, I'd love to obtain water from a natural spring or an artesian well. Unfortunately, those aren't a part of our farm, though we do adhere to organic practices, otherwise.

    Would love to hear from you when you have some time to talk! I believe you have our number... but if not, hit me up on fb messenger.

    Happy Gardening! :-)


    Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.) thanked JodiK
  • HU-511702538
    last year

    In some parts of the country, particulary where coal is burned, the natural rain water is highly acidic. This acidity (aka acid rain) has been known to negatively impact natural vegetation.


    Acid Rain

    Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.) thanked HU-511702538
  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    Original Author
    last year

    WEll it just occured to me that at this time of the year the water is so cold that I have nothing to worry aboutr in reagrds to bugs, bacteria and the like. The water that falls is crystal clear and it rains every other day filling my outside barrel. At time there is a thin layer of ice on top but that is it. I am filling gallons upon gallons of rain water)

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    Original Author
    last year

    Jodik, thank you for all that info. Wow. I really appreciated it. You are right, I don't think it's the water or what is in it that is the issue, but the way I use it. I will be more watchful with each media and keep a careful eye on what the roots are doing)

  • Meyermike(Zone 6a Ma.)
    Original Author
    last year

    James, I have phys an and I will use it as it warms up and the chances of bacteria increase. Good idea. How much would you put into a thirty gallon bucket?

    I know you know what you are doing because most if not all of your orchids always seem flawless.

    By the way, the one you sent me is doing great. I keep it outside like you do and boy does it grow. I got one flower this summer. I hope it is loaded with more next.

    When does your flower? In Spring or Summer?

    Thnk you.

  • Bill M.
    last year

    Mike, for the ice in the barrel, I've filled a couple of water bottles 1/2 full with weather so they float with half above the water line and half below. When the ice forms, it will expand and smoosh the floating bottles but not harm the 55 gallon drum. It's worked for several years now. If

  • JodiK
    last year

    Water temperature is something I didn't even think about, though filling empty gallons and bringing them indoors to come to room temp might be prudent! :-)

  • James _J
    last year

    Mike- You don’t need much, I use 2 tablespoons in a 55 gal drum.


    Was that the nobile type dendrobium? It usually flowers twice a year for me, its in bud now but has a better display in early summer.

    This is one that I took a hammer to the pot and dropped the whole thing into a bigger pot. I dont plan on ever re potting it again. Glad to hear ylurs is doing well.


    JodiK- I keep my water in the boiler room so its warmed up a little bit. I guess the cold helps but I think its beacuse there is less organic material to start with

  • JodiK
    last year

    I usually fill a couple gallon jugs and bring them upstairs to come to room temperature. I have mostly tender bulbs in pots, plus a few extras like Ledebouria, Hoya, Sansevieria and Chalice Vine that I grow indoors, although my growing environment is a bit dry and chilly over the winter months. I garden in zone 5b, Central Midwest, US.

    I adjust my Gritty Mix via ingredients and ratios, depending on various factors. It depends on what I have available, how much moisture retention I need, pot size and where it will be placed, etc.

    My plants suffer a bit during the colder months, but at least I have a small greenhouse they can recover in over the warmer months.

    We do collect some rainwater, but we use most of it for the duck pool and to water poultry. I'd like to set up for more rain collection. Another project for my list!