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Humidity

            Humidity is fairly important to long term orchid health. We try to maintain humidity above fifty percent. This can be achieved by grouping plants close together and putting them on humidity trays.
            Of course, you'll need a hygrometer to tell you what your humidity is... The unit shown below is both a hygrometer and a thermometer that tells the current, minimum, and maximum temperature in two locations (at the base unit and at a remote sensor).

            Humidity trays can be made from about anything that will hold water. The trick is to support the orchids above the water and not let them sit in it. Simple rectangular humidity trays can be made from ordinary 1020 (ten by twenty inches) seedling flats used to start vegetable and herb seeds. We recommend doubling or tripling them up especially if they are not the more sturdy kinds. Light diffusing "egg crate" (see below), found in four by two foot sheets in the lighting or ceiling tile section of your favorite hardware store, can then be cut with sturdy snips to fit just inside or on top of the nested seedling flats. We use plastic cups cut to size with holes in the bottoms under the light diffuser in the center of the trays to prevent them from sagging and breaking.

            Egg crate light diffuser...



            Some suggest using pebbles in the tray instead of light diffuser to support the plants above the water. We have tried this and found that trays with pebbles will naturally hold less water, they are difficult to drain, they will be quite heavy, and bugs seem to like to hide down between the rocks. On the other hand, pebbles are inexpensive and they will provide slightly more humidity as they increase the surface area of the water allowing additional evaporation.

            If you will be watering your plants over the tray, maybe the light diffuser version would work better. If you water your plants in the sink or tub, pebbles will work fine. In either case, add a small amount of chlorine bleach or quaternary ammonium salts (Physan 20, RD-20) disinfectant to the humidity tray water on a regular basis to cut down on pathogens, pests, algae, and odors that may linger there.

            Cat litter pans, under-cage trays (from small animal cages), shallow storage containers, etc. can easily be made into inexpensive humidity trays.

            Humidifiers, obviously, can also be used. Warm mist humidifiers are quiet to run and are usually filterless; whereas cool mist humidifiers can use filters that require periodic replacement and they are powered by sometimes noisy electric fans. Warm mist humidifiers may be useful in helping achieve nighttime temperature drops by simply turning them off in the evening. Most humidifiers available can be filled with tap water, but we highly recommend using some sort of purified water- distilled, deionized, reverse osmosis water. This will extend the life of the humidifier and any filters used, and make it easier to keep the unit clean. Note that spring water is not purified water. It may contain more dissolved solids than your tap water.

            If you have difficulty maintaining humidity in your growing area, consider potting in plastic pots instead of clay. Potting Phalaenopsis in high quality sphagnum moss such as New Zealand or Chilean types will also help as it dries slower and more evenly than bark mixes.

            Misting will also help increase humidity for a short time. It is useful for young seedlings or freshly potted plants, but not for humidifying an entire room or greenhouse unless it is done several times during the day. Water should not sit on the leaves or in crowns overnight,and misting should not be so excessive as to cause constantly wet medium.

            Evaporative coolers, discussed more in the section on temperature, will also increase the humidity of the growing area.

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