Aquatic Phalaenopsis

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John M

Orchid Addict
Jun 7, 2006
Reaction score
Hamilton, Ontario - Canada
This is my Phalaenopsis bellina ('Ingrid Ohh' x 'Joy'). It was a gift from Wendy about a year ago. Earlier this year, on April 2nd, I unpotted the plant, washed off the roots and "planted" it at the mouth of this 2 litre jar, which is filled with rain water. It hangs on the side of my kitchen cupboard, right next to the sink, where I see it and enjoy it, umpteen times a day. It continued to grow roots in the water as well as that nice, new, large leaf. Since April, the roots have added about 3 to 4 inches to their length; plus, it's added two more new roots, both of which have grown down into the water.

The plant had produced it's first 2 single blooms, one at a time, prior to being switched over to the water culture. After becoming aquatic, it has produced single flowers, 3 more times, opening it's latest (flower #5), just today.

Once I could see that the plant was happy and would ramain so, I bought a young Betta and installed him (Larry) and a small, feathery water plant on June 25. I feed Larry 3 granules of fish food 3 or 4 times daily, from the tip of my finger. Larry comes when he's called! Of course, the water plant and the Phal use his waste as their food. I do not fertilize the plants, ever. That would kill Larry.

Once a day, I use a small plastic air-hose to siphon out Larry's solid waste which collects at the bottom. This process also removes about 1/4 to 1/3 of the water, which is replaced with fresh rain water that is stored in the kitchen so as to be at the same room temperature. This reduces the risk of any temperature-shock stress being caused to the Phal, or to Larry.

The Phal bellina has grown foliage, roots and flowers continuously since becoming aquatic in April. The feathery water plant has grown, too....needing to be trimmed once already. Larry is about double the size he was when I bought him. So, all in all, I seem to have gotten things fairly well balanced and stable. I'm really enjoying this set-up. It's so easy to care for, being handy, right next to the kitchen sink. I can't wait to see how big the Phal will get and how many flowers I can get it to produce at the same time on multiple spikes.

Stay tuned.........


The flower below is fresh opened today. It has a bit better form than the previous one in the photo at the top. If the flower keeps on improving at this rate, it should be really incredible in a few months.

I should add that once I saw how well the bellina was doing, I tried it with a Phal. philippinensis. That one didn't work. The roots all rotted and that turned the water putrid. 'Had to repot that plant into a more "normal" potting mix and get it to regrow some new roots!

Also, to hang up the jar, I wrapped a 16 guage piece of florist wire around the neck of the jar and formed a small loop on the other end. The loop is hooked onto a nail on the side of the cupboard. The dark charcoal paper is behind the flower to make the bud face away from the wall as it develops. Flowers don't face towards the light, they face away from the dark. So, putting something dark where you do NOT want the flowers to face, makes them face the other way.
That’s a nice bellina! I have seen on the net, people growing their orchids in full water culture, and it looks like it is working for you very well :) I like that it stands in the kitchen and you can enjoy it every day. Oh and Larry is gorgeous too!
Okay, I'm impressed. I might have to give this a try. :) Thanks for sharing!

I might have to try a Ludisia in the same manner as well, Markhamite. ;)
Interesting. It will be fun to see how this method continues.

I used to grow a Ludisia in water. It did fine, until it rotted.
I just went back to take another look at your pictures. Nice Betta! Does the water not get too hot or too cool for it?

Although certainly not cold water fish like Goldfish, Bettas don't need the warm water that most tropical fish do. Room temperature is fine. However, the kitchen sink has a rather draughty window behind it. So, I did not mount the jar really close, where I originally wanted to put it. I mounted it further back away from the window to avoid variations in temperature. Also, the jar is up at eye level, not low down at counter level. This way, the cold air flowing down the window does not chill the jar at the bottom. Also, the kitchen window faces N.W. and is heavily shaded by large Maple trees outside and when they're not in leaf the winter sun barely manages to reach the window because it sets before it gets that far around the house. So, bottom line, there is no concern in winter or summer about strong sunlight, or temperature fluctuations.
I've seen this with Spathilatum-peace lilies. They call it a "war and peace" fish/plant vase. I may have to buy a phal bellina to try this; love the dumbo and dragon scale bettas.

Since phrags don't mind being in water, has anyone seen this done with phrags?
Thanks again, everybody!

I've seen this with Spathilatum-peace lilies. They call it a "war and peace" fish/plant vase. I may have to buy a phal bellina to try this; love the dumbo and dragon scale bettas.

Since phrags don't mind being in water, has anyone seen this done with phrags?

I have grown a Vanda in a jar with about an inch of water in the bottom. It did very well for years. Eventually, I got bored with it and put it back into a clay pot. I also grew a Phal hybrid years ago in a jar full of water; but, I added a fish tank air bubbler to keep the water moving and well oxygenated. I didn't do that this time and it still worked very well.

I havn't tried doing this with anything else; but, I'd think that a Phrag might be a good bet.
very interesting.
I assume the daily water changes are a significant part of the success.

Actually, I think what's more responsible is that I have used only rain water. As time passes, I've become more and more impressed with rain water as the very best solution to a whole host of cultural problems and mainly responsible for many successes.

Also, for the first 3 months, I only refreshed the water once a week. Only after I saw that the plant was thriving did I add the fish, requiring the daily maintenance siphoning out of the solid fish waste from the bottom of the jar. I think as long as the water does not go "off" and the organics disolved in it do not begin to putrify, conditions will remain healthy for the plant.
fingers crossed

Well, always with any plant. Without regular maintenance, this set-up would certainly fail; but, the same can be said for any plant in any substrate. After 5 months and the addition of new roots and old roots adding at least a few more inches of length; plus the growing of the new leaf and the regular flowering, I'm pretty much convinced that this is going to work least for this particular plant.

Here's a better photo of Larry.

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