Is A Bathroom A Good Place To Keep An Orchid?
In so many home décor magazines you’ll see a beautiful blossoming orchid in the bathroom. Of course, there is humidity in there due to showering and the sink, but can you actually cultivate an orchid in the bathroom and be successful?
Orchids can grow in bathrooms, but you’ll need to constantly check three variants: humidity levels, the proper amount of filtered lighting, and toxic gases that can come from products like hairspray, hair dye, fingernail polish remover, and other chemical substances. The toxins can kill your orchid faster than the lack of sunlight will. Let’s look at each of these three separately..
Image Credit: "File:Paphiopedilum A. Dimmock 9zz.jpg"
by Photo by David J. Stang is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0
Propper Humidity for Cultivating Orchids in the Bathroom
Most orchids like to be in a more humid environment than what we provide at home. This is why it’s necessary to provide a humidifier and keep the air humid. Anywhere from 40 to 80% of relative humidity (rH) is ideal depending on the orchid.
Phalaenopsis will do well around the 40 to 55% rH. In general, our living rooms are around 30%, and offices with air conditioner and central heating units that run all day long are around 27%. Summarizing: your orchid will want a more humid environment.
The bathroom is the first place that comes to mind when we think of humidity. With condensation dripping down the walls after a hot shower, it should be the perfect place to keep an orchid. Well… not so fast. How long does that humidity stay on the walls and in the air? After I’m done with a shower, the bathroom goes back to the normal dryness in less than 20 minutes.
So your orchid will raise to 100% for half an hour a day, then live in 27% for the rest of the 23 hours. This isn’t quite what the orchid had in mind when it thought of a humid environment.
If you still want to try the bathroom, why not check out some recommended humidifiers? In this article, I researched hundreds of humidifiers
and analyzed each of their pros and cons. Then I made a list of the 5 best that I found, and which one I bought for my home office orchids.
Proper lighting is Essential for any Orchid
The next variant is lighting. Orchids need around 14 to 16 hours of natural light a day. It’s important to provide light according to the light preferences of each orchid since they are divided into groups of low light, medium light and high light orchids.
If your bathroom is designed with huge windows, that allow filtered sunlight in, but not direct sun, then you might want to check out another window. Does the window get full sun? If yes, then your orchid leaves will sunburn, and huge black spots will cover the leaves.
Another item to remember: you can use artificial lights (check out this article about lighting
) but will you want to keep the lights on all day in your bathroom? As far as I know, every time you leave the bathroom, it’s only natural to turn off the lights. Your orchid can’t live in the dark, and the lights will need to be during the day for them to get enough light.
But what happens during those nightly visits to the bathroom? You’ll turn on the lights and the light/dark cycle of the orchid is thrown off. The moon doesn’t have a full spotlight that turns on and off during the night. To cultivate orchids, you’ll have to recreate their natural environment: and that means no light for a few hours straight.
Toxic gases That Survive in The Bathroom
I have to chuckle at this point, but no… That isn’t what I mean when I’m referring to toxic gases. Many products that we use in our daily routines, like hairspray, fingernail polish remover, hair dye with tons of ammonia, and other products do have a strong smell to them. The smell isn’t exactly the problem: the chemicals in them are.
Even after you paint a room, it’s advised not to keep an orchid in the same environment since the fumes will cause bud blast. Bud blast is when the orchid drops its buds that were developing so nicely, and they just die. This can happen because of sudden drops of temperatures too.
To make sure the orchid will breathe (the orchid has stomata, which are small pores on the underside of the leaves that allow proper gas trade) you’ll need to take it out of the bathroom and place it in a place with a good current.
If you have a fan in your bathroom, you’ll be better off. I’m not talking about an exhaust, but a fan. The moisture is good, but your orchid needs a constant flow of air to survive. So even if you don’t use toxic chemicals in your make-up routine or strong perfume, you’ll still need a fan.
What Orchids will thrive in the bathroom?
Now that all is said and done, if you still want to try, pick low light orchids for your bathroom. There is a list of suggestions for low light orchids here, in this post.
The most common low light orchids are Phalaenopsis, Paphiopedilums, and Miltonias.
These three will do well in your bathroom, provided that you have properly found a way to maintain the humidity levels high, properly illuminate your orchid with either filtered sunlight or grow lights, and have air circulation that will prevent mold and root rot in your orchid. If you want more suggestions, that same article above has 33 orchids that will do well in low light.
I personally can’t say I’ve been successful with bathroom orchids, so I’m a little hesitant to recommend any of these to you. Yet, I’ve seen it done (and I have to work on my envy levels when I see gorgeous pictures of flourishing bathroom orchids… LOL) Maybe my thumb isn’t green enough. Is this where I should add those proceed at your own risk notification? I think it’s worth the shot, but don’t expect a lot.
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Since orchids aren’t the best candidates for bathrooms, how about other plants?
If you’re really into keeping plants in your bathroom, you might want to add a few more that also love humidity and can do well in low light conditions. Ferns, peperomia, snake plant, china doll plant, spider plants, heart leaf philodendron, aloe vera, air plants, and the golden pothos. If you want to add them in the shower, try tillandsias and bromeliads. Don’t give up on the idea just because orchids won’t do well.