Updated October 23, 2019
I went out of town for five days this past week to visit my sister and nieces in Austin, so I had to abandon my orchids for the first time in awhile. Because I’ve gotten used to checking on them daily, leaving them made me a little nervous. I wanted to make sure my orchids didn’t dry out too badly; a bunch of them have aerial roots that I mist about once a day. What many orchid growers recommend if your home is on the dry side are humidity trays [paid link]. A humidity tray is a shallow dish lined with stones or pebbles and filled with water almost to the top of the stones; the plant sits ON TOP OF the stones and reaps the benefit of the water as it evaporates. You just have to make sure that the plant is not sitting IN the water – something that can lead to root rot. More details on humidity trays can be found here.
I thought about ordering a tray or two online, but research revealed that I would need to spend at least $20 for one tray (including S&H; at the time of this writing many years ago). Instead, I cobbled together my own makeshift humidity trays to help keep the humidity level up while I was gone. I ended making trays in three different ways (without having to spend much $) and I think they’re pretty clever. Voila! Homemade humidity trays:
It may be hard to tell from the photo, but the dip container is one of those that is raised in the center, so it was perfect for my little tolumnia. I poured water into the container so that only the outer edge was wet – kind of like a tiny moat – and placed the pot on the raised bit in the middle so that it didn’t sit in the water.
How much did all of this cost me? Well, I already had the ice cube trays so those cost zilch. I bought the marbles at my local pet store for $6 (two bags at $3 apiece, found in the fish tank section) and the spinach artichoke dip (which, BTW was quite tasty) had cost me $4. Total cost for four humidity trays: $10. Show me ONE humidity tray that you can buy online for that price!
I did some rearranging of my orchid setup before I left town which ended up being a mistake for my NOID dendrobium from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. When I left, the den had two new growths that were both doing well; when I returned, one of the growths had turned black and fallen over. I trimmed the rotten growth away and moved the plant from the bedroom back into the kitchen. Hopefully it will continue to be ok in there – it was doing well before I moved it. If it ain’t broke…
Luckily my other orchids seem to be doing well. I’m going to keep using the humidity trays and see how it goes.