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Watering orchids with garlic water? That’s why garlic is good for these very special houseplants!

Due to its high sulfur content, garlic offers a whole list of benefits for home and garden . When you water your orchid with garlic water, you promote chlorophyll formation, protein synthesis and the formation of 21 amino acids. Garlic also acts as a natural fungicide and deterrent against spider mites, thrips and aphids. But in heavy concentrations, garlic water will hinder the growth of your orchid, so use it sparingly. What else you should know about using garlic for your orchids, we explain below.

How to use garlic in orchid care

Garlic as a natural pest control agent

garlic for orchids against spider mites

Garlic is recognized as a natural deterrent against small pests and insects. If you have noticed an infestation of aphids or spider mites in your orchid pot, garlic water is a great way to contain the infestation. It will not kill the pests, so another method is needed to control the mites, but garlic water can keep them away once they are gone.

Garlic as a natural fungicide to protect your orchid.

garlic water helps against black spots on orchid leaves

It’s pretty hard to kill a fungus because it likes to feed on bacteria. So where one is present, the other will soon join it. In a study (Source 1) published in August 2016, garlic was shown to inhibit the multiplication of spores, preventing the spread of fungus. This qualifies garlic water as a fungicide. For this reason, it would be beneficial for the orchid if the planting substrate is soaked in a solution of garlic water or at least the top of the substrate is sprayed.

Garlic water promotes the formation of chlorophyl

why is garlic good for orchids

You may now be wondering why garlic is good for orchids. The smell and taste of garlic are due to the extremely high sulfur content in the cells of garlic. In addition to sulfur, garlic also contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), calcium (Ca), and manganese (Mn). All these substances are essential for the growth of orchids.

Sulfur works in combination with so many other elements that it is a building block for most of the essential chemical reactions necessary for the health of your orchid. Sulfur helps develop and activate certain enzymes and vitamins and is a structural component of two of the 21 amino acids that make up proteins. Along with the help of nitrogen, sulfur builds protein chains and aids in the formation of chlorophyll.

What is garlic water good for orchids

In another study, the effects of root growth were positively influenced by the use of garlic water. The roots – although it was a tomato plant and not an orchid – showed visible signs of better growth. The not-so-visible signs were analyzed and proved that the garlic water promoted “cell division, phytohormones and expansin gene expression levels.” (Source 2)

Too much garlic can harm orchids

fertilize orchids with garlic

Because garlic contains an overwhelming amount of sulfur, this element may want to compete with others in your orchid’s cells. This competition, the way one plant alters the effect of other plants near it, is called allelopathy. In a sense, the two plants work together to create stronger cells that are more resistant to pests and diseases. They work together and support each other. In other cases, two plants fight together for their place under the sun and kill each other.

can you plant 2 orchids together

That’s why it’s important to know what you’re doing when you plant two orchids in the same pot. They can fight over each other’s nutrients, and usually the orchid with the strongest roots (in terms of size and thickness) wins, leaving the smaller orchid in the lurch.

How does this information translate to orchid care? It is okay to spray your orchid with garlic water and even soak the pot in it, but you are not supposed to use this method all the time.

Simple recipe for garlic water (as a pesticide and fungicide).

watering orchids with garlic water

Using a diluted form of this garlic water, rather than a concentrated one, is the best way to protect your orchid from too much sulfur. How do you make garlic water? Here is the easiest recipe in the world:


  • 4 cloves of garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of oil (like sunflower oil)
  • Dishwashing liquid
  • and water

*This recipe is about making a solution that not only deters, but also kills small aphids and spider mites. The dishwashing liquid in the ingredient list is crucial for this.

make garlic water for orchids yourself

  1. Lightly crush 4 cloves of garlic and place them in a jar with 1 tablespoon of mineral oil. The garlic must be crushed so much that the oil comes into contact with it optimally. Leave the whole thing for 1-2 days, so that the sulfur has enough time to pass into the oil.
  2. Then remove the garlic pieces from the oil.
  3. Add a teaspoon to a tablespoon of dishwashing liquid to the oil, depending on how severe your infestation is. If you are only using this as a preventative measure, use the teaspoon. Just don’t use too much.
  4. Add half a liter of water to the oil and put it in a spray bottle. If the leaves of your orchid begin to yellow the next day, dilute this amount by half.

spraying orchids with garlic water

Each orchid is sensitive to the solution, and there is no one-size-fits-all recipe. You will need to adjust the solution to your needs and dilute it or concentrate it more depending on how your orchid tolerates it. It is recommended to use garlic water only as a pesticide and fungicide, and not as a normal fertilizer additive. Even though it is not harmful, adding garlic in higher concentrations could severely affect the growth of your orchids.

Sources used:
1st Front. Plant Sci. 2016 ; Garlic, from Remedy to Stimulant : Evaluation of Antifungal Potential Reveals Diversity in Phytoalexin Allicin Content among Garlic Cultivars.
2 Front Plant Sci. 2016 ; The Garlic Allelochemical Diallyl Disulfide Affects Tomato Root Growth by Influencing Cell Division, Phytohormone Balance and Expansin Gene Expression.