All you need to help your orchid plant thrive is an old potato – an ingenious hack or a myth?

Can you use an old potato to help your orchid plant thrive? Experts reveal whether it’s an ingenious hack or a simply a myth

A white orchid plant on a bathroom window sill
(Image credit: Future PLC)

We heard through the grapevine of the internet that there is a new and rather odd-sounding plant hack on the block. The hack in question? Using a boiled old potato to help an orchid plant thrive.

So if you have an old potato that you’re not going to be needing then this trick claims you can turn it into a natural plant fertiliser for your orchid. Technically, this method doesn’t necessarily require the potato to be an old one. So even if you’re just boiling some potatoes for your dinner, then you can use the remaining water to give your plant a boost. 

Because it’s this miraculous, nutrient-rich juice that apparently does wonders for your orchid, according to plant experts. So here’s how to use old (or new) potatoes to keep your orchid blooming and how it works.

A pink orchid plant on a bathroom window sill with a basket of towels next to it

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Potato fertiliser hack for orchids

We bet that you didn’t think boiling potatoes is a part of how to take care of an orchid. To be fair, neither did we. This natural plant care hack has taken us by surprise, too.

‘Potatoes provide potassium and phosphorus, which are both essential to orchid flowering and growth,’ starts Petar Ivanov, Fantastic Gardeners' plant and gardening expert.

Fiona Jenkins, garden expert at, the UK’s leading trades matching site, adds, ‘Boiled potatoes are commonly used as a cost effective, homemade fertiliser for orchids. Other kitchen ingredients including eggshells and molasses are also utilised by experienced orchid growers.’

A white orchid plant on a bathroom window sill

(Image credit: Future PLC/Lizzie Orme)

But Steve Chilton, garden expert at LeisureBench, warns that it’s not exactly a conventional method how to water orchids and help them grow. ‘It has been said that boiled potatoes can be used as a natural fertiliser for orchids, although this isn't necessarily seen as a "conventional" method, so if following this advice I always recommend keeping an eye on your orchids to notice any negative changes, and adjust as needed to ensure they stay healthy.’

But if you do decide to give this hack a go, this is what you need to do.

Steve Chilton portrait
Steve Chilton

Steve is a passionate and knowledgeable garden expert with several years of experience within the field. As the director of LeisureBench, an industry-leading garden furniture company, Steve has developed strong expertise for all things nature and plants. 

White orchid in front of window beside buddha statue

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

How to fertilise orchids with potatoes

‘Boil your potatoes with the skin on, as this is where the majority of the nutrients can be found,’ Fiona explains. ‘You can grate or chop the potatoes first, to help release more of these nutrients during the cooking process. Drain the water into a jug or jar and let it cool. It’s this water that you use to fertilise your orchid.’

A white orchid plant

(Image credit: Future PLC/Jeremy Phillips)

Steve adds, ‘It's important to let the water completely cool down after boiling, then add to the orchids as you would with normal water. I would recommend diluting the starchy water with normal water as this will ensure that there's not too high of a concentration of nutrients, which could actually damage the orchids instead of benefit them.’

The world of plants never ceases to amaze us. Boiled potatoes for orchids – who would have thought?!

Content Editor

Sara Hesikova has been a Content Editor at Ideal Home since June 2024, starting at the title as a News Writer in July 2023. Sara brings the Ideal Home’s readership features and news stories from the world of homes and interiors, as well as trend-led pieces, shopping round-ups and more, focusing on all things room decor, specialising in living rooms, bedrooms, hallways, home offices and dining rooms. Graduating from London College of Fashion with a bachelor’s degree in fashion journalism in 2016, she got her start in niche fashion and lifestyle magazines like Glass and Alvar as a writer and editor before making the leap into interiors, working with the likes of 91 Magazine and copywriting for luxury bed linen brand Yves Delorme among others. She feels that fashion and interiors are intrinsically connected – if someone puts an effort into what they wear, they most likely also care about what they surround themselves with.