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How to repot an orchid


Flori-Culture: Orchid & Specialty Growing Supplies

 Orchid Repotting Instructions  

The main two reasons to repot an orchid are:

When the plant has outgrown, or grown over the side of its current pot, and/or when the mix has broken down from wood chips that drain quickly and freely, to a soil-like, composted mush that holds too much water, (which will suffocate and rot the roots).

Let’s Get Started!

  1. Choose a new pot that will allow room for at least 2 to 3 years of growth. If growing a monopodial orchid (i.e. one that grows taller, but not to the side (such as a Phalaenopsis or Vanda), then your pot size selection is about having enough room for the roots. For sympodial orchids (types that grow across the pot with new growths coming off a creeping rhizome like Cattleyas, Dendrobiums, Bulbophyllums), you’ll want to put the plant against one side of the pot with the newest growth facing the center, so it will grow across the pot (rather than centering it as we tend to do). This will keep the first new growth from already be crowded against the side, while half the pot stays empty.                                                                                                                                                                                          
  2. Whenever possible, orchids should only be repotted when there is active root growth….. Water the orchid thoroughly, as this will make the roots more pliable, and also to help reduce the chance of the plant being shocked by the process. After removing the orchid from its old pot, remove any old, unhealthy, roots and as much of the old potting media as you can without damaging the roots too much. Trim off any mushy or papery dead roots. Leave only firm, fleshy, healthy roots. Trim off any old, unhealthy, back bulbs or leaves using sterile tools (been held in a torch flame or dipped in a mild bleach solution or rubbing alcohol). Healthy back-bulbs can be potted up, and often will grow into another plant if you are patient.

This is a good time to inspect for pests and disease. Carefully remove any old sheathing from around the base of pseudo   bulbs being careful not to break off any new growth. Look for any insects hiding there, it’s an especially common place to find scale and mealy bugs as well as those nasty little, tiny snails. Remove any pests you find with a soft bristled toothbrush dipped in rubbing alcohol and/or a strong spray of water.   

  1. Place a small handful of your favorite (hopefully Calwest’s!) orchid mix or moss into the bottom of the pot, place the roots into the pot and hold the plant in position a little bit deeper than it was previously potted. Fill in all around it with more of your potting mix and pull the orchid up to the level it was planted before while pressing the mix around the roots down firmly but not enough to break anything. You should end up with a plant that is snuggly potted and ready to grow. If it is too top heavy to stay in its pot until new roots have grown then use a rhizome clip or a metal or bamboo support stake to hold the plant in place.
  2. Make a fresh name label for the orchid. Use a vinyl tag (will not quickly fade or get brittle from the sun), and copy the info from the old tag as clearly and completely as you can. If it is hard to read or incomplete, then type what you can read into Google, and you will most likely be able to get the missing information. Don’t forget to include the date on the back of the tag, so you know when you repotted the plant last.
  3. After researching your plant, you will be aware of its needs based on its own natural habitat. An orchid from a year round, wet, deep, dark, rainforest may want to be hot and wet all the time. Others, may live where it is very hot and wet for part of the year and then dry for rest of the year, and care must be adjusted accordingly, so as not to over water during the dry time.

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