HOW TO REPOT AN ORCHID

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Orchids won’t need to be potted on very often even though they may look as though they do. What does this mean? Well, orchids grow two main and distinctly different types of root - aerial and subterranean - and unfortunately (especially for the tidy minded) it is in their nature to send these roots everywhere looking for nourishment and more points to anchor themselves to.

This can of course look untidy and you can be forgiven for thinking that the plant is doing this because they have exhausted the nutritional supply within the pot. However, don't forget that when orchids are grown indoors they rely on the owner for adequate feeds with a soluble fertilizer and if the orchid is being fed correctly then there is no need to re-pot.

With that in mind do not make the mistake of trying to bury aerial roots back within the confines of the pot because even if they don’t break in the process they will eventually suffocate and rot.

That being said there are times when you really will need to re-pot your orchid.


1. Orchids can outgrow their pots and this point is reached when there is room left within the pot for the next season’s growth.
2. Orchids will need to be re-potted in a fresh batch of appropriate sterilised compost if the existing potting medium is beginning to decompose.
3. Remove and repot the orchid if it is showing any sign of root rots.
4. Repot orchids if there are visible signs of salt residue on the growing medium

The best time to repot orchids is after they have finished flowering and have begun to produce new root growth. If you can, always try to avoid potting on orchids while they are in flower.

Gently squeeze the sides of the pot then tip the pot on its side and carefully remove the plant from the pot. Keep an eye on the base of the pot as you may have roots that have grown through the drainage holes. If this has happened then try to thread the roots back through the holes without damaging them. You may need to consider cutting the pot away from the rots in severe cases.

Once the orchid has been released from it pot, try to remove all trace of the old potting medium. Look over the root system and with a pair or sterilised scissors trim off all roots that are black, dark brown, or mushy.

Scissors can be sterilised by either dipping them in methylated spirits or by passing the blades through a flame. All healthy roots will be turgid to the touch and white or light tan-brown in colour.

Remove any old, shrivelled or dormant growth that you can find - such as "back bulbs”. These are older, pseudobulbs that have lost their leaves but are still alive. Once removed, these back bulbs can be either thrown away or potted on themselves. Dust all areas that have been cut with sulphur.

When it comes repotting, choose a compost mix which has been specifically formulated for orchids, and allow it to soak overnight in water before you use it. With regards to pot choice tries to keep to clear pots and use a new one where possible. At the very least sterilise the old one with boiling water to kill off any pathogens before hand – don't forget to let it cool down first!

When ready, hold the plant inside the new pot keeping the base of the plant roughly where it should eventually rest, i.e. in line with the top of the compost. Now begin to drop compost around the roots, tapping the pot firmly as you do so – this will help to shake the compost down amongst the roots. When the compost is almost level with the leaves then you have finished although there may well be some gaps which you can see through the side of the clear plant pot, don't worry as the odd air chamber is beneficial to the plant roots.

For related articles click onto the following links:
HOW TO FEED ORCHIDS
HOW TO REPOT AN ORCHID
HOW TO WATER ORCHIDS
MONKEY FACE ORCHIDS
Naked Man Orchid - Orchis italica
SCHOMBURGKIA EXALTATA
THE ANGEL ORCHID
THE ANGEL ORCHID
THE BEE ORCHIDS
THE BUTTERFLY ORCHID - Psychopsis papilio
THE FLYING DUCK ORCHID
THE ORCHID MANTIS
WHAT IS AN ORCHID?

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