When to repot orchid?

Orchid Repotting: When And How To Repot An Orchid Plant

Orchids were once the domain of specialty hobbyists with greenhouses, but they’re becoming more common in the average gardener’s home. They’re relatively easy to grow as long as you find the right conditions, but almost every grower gets nervous at the thought of repotting an orchid.

Orchids don’t grow like other houseplants; instead of putting out roots in a pot of soil, they exist in a container of loose materials such as bark, charcoal and moss. This can be the most finicky time for an orchid plant because they are susceptible to disease and you’ll be exposing the roots, but with a little care, you can be repotting orchid plants with great results.

Repotting Orchid Plants

When to repot orchids is important in order to ensure success. There are two major ways to tell if your orchid needs repotting. First, if it’s growing out of its container, you may see white roots popping out between the spaces in the container. This is a sure sign that your plant has outgrown its home.

The other reason for orchid repotting is when the potting medium begins to break down. Orchids grow in a very chunky medium, and when it breaks down into smaller bits, it won’t drain as well. Change out the medium to give your orchid’s roots the air they need.

The other half of knowing when to repot orchids is choosing the time of year that’s best for the plant. If you have a cattelya or other orchid that produces pseudobulbs, repot it right after flowering and before the roots begin to grow.

For all other orchids, you can repot them at any time, although disturbing the plant when it’s in flower is usually not a good idea.

How to Repot an Orchid

Choose a new pot that’s an inch or two larger than the one before. Specialized orchid planters have holes all around the surface to increase the air circulation in the roots, but you can use a traditional terra cotta pot as well.

Put your orchid potting mix into a large bowl and cover it with boiling water. Allow the water to cool to room temperature, then drain the potting mix.

One of the most important things to learn about how to repot an orchid is that they are very sensitive when it comes to bacteria and germs. Make a solution of ½ cup of household bleach and 1 gallon of water. Soak the planter in this, as well as any tools you use. Wash your hands before you proceed.

Gently pull the pot away from the plant and wash off the roots. Use sharp scissors to cut off any brown or rotting roots. Fill the new planter with the soaked potting medium and place the plant so that the base is right at the top of the medium. Use a chopstick to help push bits of planting medium in between the roots. Keep the orchid misted for at least a week until the new roots begin to appear.

Repotting an orchid doesn’t have to be intimidating. Just pay attention to the timing and ensure proper growing conditions so your beloved plant will thrive.

In the wild, rather than sinking their roots into the soil, most orchids normally grow in trees, perched high above the rainforest floor. You can replicate that environment with a special orchid bark mix (a blend of ground fir-tree bark) that’s sold at garden centres. It provides the quick drainage and plentiful pockets for air that orchid roots require. Mostly, though, it helps anchor plants in pots so they can grow. For best results, mix peat moss into fir bark or orchid bark mix (use 2 parts bark to 1 part peat moss), and you’re ready to plant.

There are special pots on the market created just for orchids. They’re full of holes to expose the roots to more air. However, no special pot is needed; a terra-cotta or plastic pot grows great orchids. Choose a pot that’s 1 inch (at the most 2 inches) larger than your present pot. The time to transplant orchids is after they bloom, when new roots have appeared but haven’t grown longer than 1/2 inch, or when the roots start to crawl out of the pot. Be sure to water your orchid before you repot it. Then follow this step-by-step guide to repotting, and you’ll have your orchid happily settled into its new quarters in no time.

Soak the pot containing the orchid in water for several hours, then gently pull out the orchid. Carefully loosen the roots, then remove the growing medium from the root ball. Replant your orchid in a pot that’s only about 1 or 2 inches larger than the previous pot. Pack orchid potting mix around the roots. When the orchid is firmly in place, arrange a layer of orchid mix over the top of the roots; water well.

This article originally appeared on www.bhg.com.

Phalaenopsis orchid repotting step-by-step

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Orchids used to be an expensive luxury plant grown primarily by collectors. But, thanks to the amazing technique of tissue culture, orchids are now common finds at grocery stores, flower shops, and gift boutiques. This rapid, inexpensive propagation technique is very, very good for folks like me who love orchids but have never been able to afford them before. Because of tissue culture, the most commonly available orchids these days are in the genus Phalaenopsis, otherwise known as moth orchids. The blooms of Phalaenopsis orchids last for months, but eventually the flower stalk dies and the plant outgrows its container. That’s when it’s time to repot. Phalaenopsis orchid repotting is not a complicated affair. However, there are some important steps to follow.

When to repot a Phalaenopsis orchid

There are several signs indicating that it’s time to repot a Phalaenopsis orchid.

  • The lower leaves pucker, turn yellow, and start to die back.
  • The plant stem gets leggy and flops to the side.
  • Aerial roots grow down over the edge of the pot.
  • If the orchid is potted in coarse bark, the bark may be crumbly and soil-like, instead of firm.

If you haven’t repotted your Phalaenopsis in three or more years, that’s another sign that it’s time to repot your orchid. Fresh orchid potting mix and a renewed fertilization program stimulate the production of future flower stalks every few years.

Phalaenopsis orchids come in many colors. You can tell from the flower form how they got their common name of the moth orchid.

What time of year to repot an orchid

It’s best to repot Phalaenopsis orchids in either the spring or the fall, especially if you take them outdoors for the summer. If your plant hasn’t bloomed in a few years, Phalaenopsis orchid repotting is best performed in the spring. That way you can feed the plant throughout the summer and (hopefully!) generate blooms the following fall or winter.

While spring and fall are the best times for transplanting orchids, you can also repot moth orchids in the summer, as long as you make sure the plant gets enough water during this peak growing season. The only time you do not want to repot a Phalaenopsis orchid is when the plant is in bloom. If you do so, all the blooms will drop off due to stress and transplant shock.

    • You’ll need a pot that’s only 1 inch wider in diameter than the pot your orchid is already in. Phalaenopsis orchids are epiphytes, meaning that in the wild their roots cling to tree branches, rather than delving into the soil. Orchids perform their best when slightly pot-bound, so bigger isn’t better when it comes to the container. Choose a plastic orchid pot, terra cotta, or a decorative ceramic orchid pot, and make sure there’s one or more drainage holes in the bottom or sides of the pot. Terra cotta pots are more decorative and heavier, which helps support a top-heavy orchid. However, they dry out quickly. I solve this problem by growing my orchid in a plastic pot and then dropping the plastic pot into a decorative clay or ceramic container for display.
    • Potting mix formulated specifically for orchids. There are many brands on the market, but here is my favorite orchid potting soil.
    • Clean, sharp scissors or pruners.

Dead and dry roots, and crumbly orchid potting mix, are signs that the plant is ready to be repotted.

2. Remove the plant from its current container.

Gently grasp the plant with your hand and tip the pot on its side. In most cases, the orchid slips out nicely. In cases where the plant is extremely root bound, it requires more effort and may be quite the wrestling match.

3. Gently use your fingers to comb through the roots and remove the old potting medium.

Don’t worry about hurting the plant or its roots; you can be pretty aggressive with them and cause little to no harm. If pieces of bark get stuck in the roots, wash them out with a sharp stream of water from a sink or hose. Used orchid potting soil is a great addition to the compost pile.

Remove all of the old potting mix from the roots of your plant using your fingers or a sharp stream of water.

4. Use the scissors to cut off any dead or dying leaves and roots.

Dead roots appear shriveled and dry; new roots are plump and smooth. Work your way through the Phalaenopsis orchid’s roots, cutting off any that are dead, damaged, or rotten. Make your cut where the root grows out from the plant. Again, don’t be afraid to get a bit aggressive here. Any roots that aren’t 100% healthy should be cut off.

Use a clean, sharp scissors to trim away any dead roots before replanting.

5. Add a few inches of orchid potting mix to the bottom of the pot.

Be sure not to add too much. If you overfill the pot before adding the plant, you’ll take room away from the roots.

Place a few inches of orchid potting mix into the bottom of the pot before spreading the roots out into the container.

6. Gently place the root-pruned plant into the pot.

Spread the remaining roots out into the container. Keep the plant at the center of the pot. The bottom leaf should sit just above the pot’s rim.

7. Once the roots are settled into the pot, add more orchid potting mix.

Nestle more potting mix down in between the roots, and make sure there are no large pockets of air. Tap the pot on the table a few times throughout the process to settle the mix snugly against the roots. Fill the pot to within a half inch of the upper rim, leaving a little headspace for watering.

Fill the pot with more orchid potting mix to within a half inch of the pot’s rim, working the mix in between the roots.

8. Water your newly repotted Phalaenopsis orchid in well.

I water mine by placing the pot in a sink full of room temperature water up to the pot’s rim. Let the pot sit in the water for about 45 minutes, then drain and put the plant back in its display location. By the way, though ice cubes are often recommended as a way to irrigate orchids, they are far too cold for these warm-climate plants and may cause root rot.

After the pot has been filled, water the plant in well. I water by putting the pot in a sink full of tepid water for 45 minutes.

Extra tips for Phalaenopsis orchid repotting

  • If you’re completing the job indoors, spread newspaper or craft paper over your work space. It’s a messy job.
  • As you repot an orchid, check the entire plant for pests. Phalaenopsis orchid pests, such as mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites, can be wiped off the plant easily with a cotton swab soaked in rubbing alcohol. Transplant time is a great time to do this.
  • Do not fertilize a Phalaenopsis orchid for two to three months after repotting. Doing so could burn tender, newly developing roots.
  • When repotting Phalaenopsis orchids, it’s also a good time to clean any dust or debris off the leaves. A thick layer of dust restricts photosynthesis and detracts from the beauty of the plant’s glossy, green leaves. Use a damp cloth or paper towel to gently wipe off the leaves after transplanting is complete.
  • Repotting orchids in the spring often stimulates blooms the following fall or winter, especially if you’re careful to use an organic orchid fertilizer every two weeks throughout the summer.

Phalaenopsis orchids are among the toughest orchids, but they do require regular care to thrive and rebloom. Transplanting is an essential step in maintaining the health of these lovely plants.

Do you have experience with Phalaenopsis orchid repotting? Tell us about your experience in the comment section below.

For more on caring for indoor plants, check out the following articles:

  • Common houseplant pests and organic control
  • Fertilizing houseplants for success
  • The best houseplants for apartments
  • Caring for air plants

3 Telltale Signs It’s Time to Repot Your Orchid

You should repot your orchid every one to two years to keep it healthy and help it grow. Repotting also keeps the potting media in good shape, allowing for the rapid drainage and root aeration that Phalaenopsis orchids require.

If you’ve never repotted your orchid before, you might be wondering if it’s really necessary. You might also be hesitant to repot your orchid because you don’t want to damage it. Luckily, orchid repotting is super simple! Here are three telltale signs it’s time to repot and what you need to do next.

Why Repot Your Orchid?

Orchids are typically potted in loose, coarse fir bark mixed with other organic materials such as sphagnum peat and moss.

Over time, organic materials break down. As particles become small, finer and more tightly packed, the growing medium is unable to supply the orchid with sufficient nutrition. Air is no longer able to circulate around the orchid’s roots properly. Worst of all, fine, silty soils retain more water; enveloping orchid roots in perpetual moisture, which can quickly lead to root rot and/or the development of fungal disease.

As a general rule of thumb, Phalaenopsis orchids should be repotted every one to two years, but there are times when you might need to repot your orchid sooner.

Inspect your orchid plant periodically. Look carefully at the texture of the potting medium. If it appears to be breaking down or compacting, it’s time to repot. To check for excess moisture accumulation, remove the clear plastic grower pot from the decorative pot and inspect the plant’s roots. Healthy Phalaenopsis orchid roots should be a healthy green color. If roots look brown or soft, they are drowning in too much water. Roots that have turned a grayish-white are not receiving enough water.

3 Signs It’s Time To Repot Your Orchid

Most experts recommend repotting orchids every one to two years, and that can be a great rule of thumb to follow. However, there are a few other reasons that may come up in the meantime that require repotting earlier or more frequently. Here are three common reasons.

1. Your Orchid Has Outgrown Its Pot

Once you notice your orchid’s roots seem too crowded in its current container, it’s time to repot your orchid. If you see roots beginning to grow up from the plant stem or start to crawl over the side of the pot, it’s a telltale sign your pot has become too small.

    1. The plant has clearly overgrown the pot, with exposed roots hanging over the edges of the pot.
    2. The plant has grown too top-heavy for the available pot and it keeps falling over.
    3. The potting media has disintegrated into mush, which can harbor deadly bacteria and fungus.
  1. Assess the Situation. Do I really need to repot? This is a key question. You need to repot if:If any of these conditions are present, it’s time to repot.
  2. Pick Your Pot. There are many ways to grow an orchid. You can mount them on slabs of wood or tree fern, you can grow them in plastic or clay pots, you can grow them in hanging baskets, and some kinds you can simply hang from a wire in the air. Unless you have a greenhouse or conservatory, it’s easiest to grow them in pots. Orchid pots have slitted sides to allow for good drainage. There are plastic net pots available, and I use them for very small orchids. However, in general, I prefer the heavy clay pots, which are heavy enough to stay upright and retain just a tiny bit of moisture.
  3. Pick Your Potting Mix. Potting media is a controversial subject among orchid growers, and many dedicated growers insist on mixing up their own with ingredients like coconut husk, clay pellets, bark, tree fern, perlite, styrofoam, vermiculite, sphagnum moss and more. Whatever mix you use, these should be your guiding principles:
    1. Organic mixes decay faster. If you use pine fir bark (commonly available in most commercial mixes), it will decay within a year or so of adequate watering.
    2. Your mix must match your watering. If you water daily, choose a free draining mix that won’t hold water.
  4. Gently take the plant from its old pot. Remove your plant from its old pot as kindly as possible. Roots will often have adhered to the pot sides, and you might break a root or two. It probably won’t kill the plant, but try not to. Once you’ve got the plant free, inspect the roots carefully. Cut away and dead and blackened roots with sterile snippers and gently, with your finger, remove any rotted potting media.
  5. Divide the Plant if Necessary. Sympodial orchids, or those that grow from advancing pseudobulbs, can be divided at repotting. Keep at least three pseudobulbs on either side of your cut, and make sure there are healthy roots in both divisions. Cut the stem with sterilized snippers and plant each half individually. Some orchids with very small roots, such as oncidiums, can be teased apart into two individual clumps. Division of phalaenopsis is rarely possible unless the mother plant has produced plantlets on the stem of a flower (called a keikis).
  6. Prepare the Pot. Drainage is essential. If you don’t want to fill up the pot with expensive orchid potting media, you can add broken clay pots or even styrofoam packing peanuts to the bottom of the new pot.
  7. Position the Plant. Orchids aren’t like terrestrial plants: they aren’t packed in dirt. To position your orchid, balance it on potting media gently so the top of the plant is level or slightly above the rim of the new pot. Gently fill in around the orchid with more potting media. I frequently rely on orchid clips to hold a newly potted in place until the roots grow enough to anchor it in place. If you don’t have an orchid clip, that’s OK, but be aware that the plant is not stable in its new home until new roots have grown.
  8. Water Thoroughly. Your newly potted orchid will need some TLC for a while, until new roots begin to emerge and the plant goes into active growth. I have found that some orchids will fail to bloom the year after they are repotted. This is OK. Orchid growing forces patience, and oftentimes, the plant will be more vigorous than ever once it has become established in its new pot.

Orchids make the perfect houseplants — they’re stylish, long-lasting and easy to care for. They’ll continue to bloom for years with minimal effort.

After years of living in the same space, things might get cramped. And the same can be said for your moth orchid. Refresh your orchid – and let it spread its roots – by giving it a new home and repotting it.

Orchids generally need to be repotted once a year. The best time to repot is just after flowering, or when new growth appears.

You’ll know it’s time to repot if any of these reasons apply to you:

  1. Your orchid has tightly tangled roots. It’s normal for Phalaenopsis orchids to have loosely tangled roots. This is a surefire sign your orchid needs to be repotted. Give plants breathing room by placing it in a larger pot every year or two with fresh potting soil.
  2. It’s been a while since you’ve repotted. Orchids need fresh potting mix every year or so.
    This continues to provide plants with the best nutrients and encourages proper air circulation. Soil that is not replaced can retain more water, leading to root rot and leaving your orchid vulnerable to fungal diseases.
  3. Your orchid’s roots are soft and brown. If you truly waited too long to repot, you’ll notice that your orchid is holding too much water. The roots will appear brown and feel soft to the touch. Fresh orchid potting mix will provide your plant with the environment it needs to stay happy and healthy.

Think it’s time to repot? Follow the steps below to give your orchid the space and soil it needs to keep growing happy and healthy.

How to repot orchids:

  1. Choose the right medium. We suggest using Espoma Organic Orchid Mix. For best results, pre-soak orchid mix for 24 hours and allow water to drain.
  2. Remove orchid from current container and trim dead roots from the plant.
  3. Fill container to one third full with orchid mix.
  4. Position single stem plants in the center of the new pot. Position multi-stem plants against the pot wall. Staking may be required until the plants are fully established.
  5. Gently cover roots with additional mix and fill pot to 1/2 inch below rim.
  6. Water thoroughly. Add more mix if setting occurs.

Is your orchid telling you it needs to be repotted? Watch this video to learn how!

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