How do I repot an orchid?
It is essential to repot orchids every 1-2 years because they will be growing outside their pots and because the mix you use will eventually break down. I repot every new orchid I have as soon as it drops its last bloom because they have probably been in the same mix for quite some time and they need new fresh mix to be happy and thrive.
Repotting orchids can be fun and easy if you know what to do. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! If you want to know when to repot, look here. In this post I will tell you how to repot.
Note: I use Sphagnum moss to repot my orchids. I do this because I like to better. You DO NOT have to use moss. You can use a bark mixture (most mixes are made from bark)… This will work just fine.
Items you will need…
- Bowl for soaking orchid in and a colander to rinse orchid and for new mix
- Clean environment to work in
- Sterilized cutting tool
- Damp potting mix
- Cinnamon….yes, the ordinary spice from the grocery store. It's a natural fungicide
- Packing peanuts…not necessary but helpful
- New fresh pot
Okay here goes….
1. Cut back the former spike that the orchid bloomed from…at the base.
2. After you have gently pulled the orchid from the pot you will want to pull off the the moss/bark/mix from around the roots. Try to get it all because you really want to give it all fresh mix. I do this over the colander so the moss and bark don't clog the drain.
At this time you can get a good look at the roots. They should be green/white and plump with nice healthy tips. You can wash/spray the roots with water to get all the little bits of moss/bark off of them.
3. Next we are going to cut off any dying or rotting roots. Get your sterilized tool (dipped in Physan 20 or alcohol) and simply cut the root just above the rot in the healthy tissue. Some roots will be a slight yellow color, this is okay!! Don't over cut or the plant can't survive! Only cut the dark brown rotting/dying roots. These are often slimy and look gross.
4. This is not a necessary step but I like to let my plants take a dip in a gallon size bucket of watered down Physan 20, in order to kill any bacteria. I normally do this for 1-2 minutes.
5. After they have had their dip, I then sprinkle cinnamon on any freshly cut roots to prevent the spread of bacteria. Cinnamon is a natural fungicide.
6. Now it's time to place it in a new pot. I like clear pots so I can see what is going on with my orchids thougout the year. You will have to assess whether to keep it in the same size pot or go up a size depending on the root size. I have packing peanuts on hand in case the plant is in between sizes. In this case, take the packing peanuts and place them at the bottom of the pot to make it the right size. Orchids seem to like packing peanuts and will often grow right through them! You want an orchid to have enough room to grow but still be in a container that is snug. Orchids are not like normal houseplant in which you pot them in a much bigger container to let them grow…they like being snug (as shown in the picture below).
Note: While repotting it is important keep everything clean so as to not spread any potential disease. You will want to be cautious when reusing pots, they need to be sterilized between plants. Sometimes it is easier to use new pots than it is to try to clean the old pot. I put all my old clear pots through a cycle in my dishwasher before reusing them.
7. Once you have decided on a pot size, simply put the orchid in the pot holding it at the base level of the top of the pot. Then take your potting mix blend and tuck it in and around the roots. You can pack it tight or light depending on how much you want to water and the surroundings of where you keep your plants. The tighter it is packed, the slower it will dry out, and the less water it will require. I normally pack my orchids somewhere in the middle.
Note: All potting mix should be soaked and rinsed off in a colander (or something like that) before use. This will remove any little particles that may have built up and also wets the mix so it's less “shocking” to the orchid upon repotting it.
I use Sphagnum moss (I mostly have Phalaenopsis orchids) and I like to soak it, squeeze out extra moisture and then fluff it up again before putting it the new pot. If you use bark just rinse it off in the colander.
8. For the next day or two keep it out of direct sunlight to let it get acquainted with the new surroundings.
9. I then spray my plants with GET OFF ME! Natural Pest Control Spray and clean my orchid leaves with Wash Me! Natural Leaf Cleaner™ from www.rePotme.com, which keeps the bugs off and cleans the leaves. Orchids LOVE clean leaves!!
10. And don't forget to label it so you know next year what you did as far as this orchid: Went up a size? Went down a size? What did the roots look like? I take notes on mine…it makes it easier when you have 20 plus orchids!
And you're done:)
Here is a helpful video from rePotme…
Check out this tutorial for visuals….
Hope that helps,
Feel free to leave comments or questions.