When To Repot an Orchid

When should I repot my orchid?

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Repotting orchids can be very fun (check out my How to Repot an Orchid post). I was scared out of my mind to start this process though! I had no idea what I was doing and thought I would, for sure, kill all my orchids. But once I got the hang of it and followed this tutorial, I was fine!! This post explains both the need to repot orchids and when to do so.

Why is it important to repot?

It is important to repot your orchids because they have most likely been in the same mix for quite some time and their mix will eventually break down. And if you got them from a store they have probably been over watered or underwater and repotting is also the best way to see their roots system. Some of the ones I repotted had horrible roots and would have died if I had not repotted them (check out my post on Root Rot).

Most websites say to repot all your orchids every 6 months to 2 years depending on the plant because their mix breaks down and smothers the roots. They love fresh new mix. I use the Classic/Imperial Orchid Mixes from rePotme.

Okay so here some pointers, as to when to repot.

Normally in the summer your orchids will lose their blooms, if grown naturally. If you received an orchid in the summer and it is in bloom, it was most likely forced into bloom by a nursery. You should always repot orchids when they go OUT of bloom. This gives them the best chance at a successful growth phase which should create the following flower phase. Orchids will smother if they remain in the same medium too long, they are air plants and need oxygen at their roots. Usually repotting every 2 years is adequate, though many will benefit from annual repotting. Your orchids, once you know them, will tell you when they need repotting…they will either be growing up and out of their pot or will show signs of suffering.
Below are signs that will tell you when to repot –

1. New Orchid: If you get a new orchid that is in bloom, enjoy it and water it gently as explained in How to Water post. AFTER it is done blooming, you should repot. I always repot my new orchids after they have dropped their last bloom because I want to see their root system and evaluate their future care.

Note: If you repot an orchid that is in bloom you will most likely experience bud blast. Bud blast is when an orchid protects itself by dropping its blooms. Repotting an orchid shocks it which can affect any buds and/or blooms. I have a post on Bud Blast for further information.

2. Roots growing out of the pot: If roots are growing up and out of the pot and they are OUT of bloom, it is probably time to move up in pot size and give them fresh mix (the pic at the top of this blog shows an example of an orchid growing out of its pot). Typically you would go up an inch or two in diameter of the pot. If they are in 4” we would go to 5, 5.5 or 6” depending on the root zone size.

Note: Many orchids have ariel roots (I have a post on this) that are normal and not a sign that an orchid needs a bigger pot. For example Phalaenopsis orchids often have a root that will grow in between their leaves. This is normal.

3. No pot drainage: You will also want to “drop pot” if your orchid is potted in a pot that has no drainage hole. This is one of the few times you will want to repot while your orchid is in bloom. Read the post that states READ THIS FIRST on why your orchid will die if it has no drainage hole!

Here is a guide as to when orchids are naturally repotted;

  • Brassavola = Winter/Spring
  • Cattleya = Spring/Fall
  • Catasetum = Spring
  • Cymbidium = Spring
  • Dendrobium = Spring
  • Doritaenopsis = Fall/Winter
  • Epidendrum = Spring
  • Encyclia = Spring
  • Laelia = Spring
  • Ludisia = Winter/Spring
  • Lycaste = Spring
  • Masdevallia = Spring
  • Miltonia = Fall
  • Miltoniopsis = Fall
  • Odontoglossom = Winter/Spring
  • Oncidium = Winter/Spring
  • Paphiopedilum = Spring
  • Phalaenopsis = Spring/Summer
  • Phragmipedium= Spring
  • Psychopsis = Spring
  • Sophronitis = Spring
  • Stanhopea = Spring/Fall
  • Vanda = Fall

Hope that helps,

Hannah

Feel free to leave comments or questions. And email me at myfirstorchid@gmail.com

 

90 Comments on “When To Repot an Orchid

  1. Thank you for all info.
    I am an outside gardener-and know little about Orchids. My friend across the street had a flow er delivery business and always asks me to save plants that are going to be dumped

    I have two Orchids that are producing exceedingly well: if I take the chance to repot what soil mix should I use

  2. Hi Hannah, I was given a tiny orchid in bloom in February this year (UK) it’s had one stem constantly in bloom since then, and the flowers are only now showing signs of falling. In the meantime it has produced a new leaf. I was going to repot it to one size bigger pot once the last bloom had gone, but yesterday I noticed what is definitely a tiny new flower spike forming! Would I be right (looking at your replies to others) that I should now wait until this spike is flowered and over, probably this time next year! It’s obviously a healthy little plant and I would hate to spoil it! It’s a phalenopsis. Will it matter if it’s not repotted? I feed for three waterings out of four and water every two weeks which seems to work.
    Thanks for your help 🙂

  3. Hi,
    I have a store bought orchid which I have had about a year or so. It’s still blooming but some of the roots are turning black. Should I re pot it into a bigger pot now or wait till it is done blooming?

    Richelle

    • Hi,

      I always like to wait till its done blooming because repotting and orchid can shock it and cause the orchid blooms to fall off prematurely.

      Make sure to only water it when it’s super dry. And if you suspect it’s rotting then you can always send me a picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com and I can take a look,

      Hannah

  4. Hi I have had a orchid for about three years and think it may need repotting but it’s never been out of Bloom and I don’t want to kill it please help!

  5. Is it okay to cut off airial roots? Or should I repot it in a deeper pot that covers them?

  6. HI,
    I have 3 small individual orchids that i placed in a decorative pot, i have put newspaper on bottom of it and topped it with white stones for decoration. I have only just done it a few days ago and wondered if it would damage them, reason for newspaper on bottom of pot is so I don’t use as many white stones. when i watered it obviously newspaper stayed wet which I thought could also be their source of water.

    The orchids are in their own individual plastic pots which is how I bought them from Flower Power, they have holes on bottom,
    will the wet newspaper do any damage? will they be able to breath?
    appreciate any feedback
    thanks
    beti

  7. Hello.I received an orchid 4 months ago and im just in love with it…I started to read everywhere how to take care of her and my boyfriend bought me 6 more orchids…lol.So..I am just following your blog wich helps me allot!!!!All the orchids are very healthy..they all have blooms and little leaves growing..instead of one.We bought her because it was kinda like dead…and I just wanted to save her.But her roots are growing under the pot like getting out of the pot from her pot holes and they are starting to be yellow!!!I want to repot her but I don’t know if that;s why they are yellow????Sorry for my english,I’m learning it now,Romina.

    • Hi,

      You can repot it if it’s not in bloom. It’s good that the roots are growing so well! You want the orchid to be snug in its pot so don’t get too big of a pot.

      Hannah

  8. So one of my four orchids is growing a keiki. I was planning on repotting this particular orchid next week, but when I noticed the growth of the keiki, I began to worry about shocking the plant by repotting it. The baby is approx 3 months into it’s growth.

    My question is: is it safe, for the mature & baby orchid, if I repotted them while they are still connected?

  9. Hi
    I have an orchid brought from a large food shop… originally blue in colour obviously from some sort of dye. Anyway I’ve had it for around 3 years now all the flowers are now white . It hasn’t stopped blooming once! It’s now quite large and outgrown its pot. Should I repot and chance it .. I love my orchid and wouldn’t want to kill it off….

  10. Hello
    I got a mini orchid for my birthday 3 months ago. It was in full bloom when I got it. So after it lost the blooms I cut of the stem where it turned brownish red, I did not repot it. It looked healthy for some time.. N I watered it once a week.. But I haven’t had the pleasure of seeing new blooms or leaves.
    And I found last week that two leaves of my orchid is wilting 😦 … They started wilting from the base .. N one tiny leaf has a yellow colour at tip of it
    I don’t knw what to do n this is my first orchid I don’t want it to die… Can u help plzz

  11. hello
    I bought my Phalaenopsis orchid (first ever orchid) in a store .
    I read a lot about Phalaenopsis and its a beauty but it has root rot ALOT.its medium was coconut husk.

    I repoted the orchid with new “professional” mixture for orchid ( its coconut husk- thats what I was able to find)
    I cut all the bad rots with clean sizers and some rots used cinnamon to seal .
    that watered the new medium .

    What can I do more to help him ?
    he has around 3-4 good roots which are green (in the medium) and two good air roots.
    I dont want to cut the flowers.

  12. hello
    I bought my Phalaenopsis orchid (first ever orchid) in a store .
    I read a lot about Phalaenopsis and its a beauty but it has root rot ALOT.its medium was coconut husk.

    I repoted the orchid with new “professional” mixture for orchid ( its coconut husk- thats what I was able to find)
    I cut all the bad rots with clean sizers and some rots used cinnamon to seal .
    that watered the new medium .

    What can I do more to help him ?
    he has around 3-4 good roots which are green (in the medium) and two good air roots.
    I dont want to cut the flowers.

    some pic after I repoted

    • The best thing you can do is to let it completely dry out and only water it when it’s super dry. That way the roots can recover.

      Hannah

  13. Hi Hannah!

    So, I bought my first orchid last February (2015) [The $1.50 Orchid ;D]. I had a fiasco with it trying to die on me. I found your blog right after I got it and followed your instructions to repot it. However, it decided it wasn’t happy at ALL about the new environment and started dropping all its leaves and had terrible root rot. Thanks to you, I was able to save it by applying hydrogen peroxide on it every few days followed with cinnamon… I have since repotted it in new, fresh medium and it has finally stabilized (with only three leaves, poor thing) …

    My problem with it now is it has finally grown new roots but in a way that it’s pushing itself out of the pot. You would not believe how many times I’ve come home from work and it be OUT OF THE POT ….. sneaky buggar. It has even got a nasty scar where the top leaf broke from it falling when my husband just walked by. I think it wanted attention or something… I dunno.

    I was about to repot it again in a bigger pot (why oh why won’t it stay in it’s current pot???? It’s only got five roots!!) but I noticed it started a spike. I’ve left it alone and actually have the leaves propped up on another one of my orchid pots beside it to make it quit falling over so the spike won’t break. (One perk is the spike is kinda growing straight up since the plant itself is sideways ha! easy staking!!)

    I’ve searched your blog, but have found nothing on a stubborn orchid that refuses to stay potted. 😀 Any info or suggestions would be lovely~

  14. I received an Phalaenopsis Orchid for my birthday about 6 months ago. I have never been one with a green thumb and am desperately trying to not kill it. The blooms did fall off and I cut the spike down, but apparently missed the memo on repotting. It did get a little neglected in watering for a while but now the plant has a good sized new leaf but no bloom spikes visible. Can/should I repot it now?

  15. i have my first baby orchid. i bought it with blooms this summer,they died and now i’m getting two separate new blooms with about three blooms on each. I don’t know what type orchid i have. I do keep it on the West side window,I read your blog and will repot after the blooms fall off. Thank you

  16. Hello Hanna,

    No questions – just a simple thank you for your very helpful blog! I’ve bought 4 orchids over the past year and absolutely love them. It’s now time for repotting, and your tips will come in handy!

    Be well.

  17. Hello I have two orchids and I’m fairly new to the whole indoor gardener thing and I haven’t a clue what type my orchid are, I got them both from sainsburys at the moment one of my orchids flowers have fallen off so I can’t describe it but my smaller orchid is orange with red lines going through the petals and it’s grown in moss not soil do you think you know what type it is?

  18. I have one orchid in its third year with 9 blooms (the most up to now) and one in its second year with 12 blooms.They are just beginning to wilt from the lowest bloom.. what I want to know is whether I can cut back some of the leaves when I repot them after they have finished blooming. the leaves are enormous and a damaged one has kept alive, but I don’t want to do them any damage. I had no idea how easy they are to grow and they are quite stunning.

  19. my orchid has a what looks like a new spike forming on bottom of stem. Can I transplant it now?

  20. Hi Hannah, this is not a reply but a question since I don’t know where on the blog to ask a question! I just cut off two keikis from a blooming phaleonopsis. Within two days, the leaves on the mother plant are turning yellow. It also needs to be repotted. Help!!!

  21. Thank you for getting back so quickly. I took it out of the ceramic pot.
    I also took another look at the roots(a little bit more carefully this time) There is one root that is very light colored and has dark spots. And another root is dark and most likely mushy in one spot. other roots may have the same problem but I do not know for sure. I know this must be root rot from over watering at the store.

    1) Should I take my orchid out of the little plastic pot to cut out the root rot and put it back into the same pot?
    2) Or should I wait until my orchid goes out of bloom and cut out the molded roots and repot all at the same time?
    3) A lot of the roots are a very very light green, is that normal?

    I have no idea what to do. I am kind of new to this.

    • Hi,

      I would wait till its out of bloom to repot it. I say this for two reasons.. 1. If it is really effected from the store overwatering it may die (which it probably won’t) but you want to enjoy the flowers for now. 2. It won’t bloom again for awhile so enjoy the flowers – if you repot it now they may fall off prematurely because of the shock.

      Hannah

  22. I just got a big phal orchid today. It has a little clear plastic drainage pot inside a decorative non drainage ceramic pot. The roots are green and healthy, but they are snug inside this little pot. The flowers are in bloom there are five and already grown and there is a little light green un bloomed bud on the end.

    1) will the little bud even bloom even though it is almost august?
    2) Should I replant my orchid even though it is in bloom?
    3)Will the snugness of the little plastic pot hurt my orchids growth?
    4) how do I get rid of all the extra moisture, the store must have over watered it?
    and
    5) Should I keep the orchid in both the non draining ceramic pot and the little plastic pot together? or should I get rid of the ceramic pot and just have the little plastic pot to give the orchid more air?

    Sorry if i am freaking out, I accidentally put my other orchid into shock by repotting it in new mix while in bloom and it lost its buds. Lastly, will the orchid I put into shock be o.k.? Is there any special treatment it needs?

  23. I just repotted my orchid …the blooms were gone…now do i cut down the long stem where the blooms were? The stem is 18″ tall…..i planted it in an orchid clay pot!

  24. Hi. I have a Phalaenopsis orchid. It has a lot of new roots coming out of the base of the plant and also in between the leaves. This article says they are aerial roots. Are new roots grown before a spike? This mean my orchid is happy, right? I have been using Jack’s Bloom Blaster (orchid fertilizer) given to me by a nursery 2 months ago and I just now started to see a lot of activity with root growth. If my orchid is growing roots, does that mean it’s bloom period right now and just hope they don’t try to go outside of my pot? I’ve had the plant since last March and have yet to see new blooms. If you need to see a picture let me know. Thanks!

    • Hi,

      Orchids grow a lot of new roots and new leaves in their active growth phase. Typically they will bloom after. Most orchids don’t bloom until the fall though. Was your orchid in bloom when you got it in March?

      Hannah

  25. I recieved an orchid May 12 2012 the day my first daughter was born, here we are almost 3 years later and it is actually bloomed right now. It has bloomed about 12x since may 12th 2012. The roots have been growing on the outside of the pot and the orchid needs a new pot. They are about 8 inches long outside the pot. The orchid is sitting in a nice window in the kitchen and gets watered every sat sometimes every other saturday. My question is:

    How do I repot my orchid without killing it? I was told if I change its surroundings it will die.

    What will happen if those roots that have been outside for so long get covered by repotting? will that freak them out because they have been growing freely for so long?

    Thank you

    Chelsie

    • Hi,

      Those roots are called aerial roots (well some of them)… https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/aerial-roots/

      Either way you want to soak those roots so they become malleable and then repot it. Maybe for like 5 minutes in bowl of water. And no they won’t freak out if you bury them 🙂

      You want to repot your orchid like it states above. I repot my orchids all the time without them dying. You should not however repot it while it’s in bloom because the blooms could prematurely fall off bc repotting it kind of shocks the orchid.

      Hannah

  26. Hi well done your website is so helpful! Just have a question. I bought an orchid in September blooming, then it lost its flowers naturally and I cut the stem (maybe 3 weeks ago). It seems to be doing fine. Should I repot it anyway? I’m just scared it will sdhock it and stop any activity it is up to! Also, it has many buried roots that look fine but may be a bit tight. Some are coming out of drainage holes!
    Last thing…if everything goes fine, when shall I be expected to see a new spike? (It was booming in September)
    Thank you so much in advance!

    Irene

    • Irene,

      I would love to help. It should not bloom again for a year… You can repot it now if you like especially if it’s cramped. But don’t go up to big of a size. They like to be snug.

      Hannah

  27. Hi.

    Great site, I’ve been reading for two days!

    I have a phal orchid I was given last December in full bloom – two flowering stems. It is now the following October and it is still blooming! I have put in longer stakes to support the lengthening spikes but the plant is becoming very top heavy. The roots are also growing out of the bottom of the pot by several inches. I have the clear plastic pot (with holes in) inside a decorative ceramic pot and these roots are pushing the plastic pot out of the top of the ceramic pot!

    Should I ……

    Leave it as it is until it eventually stops blooming and then repot

    Cut the roots that are sticking out of the bottom of the pot off

    Re pot whilst still in bloom

    I am in the uk and the orchid is in a kitchen that is pretty cool overnight (one of my other orchids has just put out a new spike) . I water very sparingly (when I remember!!)

    Look forward to some advice 🙂

    • Jane,

      I would love to help! Wow it’s been in bloom for that long!!??

      Do not cut any roots that are not black and mushy. Roots give the plant sustenance. I would wait till it stops blooming and then repot it.

      Just to be clear – it’s been in bloom for ten months straight??

      Hannah

      You can always send me a picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com.

      • Thanks for your reply Hannah. Yes, we were given the orchid dec 13th 2013 as a house warming gift from my mother and it has been in bloom ever since!

        Thanks for the advice on repotting, I’ll leave it as it is for now.

        I’ll send a picture in the morning (uk time!).

        Thanks

  28. I just bought my orchid and it is in bloom. I have read that when being sold, the moss is packed very tightly and can retain too much moisture, should I repot it now or wait until its out of bloom?
    Thanks!

  29. Hello Hannah,

    I bought an Orchid around mid-July and when I bought it, it had 8 leaves and 12 flowers in bloom. The roots of the orchids are really overflowing out the pot so I was going to re-pot it but then I remembered that it is always best to re-pot an orchid after all the blooms have fallen off.

    Well 6 have fallen off so far, so now there are 6 left. However before that happened 2 of the bottom leaves turned yellow and fell off, with no sign of any new growth happening. So I am still waiting for the rest of the flowers to fall off so that I can re-pot them. However there are now three more leaves on the bottom that are not looking too good. I am not sure what is causing this and if re-potting would help,

    So I was wondering if in this case would it be better for me to just re-pot the orchid now while some of the flowers are still in bloom or if I should just wait until the last 6 flowers fall off even if one ore two more leaves may fall off at the bottom during the process?

    Thanks,
    Tina

    • Hi Tina,

      Is it by any chance potted in pot without a drainage hole? Some have inner plastic pots with drainage and outer decorative pots without drainage.

      Hannah

      • Oh wow, I thought my email would have informed me when you replied, but it didn’t so i just saw your message, sorry about that.
        But Yes it is potted in a pot with drainage holes. I took it out of the decorative pot that did not have any. However since the time I first wrote my post all the flowers has fallen off so I am going to re-pot it soon. Also It is finally showing signs of new growth but it looks a little brown. Is that normal?

  30. Hi Hannah,

    I was given a just add ice orchid about 6 months ago, but it had no bloom just leaves. So I was concerned for a while because it showed no signs of growing. I stopped watering it with ice and started watering it with room temperature water a few times a week. So it has finally sprouted a new leaf and there is a stem sprouting from the side now. It is planted in a moss mixture currently. Should I repot it while it is finally starting to grow.

    • Gabby,

      I would love to help!

      No do not repot it!! You don’t want to repot an orchid unless it is out of bloom. Repotting an orchid “shocks” it and can cause bud blast (I have a post on this) meaning the orchid can lose it blooms. Wait till it’s done blooming to repot.

      Hope that helps,

      Hannah

  31. Hi Hannah!

    Thanks for the information. I just bought an orchid for a sky planter, so I had to re-pot while it was still in bloom. However, I live in Mexico City and couldn’t find any orchid mix near me, so I re-potted with the same bark it was in when I bought it. After two weeks all of the blooms fell off, which after reading your post I assume was a case of bud blast. My question is: do I re-pot again now? And should I change the mix?

    Thank you!
    SK

    • SK,

      I would love to help!

      I would repot it new mix when you get the chance. Old mix breaks down and lacks nutrients.

      Bud blast is normally when an orchids buds do not open. Most of the time when orchid blooms open and then fall it’s natural as shown here –

      https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/03/23/orchid-bloom-dying-naturally/

      In this case it’s hard to tell because repotting while in bloom could have caused them to prematurely fall off. Either way you can repot it now because the blooms are gone.

      Let me know if you have further questions,

      Hannah

      • Thanks Hannah! My orchid was in bloom when I bought it, so it wasn’t bud blast after all. I will re-pot it today.

        Thank you!
        SK

  32. Hi so I love Orchids!!! My grandmother cared for them back and phlippines and they just grew on trees!!! so thats harder in calgary to be honest ive had failed orchids before (Bows down on shame) But i still love them very much!!! So on my birthday I got this sweet little orchid from a friend and i saw that it was in a non drainage pot so i hurriedly transferred it but now im worried if i should cut out the stem because the roots were looking a little bad. so how can i send you the pics of it?

  33. My husband just bought me 3 orchids for Mothers Day. How do I know what variety they are?

    • Hi Sandra,

      I would love to help! You can email me a picture at myfirstorchid@gmail.com and I could tell you. They are most likely Phalaenopsis “Moth” orchids because those seem to be the most popular – you could google that image as well – if you prefer,

      Hannah

  34. Just saying, if you have 50/50 Phals and Doritaenopsis youèll probably have blooming orchids year-round! The flowers look the same, I think.
    John

  35. Hi there — My orchid’s roots have started to grow out of the pot but it has also started to grow a new stock. Should I repot now, or wait?

    • Hi Hannah, great name:)

      I would love to help!

      Did you mean growing a new shoot? if so don’t repot it! You will want to repot after the shoot has fully grown, produced flowers, the flowers have all fallen off and it’s done with its bloom cycle.

      If you repot when the orchid is in bloom you may experience “bud blast” which is when an orchid is shocked…and the blooms shrivel up and fall off. It is super sad when this happens:(

      Bud blast https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2012/03/24/bud-blast/

      You don’t really have to worry too much about ariel roots. They tend to grow up and outside pots, and even though they are not pretty, they are not a sign for repotting immediately.

      When you do go to repot you can get your whole plant super wet by soaking it in water, so the ariel roots are malleable (if not they will break), and try to bury them in the mix. But if they are growing in between leaves sometimes you can’t do anything about this…in nature their roots are trying to grow up and around trees so this is natural.

      Nature. https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/11/18/orchid-growth-in-the-wild/

      Repotting tutorial https://myfirstorchid.wordpress.com/2011/10/26/32/

      Does that help?

      Hannah

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