Orchids are among the most beautiful and popular houseplants, with their exotic and colorful flowers that can last for weeks or months. However, orchids also require some care and maintenance, especially when it comes to repotting them. Repotting orchids is essential to prevent their roots from getting overcrowded and suffocated, and to provide them with fresh and nutritious potting medium. Repotting orchids can also help them to grow stronger and healthier, and to produce more and better blooms.
In this article, we will explain how to repot orchids using a simple and easy method that anyone can follow. We will also answer some of the most frequently asked questions about repotting orchids. By the end of this article, you will have a better understanding of how to repot orchids and why it is important for orchid lovers.
How to Repot Orchids?
The first question that many orchid owners have is when and why to repot orchids. The answer is not always straightforward, as different orchids may have different repotting needs and preferences. However, here are some general guidelines that can help you decide when and why to repot your orchids:
When to repot orchids?
“The optimal period to repot orchids is typically right after their flowering cycle ends, coinciding with the emergence of new growth. Usually occurring in the spring or summer, this timing can vary among orchid species based on their unique blooming cycles. Repotting during this phase enables orchids to acclimate to new pots and fresh potting mediums, aiding in their recovery from the stresses of repotting. However, in cases where orchids exhibit severe root-binding, disease, or infestation issues, immediate repotting becomes necessary, regardless of whether yellow leaves are present or at any flowering stage.”
Why to repot orchids?
The main reason to repot orchids is to prevent their roots from getting overcrowded and suffocated in their old pot and potting medium. Orchids are epiphytic plants, which means they grow on trees or rocks in their natural habitat, and they have aerial roots that need a lot of air and drainage.
“Selecting the right orchids is crucial, considering various factors that influence their growth. Additionally, it’s important to understand that if orchid roots become tightly packed within their pots, they risk inadequate oxygen and water supply, potentially leading to rot or decay. Addressing how to choose orchids and subsequently caring for them involves knowing when to repot. Repotting orchids not only addresses root issues but also eliminates harmful fungi, bacteria, or pests present in the old potting medium. This process provides them with fresh, nutrient-rich soil conducive to sustained growth and blooming.”
How to Repot Orchids: Step by Step Guide
Now that you know when and why to repot orchids, you may wonder how to repot orchids in a simple and easy way. Here are the steps and tips that you can follow to repot your orchids successfully:
- Step 1: Gather the materials: Before you start repotting your orchid, you need to gather the materials that you will need for the process. These include:
- A new pot that is slightly larger than the old one, preferably with drainage holes and slits. You can use a plastic, ceramic, or terra cotta pot, or a special orchid pot that has more holes to expose the roots to more air. You can also use a basket, a net, or a mount, depending on the orchid type and your preference.
- A potting medium that is suitable for orchids, such as bark, moss, perlite, charcoal, coconut husk, or a combination of these. You can buy a ready-made orchid potting mix from a garden center or online, or you can make your own by following a recipe that matches your orchid’s needs. You can also soak the potting medium in water for a few hours before using it, to make it moist and soft.
- A pair of scissors or pruners that are sharp and clean. You can sterilize them by wiping them with alcohol or bleach, to prevent spreading diseases or infections to your orchid.
- A spray bottle or a watering can that is filled with water. You can also add some hydrogen peroxide or cinnamon to the water, to disinfect and heal your orchid’s roots.
- A label or a marker that you can use to write the orchid’s name and the repotting date on the new pot, to keep track of your orchid’s history and care.
- Step 2: Remove the orchid from the old pot: The next step is to remove the orchid from the old pot, which can be tricky and delicate. Here are some tips to do it safely and gently:
- Water your orchid well a day or two before repotting it, to make the roots more pliable and easier to remove.
- Turn the pot upside down and tap or squeeze it gently, to loosen the orchid and the potting medium from the pot. You can also use a knife or a spatula to slide around the edges of the pot, to detach the orchid and the potting medium from the pot.
- Pull the orchid out of the pot by holding it as close to the roots as possible, and avoid pulling it by the leaves or the stems, which may break or damage them.
- If the orchid is stuck or glued to the pot, you may need to break or cut the pot, to free the orchid. However, be careful not to hurt yourself or the orchid in the process.
- Step 3: Clean the roots: The next step is to clean the roots, which is important to remove the old potting medium and to inspect the roots for any problems. Here are some tips to do it properly and thoroughly:
- Remove as much of the old potting medium as possible, by shaking, brushing, or picking it off the roots. You can also use a toothpick or a chopstick to get rid of the potting medium that is stuck between the roots.
- Rinse the roots with lukewarm water, to wash away any remaining potting medium or dirt. You can also use a gentle spray or a shower, to avoid damaging the roots.
- Trim off any dead, rotten, or diseased roots, with your sterilized scissors or pruners. You can identify the bad roots by their color, texture, or smell. The bad roots are usually brown, black, yellow, or mushy, and they may have a foul odor. The good roots are usually green, white, or silver, and they are firm and healthy.
- Spray the roots with hydrogen peroxide or water mixed with cinnamon, to disinfect and heal the roots. You can also let the roots dry for a few minutes, to allow the cuts to seal.
- Step 4: Repot the orchid in the new pot: The next step is to repot the orchid in the new pot, which is the most exciting and rewarding part of the process. Here are some tips to do it correctly and beautifully:
- Choose a new pot that is slightly larger than the old one, preferably with drainage holes and slits. You can use a plastic, ceramic, or terra cotta pot, or a special orchid pot that has more holes to expose the roots to more air. You can also use a basket, a net, or a mount, depending on the orchid type and your preference.
- Fill the new pot with a potting medium that is suitable for orchids, such as bark, moss, perlite, charcoal, coconut husk, or a combination of these. You can buy a ready-made orchid potting mix from a garden center or online, or you can make your own by following a recipe that matches your orchid’s needs. You can also soak the potting medium in water for a few hours before using it, to make it moist and soft.
- Place the orchid in the center of the new pot, and spread the roots evenly around the pot. You can also position the orchid slightly lower or higher in the pot, depending on the orchid type and your preference. You can also make sure that the orchid is stable and secure in the pot, and that it is not leaning or wobbling.
- Add more potting medium around the orchid’s roots, and press it firmly to fill the gaps and spaces. You can also tap or shake the pot gently, to settle the potting medium and the orchid in the pot. You can also leave some space between the top of the potting medium and the rim of the pot, to allow for watering and drainage.
- Write the orchid’s name and the repotting date on the label or the marker, and attach it to the new pot, to keep track of your orchid’s history and care.
- Step 5: Care for the repotted orchid: The last step is to care for the repotted orchid, which is crucial to help it recover and thrive in its new home. Here are some tips to do it effectively and lovingly:
- Water your repotted orchid well, to moisten the potting medium and the roots. You can also use a watering can or a hose, to avoid splashing water on the leaves or the flowers. You can also drain the excess water from the pot, to prevent root rot or fungus.
- Fertilize your repotted orchid lightly, to provide some nutrients and boost its growth and flowering. You can also use a balanced or orchid-specific fertilizer, diluted to half or a quarter of the recommended strength.