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Repot Orchids: How to Re-Pot and Care for Your Orchid (2023)

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repot orchidsAre you overwhelmed by the thought of repotting your orchid? Don’t get in a tizzy – we’ve got all the information you need to help ensure that your upcoming re-potting venture goes off without a hitch.

Repotting an orchid is essential for its health and should be done every one to three years, depending on how crowded it’s become. In this guide, I’ll walk you through everything from determining when it’s time to repot an orchid; gathering supplies; choosing pot size and type; selecting potting mix components; how-to steps for re-potting, as well as tips on caring for your plant after being potted (or mounted).

So don’t sweat it – let’s dive right into learning about why and when to repot our beloved Orchids!

Key Takeaways

  • Repotting orchids every 1-3 years is essential for their health.
  • Signs indicating the necessity of repotting: roots sticking out or medium breaking, overcrowding.
  • Choose a pot one size larger, providing room for the roots to grow.
  • Tailor the potting mix according to the specific type of orchid and its needs.

Determine if It’s Time to Repot Your Orchid

Determine if It’s Time to Repot Your Orchid
You’ll recognize it’s time to repot when your orchid’s roots are poking out or the potting medium breaks down. Look for signs of overcrowding like roots climbing out of drainage holes or packed tightly against the sides.

Repot in spring when new growth emerges after winter dormancy. Healthy white roots with green tips indicate your orchid is ready. Gently remove it from the old pot and trim any dead roots with sterile shears before replanting in fresh orchid bark mix.

Choose a pot one size larger and work the media between roots. Proper techniques will keep your orchid thriving in its new home.

With the right care, your orchid will continue to bloom year after year.

How to Re-Pot an Orchid

How to Re-Pot an Orchid
Before repotting your orchid, you’ll want to first gather the necessary materials such as gloves, pots, potting media, and tools. Then, take the time to select the proper orchid pot and thoroughly clean it to provide a healthy new home for your plant.

Gather Your Materials

Before gathering potting materials, envision how your orchid will flourish with fresh roots and breathing room.

  1. Terracotta pot with drainage holes
  2. Bark-based orchid potting mix
  3. Gardening gloves for handling roots
  4. Pruning shears for trimming dead roots
  5. Plastic to cover the work surface

With patience and care, these simple materials empower your efforts to re-energize a root-bound orchid.

Choose the Orchid Pot

Carefully select your orchid’s new cradle, ensuring ample room for its roots yet snug enough to prevent tipping. Choose an orchid pot 1-2 inches larger than the root ball, considering drainage and potting mix as well.

Slotted orchid pots or terra cotta both work, matching the pot shape to the orchid’s growth pattern. Consider semi-hydroponic options as well. Just be sure the new home suits root volume, with quality potting media for healthy repotting.

Clean is King

Thoroughly sanitize your work area, tools, and pot to prevent harmful bacteria. Scrub and rinse the pot, then soak tools in a 10% bleach solution. This kills any lingering fungi or bacteria. When prepping the orchid, gently wash away old potting mix, then rinse the roots under running water.

Use sterilized pruners to trim off dead roots. Take care not to introduce disease. Keep your hands and tools clean between each step. Meticulous hygiene ensures your orchid stays healthy after repotting.

Select a Pot That is Not Too Big

Select a Pot That is Not Too Big
Don’t choose a pot that’s more than an inch larger in diameter than the current one, as oversized containers can hold too much moisture and lead to root rot in up to 68% of orchids.

When repotting your treasured orchids, take great care in selecting the right-sized new pot to support healthy root growth. Aim to give your orchid’s roots just a bit more room without providing an excessive amount of new potting medium for them to struggle in.

Choosing the proper container size ensures optimal moisture, airflow, and drainage around those sensitive orchid roots as they emerge. Stay mindful that oversized pots often retain too much moisture, creating an environment prone to deadly root rot.

For thriving orchid repotting results, gently work within your plant’s natural tendencies by selecting the ideal nurturing new home.

Orchid Pots Should Have Plenty of Drainage

Orchid Pots Should Have Plenty of Drainage
You’d be crazy not to poke holes in that pot if you want your orchid to survive the next rainstorm. Ensuring adequate drainage is crucial when choosing an orchid pot. Stagnant water leads to suffocated roots and disease.

Orchid pots must have drainage holes on the bottom and sides for excess water to escape. This prevents saturated potting mix and allows necessary air circulation to the roots. Consider using an open container like a slotted basket instead of a traditional flower pot.

Proper drainage, coupled with an appropriate orchid pot, provides the aeration, moisture control, and support needed for vigorous blooming.

Root Volume Determines Pot Size

Root Volume Determines Pot Size
You’ll want to choose an orchid pot based on the volume of the root system, not the size of the leaves and stems. A too-large pot means staying wet longer, inviting rot. A too-small one constricts roots from growing outwards.

Assess the rootball and allow an extra inch all around. But certain orchids like Oncidiums and Vandas prefer cramped quarters while others like Cattleyas need room to grow.

When repotting, look for healthy white roots with green tips. Trim away dead roots. Spread fresh orchid mix amongst roots, tapping the pot to settle it. Then water well and wait 1-2 weeks before soaking again, allowing new roots to form before overwhelming them.

With a snug new home and care, your orchid will reward you with vigorous growth.

Growing Environment and Pots

Growing Environment and Pots
Keep your orchid’s bark from going to the dogs by choosing an aerodynamic pot that matches its chill growing space.

For humid environments, choose an orchid pot with excellent drainage and air circulation for roots.

In dry climates, glazed ceramic pots help retain moisture while still allowing some air exchange.

Mount orchids for maximum air flow. Use water-resistant surfaces like tree fern plaques or cork bark.

Sensitive to bacteria, orchids thrive best when you precisely pair pot selection with the environment. Like a pilot gauging air speed velocity, factor humidity, circulation, drainage, and mounting techniques to keep your orchids healthy.

With the right pot, your orchid won’t go to barking mad.

Select Potting Mix

Select Potting Mix
Whet your appetite with premium potting mixes that nourish roots and promote plentiful blooms. Sympodial orchids require extra airy and quick-draining substrates like fir bark or sphagnum moss to avoid rot.

When repotting, first determine if the existing mix has decomposed; if so, replace it entirely with fresh components. Otherwise, add new material and reuse quality parts of the old batch. Always opt for reputable and orchid-specific mixes over generic multipurpose types.

Tailor components like bark chunks, volcanic rock, coconut coir, and charcoal based on the orchid variety’s needs.

Use This Chart to Choose the Correct Potting Media Components

Use This Chart to Choose the Correct Potting Media Components
Most orchid growers choose the correct mix components of medium-grade fir bark, fine charcoal, and perlite based on a plant’s genus. Interestingly, over 25,000 orchid species exist, each with unique growing needs.

Here are 3 tips for selecting the right potting media:

  1. Research recommended mixes for your particular orchid type. Genus and growing conditions greatly impact ideal potting ingredients.
  2. Use more bark and perlite for orchids requiring excellent drainage. Increase moss or foam fractions for orchids needing more moisture retention.
  3. Always include some fine charcoal to regulate moisture, provide air pockets, and prevent fungal or bacterial issues.

With so many orchid varieties, there’s no one-size-fits-all potting media. But following genus-specific guidelines and adjusting components like bark and moss fractions will set your orchids up for healthy growth.

Start with research, adjust for your environment, and choose quality ingredients.

How to Re-Pot an Orchid in 7 Steps

How to Re-Pot an Orchid in 7 Steps
You suspected your orchid needed repotting when its blooms faded and roots appeared above the potting mix. First, gently remove your orchid from its current container by tapping and loosening the sides, then work out the tangled mass of roots, removing any that are brown or mushy.

Begin by UnPotting

You’ll want to gently massage the orchid’s pot to loosen the root ball before sliding the plant out. Inspect roots for signs of damage or disease. Moisture management is key; soak overly dry root balls to rehydrate before unpotting.

When selecting a potting medium, consider the orchid’s needs and watering habits to prevent future root damage. Frequent repotting keeps roots healthy, but don’t overdo it. Misting gives newly repotted orchids a boost while new roots establish.

With careful handling and an optimal potting mix, your orchid will thrive in its new home.

Remove Old Potting Media

As you gently shake and massage the old pot, the compacted, soggy sphagnum moss will crumble away from the tangled roots before your eyes.

  • Use a chopstick to gently tease the old potting mix from the roots.
  • Rinse the roots under a gentle stream of water to remove debris.
  • Trim any dead roots with sterilized shears or pruners.
  • Apply hydrogen peroxide to roots to clean and revitalize.

Refreshing the orchid’s environment by replacing old potting media is vital for continued healthy growth.

Place the Orchid in the Pot

Gingerly place the orchid in its new pot, being careful not to damage those delicate roots. Take into consideration the orchid’s size when selecting the container. Properly orient the orchid based on its growth habits.

Make sure there are adequate drainage holes. Use high-quality orchid pots or terra cotta. Gently work fresh, moistened potting medium such as bark or moss between the roots. Avoid packing it down and leave air gaps. Water sparingly until new root growth appears.

Work in the Roots and Add Potting Media

Once the orchid is seated, gently wiggle potting mix between its roots, packing it in while taking care not to overstuff. Work the media around the roots, but don’t jam it in too tightly. Leave some air pockets for aeration.

Use a chopstick to spread the mix evenly. Handle new root tips with care to avoid damage.

  1. Hover over the root mass to prevent crushing.
  2. Use a chopstick for even distribution.
  3. Create small air pockets around the roots.
  4. Handle emerging root tips gently.
  5. Work the mix thoroughly among all roots.

Secure the Orchid

Secure your orchid firmly in the new pot so that it stands upright and won’t topple over. Stake or tie ascending orchids to bamboo skewers for support. Press firmly on the potting material around the monopodial orchid’s exposed roots before filling any gaps.

Consider using rhizome clips or orchid mounts if your plant grows on surfaces. Finally, label the pot with your orchid’s name and repot date for future reference.

How to Care for an Orchid After Potting – or Mounting

How to Care for an Orchid After Potting – or Mounting
Look alive, partner – your tender loving care sustains that sweet blossom now. Here are 5 tips for nurturing your newly potted orchid:

  1. Don’t overwater – wait for the bark to dry out between waterings.
  2. Mist daily to create humid conditions.
  3. Let the plant acclimate for 1-2 weeks before fertilizing.
  4. Check new leaf growth and roots weekly.
  5. Move the plant to brighter light as new leaves emerge.

Your attentive devotion will delight in the unfolding blossoms. Tend with compassion, notice subtleties, and adjust as needed.


Repotting orchids correctly is essential for their health and vitality. With the right materials, timing, and care, you can ensure your orchids will thrive after repotting.

Choose a pot that’s slightly larger than the existing one and never too big. Opt for a pot with plenty of drainage and the right potting mix for the type of orchid you have.

Take your time when unpotting, cleaning the roots, and potting the orchid. Mist the newly potted orchid for a week and provide the proper care for a successful repotting.

With the right repotting techniques, knowledge, and materials, your orchid will be healthy and beautiful for years to come.

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Mutasim Sweileh

Mutasim is a published author and software engineer and agriculture expert from the US. To date, he has helped thousands of people make their yards lush and thick.