To have the best chance of successfully repotting orchids, it is best to know what of orchid it is so that you will it’s growth patterns. There are two main types of growth patterns for orchids, and the methods for each are slightly different. There are the Monopodial and the Sympodial kinds of orchids.
Repotting Monopodial orchids
Monopodial orchids like the Moth orchid are notable for having stems that grow upwards. Each year one or two leaves grow at the top of the stem while older leaves eventually drop off.
Best time to repot
For Monopodial orchids repot when the lower leaves have dropped off or died. It would help if you aimed to
It would help if you never tried to
Materials required to
Potting medium (shop brought or homemade)
Rubber or latex gloves
Scissors and a new razor blade, pruner
A pot (check size and material)
Recipe for pot medium
Here is one of many pot medium recipes, experiment until you find one you like:
Five chunks of fresh fir bark
1 part gardening charcoal (barbeque charcoal does not work)
1 part perlite/sponge rock
Pick your pot
Picking a suitable pot is key for any repot to work. The size needs to be right, too small and the plant will be cramped, too big and the roots will rot as the pot will hold too much water.
Also, it would help if you decided between plastic and clay pots. If you can spare the extra money for clay use clay pots as orchids will grow larger and can fall out of plastic pots. Roots will not rot in clay pots either.
If you reuse pots clean them out with bleach and water, allow 2 hours for plastic pots to dry and two days for clay pots.
Take the plant out of the old pot
Grab the plant by the stem and gently lift it out of the pot, break the pot if you have to.
Remove the old pot medium.
It would help if you made that the maximum amount of the old medium is removed from the plant by gently shaking it. If bits are stuck rinse with tepid water.
Remove dead leaves and stalks.
Carefully using your hand or the pruner remove all dead leaves and stalks from the plant.
Remove dead roots
Take the new razor blade to remove dead roots; you can these are dead if they feel hollow. If the entire source is gone, then remove the whole of it.
Prepare the new pot
Sprinkle the bottom of the pot with a layer of pot medium.
Put the plant into the pot.
You can now put the plant in the pot, laying the roots underneath, the bottom leaf needs to be just above the top of the pot.
Put in the potting medium
Now fill the rest of the pot with the potting medium, gently press into place.
Label your plant
Put the full Latin name on to the label, so you know what plant it is if you need help and advise about it.
Write the month and year of when you have repotted the plant, and also the date it flowers. If a plant has not bloomed in 3 years, then throw it away or see if someone else can grow it better.
Attach the label on to the pot or the plant and make it is not lost. More committed orchid growers will keep log books too.
Watering the plant
When the orchid is first repotted it will need to have plenty of water, some people even put the whole pot into a tub or larger container for an hour. Do not use cold water as it will harm the roots; using tepid water is the best option as it causes no harm at all. Always avoid watering with water containing ice cubes as this kill orchids or any other type of plant. Cold water harms plants just like sharp frosts will do.
The watering needs to be done thoroughly so that all the pot medium has been soaked. Once the whole plant is watered then make sure excess water is removed to prevent roots rotting.
About Monopodial Orchids
- When it comes to roots sticking out of the pots that is a normal thing to happen with orchids. With other plants, it would be reason enough to be alarmed about the health of the plant. Orchids are different as the roots will grow in any direction to get the water and nutrients needed.
Orchids also have aerial roots to take moisture out of the air, to go with the random way the roots grow.
- Orchid roots grow large, and they twist around things, again nothing to worry about. It is how their roots grow and spread in the wild, where there is more room to expand. There are little pockets too in the origins that trap nutrients.
Often it is not the roots that persuade people to repot orchids. Instead, it is the potting medium, or at least how its breakdowns. Fresh pot medium is suitable as it absorbs water but allows excess amounts to be drained away once it breaks down into smaller parts it retains water.