How to Repot an Orchid with Air Roots? Step-by-step Guide

We all love our orchids taking care of them with tender loving care as they are very delicate. Yet, once in a while, you need to repot an orchid as they can grow and become older than you.

But how to repot an orchid with air roots is something you may not have done yet. Aerial roots play an essential part in your plant and need consideration when repotting orchids.

You can ensure your orchid thrives with every blooming season by repotting frequently. Plantly will guide you how.

What are Orchid Air Roots?

orchid with aerial roots

As a proud orchid owner, you noticed roots growing downwards into the growing medium. Yet, a few roots grow above the potting medium and are called aerial roots. It is a typical characteristic of orchids.

If you have a Phalaenopsis or other epiphyte outdoor plants, they do not grow in the ground when growing in their natural habitat. So, your orchid flower attaches itself to tree branches instead with these aerial roots.

Through the roots, they absorb nutrients and moisture from the air. So, it is normal for you when you have an orchid pot to see these air roots flourishing above and not inside the sphagnum moss.

The important thing is that the roots need to be white and firm to know they are healthy roots. Yet, if the number of aerial roots increases, it is a sign your orchid pot is getting too small and needs repotting.

Before considering repot an orchid, check the roots first and think about how long or when the last time you transplanted your plant. Noticing extra roots growing out of orchid bark is not always a sign that it needs repotting.

When Should You Repot Orchids

orchid with aerial roots

Orchids need repotting regularly as the potting media in the container breaks down with time. As most orchids do not grow in potting soil, they cannot handle the change taking place in the potting mix.

The particles become small and tightly packed, resulting in the orchid’s roots inside start spreading outside the pot. So, plant to repot an orchid every two years even if it seems fine. If the container becomes small and the potting mix breaks down, repotting happens faster.

As an epiphytic plant, the roots can become pot-bound and can end up making your indoor plant sick.

How to Repot an Orchid With Aerial Roots

repotting orchid

We recommend waiting for an appropriate time to repot your orchid. You can do this in the active growth phase during summer as it develops more aerial roots to help it adapt to its new pot. Then gather the needed components before starting. Get some potting mix, a new pot, scissors, sterilizing fluid, hydrogen peroxide, warm water, gloves, and a thermometer.

Step 1: Remove the Orchid From Its Pot

repotting orchid

How to repot an orchid with air roots is different from one without aerial roots. So, before taking your plant out of the container. Please give it some water and wait for the excess moisture to drain out.

When you water your plant, it helps loosen up the orchid roots, and you can gently pull it from the pot. Yet, you may find that some roots can get stuck in the container and needs some extra wiggling.

Take extra care not to damage the roots, as it helps increase the chance of your orchid taking on the new pot and medium. We recommend holding it close to the base instead of the orchid leaves.

Step 2: Remove the Old Potting Medium

repotting orchid

Now, gently shake the roots to remove any old potting mix from them. It is essential to remove the old medium for the plant to survive in its new home. With a shake, the chunks of bark or sphagnum moss fall off.

Step 3: Rinse & Soak the Orchid Roots

Next, take your orchid and rinse all the aerial roots and growing roots at the base with warm water.

Doing this makes the orchid roots flexible but prevents water from getting into the crown as it can lead to crown rot.

You can use some tissue paper if it happens to dry the crown out. Still, if you have stubborn rooting medium pieces stuck, soak the roots in warm water for up to 20-minutes.

As your orchids thrive in the water, you can leave it for a bit longer to ensure that all the medium is off the roots.

Step 4: Cut Dead & Rotting Roots

cutting dead roots off your orchid

Now is also the best time to check your orchid for dead roots and remove them as they only take up space and are not needed. Look at dry or mushy roots to remove with sterilized scissors.

If you have poor roots, it means you have overwatered your plant. It is also a sign that orchid lovers needed to repot sooner.

So, cut off those unhealthy ones to give the healthy air roots air to breathe when growing.

Step 5: Sterilize Orchid Roots

Next, use 3% hydrogen peroxide to spray the roots to remove fungi, pests, and bacteria. The steps are also helpful when you transplant your plants to prevent infections and disease but are an optional step.

Step 6: Repot the Orchid Plant and Water

watering orchid

Now that your orchids are disinfected, it helps clean your new pot or old one. An essential thing for orchid growers is to use a snug container, or you can buy one that is about two inches larger if not using the old pot.

Next, fill the container with fresh potting mix to avoid damaging the aerial roots when covering them. Finally, place your orchid in its new home and cover it with the medium. We recommend using your fingers to check the medium so that it does not get too tight or too dense.

Great, now you are done, and all you need to do is provide your baby with water and do your regular orchid care.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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