Complete Guide on How to Repot An Orchid

Orchids need repotting as they grow older. When repotting orchids with aerial roots, be careful not to damage the critical structures. Repotting when necessary helps orchids thrive and bloom each season.

What are Orchid Air Roots?

orchid with aerial roots

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 to tree branches instead of these aerial roots.

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

The important thing is that the roots must be white and firm to know they are healthy. 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 consider how long or when you last 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 every 1-2 years when the potting mix breaks down. The particles degrade into a delicate material that compacts tightly around roots, causing suffocation and rotting. Early spring is the ideal repotting time, as new root growth is starting.

Repotting in spring allows emerging roots to be established in a refreshed mix and gives the plant time to recover before dormancy. Annual or biennial spring repotting provides a fresh, aerated mix to prevent congested roots, promote healthy growth, and encourage new blooms.

Periodic repotting is essential for keeping pot-bound epiphytic orchids thriving indoors.

7 Ways on How to Repot an Orchid 

repotting orchid

We recommend waiting for an appropriate time to repot your orchid. You can do this in the active growth phase during spring or early 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.

Remove the Orchid From Its Pot

repotting orchid

How to repot an orchid with air roots differs 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.

Watering your plant 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 need 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.

Remove the Old Potting Medium

repotting orchid

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

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 them longer to ensure all the medium is off the roots.

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 unnecessary. 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.

Sterilize Orchid Roots

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

Gather Materials for Repotting Your Orchid

Repotting an orchid may sound daunting, but it only requires a few essential supplies.

  • High-quality orchid bark mix – Avoid store brands that break down too quickly. Seek out specialty mixes from orchid nurseries online or locally.
  • Pot one size larger than the original.
  • Sterilized pruning shears or knife for trimming
  • Scissors or razor blades for leaves and roots.
  • Gloves to protect hands.
  • Use a thin dowel or blunt knife to settle the new potting mix.

Repot the Orchid Plant and Water

watering orchid

After disinfecting your orchid, clean and sterilize the pot it will be repotted into, whether new or reused. Select a pot that fits snugly around the roots or up to 2 inches larger.

Fill the sterile pot partway with fresh orchid potting mix. Gently place the orchid in the pot, taking care not to damage the aerial roots. Add more mix, covering the roots. Use your fingers to gently settle the mix without packing it too densely.

Once repotted, water the orchid thoroughly to settle the mix. Then, resume your regular orchid care routine. The fresh blend and larger pot will allow the roots to grow freely and support the plant’s healthy growth.

With a sterile pot, a high-quality mix, and a gentle repotting approach, your orchid has the best conditions to thrive in its new home.

Orchid Care Quick Guide

beautiful flowering orchid

  • Light: Orchids need bright, indirect light. East or west-facing windows are ideal.
  • Water: Water -2 times weekly, allowing the potting mix to dry out slightly between waterings.
  • Temperature & Humidity: Ideal temps are 65-85°F. Use a pebble tray or humidifier to maintain 40-60% humidity.
  • Fertilizer: Feed weakly weekly or biweekly with a balanced orchid fertilizer—flush pots monthly to prevent salt buildup.
  • Pruning: Trim dead roots and spikes after blooming. Use sterilized shears to avoid infection.
  • Potting: Repot every 1-2 years in fresh orchid potting mix. Divide overcrowded plants.
  • Pests & Diseases: Watch for common pests like mealybugs and scale. Isolate sick plants to prevent spread.
  • Blooming: Orchids bloom best when roots are healthy and getting proper care. Some rebloom on cycles.

Follow these basic guidelines to give your orchid plants the proper growing conditions to thrive and rebloom.

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