Repotting Orchids

Repotting Orchids

Should I change the pot or container?

Within the care of orchids , perhaps one of the tasks that most doubts generates is when and how to transplant an orchid. 
All plants need to be transplanted from time to time, to improve their health status, growth and flowering. 
Orchids are not an exception, on the contrary, transplanting orchids from a pot is a routine task that, depending on the variety of the orchid, should be done once a year or at least every two years. 

The changes of pot only have to be made when the plant needs it, and being careful not to provide an excessively large pot, because if not, the plant concentrates on taking roots and does not flower. 

It is not a good idea to transplant when it is about to bloom, you could cause stress to the orchid and lose the flower buds. 


Table Of Contents

  • 1 When is the best time to transplant an orchid?
  • 2 Which substrate is best for orchids?
  • 3 Does the orchid flowerpot have to be transparent?
  • 4 Materials and sizes of the pots for the orchids
  • 5 Step by step: How to transplant an orchid
    • 5.1 Prepare the substrate mix
    • 5.2 Clean all the elements necessary for the transplant
    • 5.3 Take the orchid out of the old flowerpot
    • 5.4 Transplant the orchid
  • 6 What to do with the orchid after the transplant?

When is the best time to transplant an orchid?

Orchids are always, always, always transplanted before they begin their period of greatest growth, spring, so the ideal is to do so before the end of winter. 
Another categorical statement, never, never, never transplanted in full bloom , we run the risk of all the flowers falling. 
Transplants must be done frequently, at least once every two years . In some very fast growing varieties, transplantation may be necessary once a year. 
The best way to determine the right time is to use the old technique of observation:

  • One of the parts of the orchid that grows most are its roots, especially the Phalaenopsis orchid . 
    It is very common to see some root growing above the substrate and outside the pot, but when it gives the feeling that there are more roots outside the pot, than inside … it is clear that we need a change of pot Urgent!

It may be the case of not having many roots outside the pot, but we note that the roots cover the entire interior of the pot. Another warning signal to change the pot.

repotting orchids

Most orchids (epiphytes) live in their natural habitat on branches of trees or other plants without parasitizing them, that is, they use them only for support. This means that their roots are outdoors or clinging to the bark of trees. The orchids that we usually acquire in garden centers, such as those of the genus Phalaenopsis, come in small containers that support the plant and are usually made of transparent plastic so that light can reach the roots. 
If you have been given a gift or bought an orchid that is in bloom, you should never transplant it in this period because it would mean the loss of flowers. The transplant, if carried out, must be carried out during the rest periods of the plant (normally at the end of winter). 
Also try not to place the plant inside an opaque decorative pot since it would prevent the arrival of light to the roots. 
When should I perform the transplant of an orchid? 
Orchids are usually comfortable with roots in small containers and, in fact, may be a factor that stimulates flowering. In addition, the orchid can generate aerial roots that we must respect. These aerial roots are much more resistant to attacks by fungi or others as they are not subject to waterlogging or excessive humidity and can easily dry between irrigation and irrigation, which is more like what happens in their natural habitat. 
However, there are two circumstances in which we should transplant: 
1 – When the container has been too small and the roots appear outside the pot.
In this case, we should evaluate the possibility of placing a slightly larger container, taking into account the characteristics of our orchid. Avoid ceramic containers because they are porous and can retain mineral salts that in contact with the roots can cause their death. Use only substrates based on vegetable bark and others that are sold specifically for orchids. Do not compact the substrate and allow part of the roots not to be completely covered to receive the light. 
2nd – When our orchid is sick by an attack of bacteria, fungi or others and the roots are damaged. 
In this case we should proceed to cut the diseased parts, disinfect and provide a new container.

  • Another possibility is that we see roots that are very deteriorated, dry or worse, brown. 
    In these cases, although it is not completely necessary to change the size, if it is necessary to prune the roots to clean them , it is convenient to change the substrate, because it is possible that a large part of the problem has to do with the deterioration of the substrate.
  • A change of pot is necessary when the substrate is deteriorated. 
    Orchids need a very light substrate, which allows air to pass through . If the substrate becomes caked, the orchids will suffer. 
    The substrate not only cakes with time, it also ends up retaining mineral salts , some coming from irrigation and others from fertilizers. 
    These salts are lethal to the roots and substrate change is mandatory.

Step by step: How to transplant an orchid

Once we have reviewed all the necessary materials, we will start to transplant an orchid step by step. 
We need to have at hand:

  • The orchid we are going to transplant
  • The new flowerpot
  • The compound
  • A few pruning shears or a sharp knife
  • Gloves

Prepare the substrate mix

The first task we are going to carry out is the preparation of the substrate. 
If we have bought the substrate already prepared, perfect, if we are going to prepare it ourselves based on our own recipe, we must proceed to the mixing of all the elements. 

Once we have the preparation, we measure the amount that we will need, filling the new pot with the compost. 
Prepare a good-sized container, where we will pour the preparation. We will add hot water to the compost. 
This step is carried out with two objectives, the first is to eliminate all the dust that the mixture may have and the second one to hydrate the substrate before proceeding to the transplanting of the orchid. 
We let it rest a few hours, so that it hydrates very well.

Cleans all the elements necessary for the transplant

Orchids are quite susceptible to contracting diseases during the transplant. 
That is why it is convenient to use gloves when we are going to touch their roots , otherwise we have to have very clean hands. 
The scissors, the knife or what we are going to use to prune the roots, have to be very clean and disinfected. We can burn the leaf or use alcohol to disinfect. 
The pot also has to be very clean, it must be washed thoroughly before the transplant.

Take the orchid out of the old flowerpot

We proceed to remove the orchid from its old pot. This process must be done carefully, so as not to damage the roots. 
A good idea is to overturn the pot holding the orchid with your hand, most of the substrate will come off and you just have to pull the old pot.
If we observe that the roots are very close, a trick is to water the orchid by immersion for a long time. 
With the orchid out of the pot, we will proceed to check the roots, to detect those that are damaged or dead. 
We eliminate all the dry roots, those that have a brown color and those that seem soft and loose. 
We proceed tosuture the roots we have cut using charcoal powder or failing, cinnamon.

Transplant the orchid

The mixture of we have prepared compost, we must drain it very well, so that there is no water in the mixture. 
We check the pot, check that it has the necessary holes for drainage and place part of the substrate in the bottom. 
We put the orchid in the center of the pot, and continue filling with the substrate. 
We must avoid compacting with the fingers, it is better to give small lateral blows to the pot, so that the substrate is compacted. 
Ideally the orchid should be in the center of the pot, with the aerial part at the height of the edge and the roots completely covered with the substrate.

What to do with the orchid after the transplant?

It is advisable to leave the orchid for at least a week without watering, so that the cuts that we have infringed on the roots heal. 
You have to place it in a place that does not give direct sun, rather a shady and cool place. 
After the first week, we put the orchid back in its usual place and proceed with its usual routine of watering. 
As we have proceeded to make this change just before it begins its period of greatest growth, in a few weeks we can appreciate the effects of the new compost and the pot on the orchid. 
Remember that in spring is the best time to fertilize . Use fertilizers for orchids and follow the specific recommendations for each variety.

Don Burke

I am Don Burke, one of the authors at My Garden Guide.  I am a horticulturist that cultivates, grows, and cares for plants, ranging from shrubs and fruits to flowers. I do it in my own garden and in my nursery. I show you how to take care of your garden and how to perform garden landscaping in an easy way, step by step.I am originally from Sydney and I wrote in local magazines. Later on, I have decided, more than two decades ago, to create my own blog. My area of specialization is related to orchid care, succulent care, and the study of the substrate and the soil. Therefore, you will see many articles dedicated to these disciplines. I also provide advice about how to improve the landscape design of your garden.

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