How to Repot Your Orchid to Keep It Healthy and Happy

Got roots trying to escape their container? Or are the leaves getting top-heavy? These essential tips will help you repot your orchid the right way.

Like other houseplants, orchids will eventually start to grow roots out of their container, or even grow so big that they'll become a little top-heavy for the pot they're in. Don't worry, all that growth is a good thing! It means that your orchids are thriving because you've been taking good care of them. But it also means that it's time to move your plants into larger containers and give them some fresh potting mix. However, orchids are a little different than other houseplants when it comes to the best type of potting mix and container to give them. Plus, these plants are somewhat fragile to handle, so it's important to take the right steps when repotting to avoid damaging the leaves or roots. Here's how to ensure your orchids will settle in well to their new pots.

trimming orchid roots
Carson Downing

How to Find the Best Orchid Potting Mix

In the wild, rather than sinking their roots into the soil, most orchids normally grow in trees, perched high above the rainforest floor. You can replicate that environment with a special orchid bark mix that's available at garden centers. It provides the quick drainage and plentiful pockets for air that orchid roots require. Mostly, though, it helps anchor plants in pots so they can grow upward. You can also use sphagnum moss, which will help keep the roots moist a little longer between waterings.

How to Choose Orchid Pots

There are specific pots on the market created just for orchids. They're full of holes to expose the roots to more air. However, no special pot is needed; a terra-cotta or plastic pot will work just fine for most orchids. Choose a pot that's 1 inch (at the most 2 inches) larger in diameter across the top than your present pot. The time to transplant orchids is just after they bloom, when new roots have appeared but haven't grown longer than a half-inch, or when the roots start to crawl out of the pot.

orchid pot
David Land

How to Repot an Orchid

Before transferring your orchid, make sure to water it well to help it tolerate any stress from the move. It's also a good idea to wash your hands and sterilize pruners to avoid spreading any diseases between your plants. Then follow these steps:

  1. Gently pull the orchid out of its pot by grasping it as close to the roots as possible; avoid pulling it out by a single leaf, which could break.
  2. Carefully loosen the roots and remove as much of the growing medium (bark or moss) from the roots as possible.
  3. Trim off any dead roots, which will be soggy, shriveled, or colored brown or black.
  4. Place your orchid into the new pot and add fresh potting medium around it, tapping the pot firmly on a table or other flat surface to distribute the bark or moss evenly around the roots.
  5. When the orchid is anchored into place, arrange a layer of orchid potting mix over the top of the roots and water well.

Once your orchid is settled in its new pot, you can keep caring for it like you normally did before. Make sure you have it in a spot that gets bright, indirect light, and water when the potting mix is just about to go dry. Some orchids can grow for one or two years before they need repotting again, so you can sit back and enjoy its beautiful blooms for a while before needing to repeat this process.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can orchid potting mix be reused when repotting an orchid?

    Orchid bark potting mix shouldn't be reused when repotting an orchid because, over time, it loses its ability to recirculate air and drain water due to decomposition. New orchid bark must be used for repotting.

  • When is the best time to repot an orchid?

    It's best to repot orchids in spring or summer, right after they flower. You'll know it's time to repot when you see crowded roots growing out of the bottom or through the topsoil of the pot. Repotting every one or two years is usually needed.

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