Many individuals love to have plants in their homes. One of the most glamorous you can grow indoors is an orchid (phalaenopsis orchid). While they look great, you need to make sure certain things are in place for them to thrive.
One of the key things to get right is orchid potting, as this varies compared to other plants considerably.
In our guide, you can learn all about orchid repotting, and we show you all the steps of the repotting process to make sure you give your Phalaenopsis orchid or moth orchids the best chance to grow healthily. (Read Best House Plant With White Flower)
When Should You Report Orchids?
An orchid is a near-perfect houseplant. They look glamorous, long-lasting, and easy to care for once you get the growing conditions right.
One thing you will discover is that after a few years of growth, they can outgrow their pots. Because of this, it is best to look at repotting your orchid and giving it a new home.
An orchid plant typically needs to be repotted once per year, so it is a regular task. You will also find the right time to repot is after flowering or when new growth starts.
Here you can learn the signs to know it’s the right time to repot:
- Tightly tangled roots. It is common for Phalaenopsis orchids to grow with loosely tangled roots. You’ll see this as a clear indication your orchid needs to be repotted.
- You haven’t repotted: Once you grow orchids, you’ll learn they require a new potting mix each year. These nutrients will be depleted in the old one, and they can become compacted and lead to root rot. The fresh potting mix allows for better air circulation, drainage and more nutrients.
- Orchid roots are brown and soft: If you haven’t repotted or left it too long, you’ll find your orchid holding too much water. As a result of this, the roots take on a brown and soft feel. Once you add fresh orchid potting mix, you will give your plants the right environment and good drainage it requires.
How Do You Repot an Orchid for Beginners?
Repotting an orchid plant is vital to maintain optimal orchid health. It is a chance to exchange a decomposed and salt-saturated potting mix for a top-grade potting mix. Every one to three years is a good time to repot an orchid.
Materials needed for repotting orchids
- A bowl filled with warm water for cleaning and soaking roots
- Sterilized pruning shears or sharp scissors to cut old roots or dead plant matter
- Garden gloves
- A new pot for your orchid
- Fresh potting media
- Plant stake
Choosing Orchid Pot
Orchids like to be crowded in their pot, so pick a pot slightly larger than the one you are removing your plant from. If pots are too large, then orchids won’t bloom as well.
Pots Need Good Drainage
Orchid pots need good drainage, and you find your choice of growing medium can improve this. If pots are too large, the middle stays damp and can lead to root rot. Orchids grow best in well-draining potting mixes. (Read How to Hang Plants From Ceiling)
The pots need plenty of drainage holes as the water would accumulate in the bottom.
How to Re-Pot Orchids
- Look for new growth
- Select a pot based on the phalaenopsis orchid root volume & growing environment
- Make sure to use high-quality potting media.
- Gently remove the orchid from the old pot. You may need a clean razor blade to detach roots from the sides of clay pots.
- Inspect the roots and gently clean them of old soil. Use scissors to cut off old roots.
- Soak the roots to remove more dirt and make the roots flexible
- Add some new orchid mix in the new pot so the orchid growth will be level with the rim.
- Place the orchid roots inside and backfill the container with new soil
- You may need to fasten the plant stem to a stake until the flower stalk can support themselves. With the weight of the plant in a loose potting medium, the flower stalks could tend to lean to the side.
Scissors, razor blades, and other equipment should be sterilized in a 10% bleach solution.
What Potting Mix is Used for Orchids?
Creating Your Own Media
Instead of purchasing orchid-growing media for orchid repotting, you can easily make your own orchid potting mix by mixing different organic materials. You can repot your orchid in a wide range of materials, including fir bark, sphagnum moss, perlite, coconut husk chips, or any mixture of these materials and many other coarse materials.
A good example of this being 3 parts of fir bark, 1 part perlite, and 1 part chopped sphagnum moss. You can also use a potting mix of 80% fir bark and 20% coarse sphagnum peat.
Do I Need Special Soil for Orchids?
Repotting an orchid is among the most significant part of plant care you need to undertake. Orchids are like a different type of potting medium compared to typical houseplants. You find this as orchids are epiphytes or better known as ‘air plants,’ and live on the surface of other plants, trees, or rocks.
A typical houseplant is terrestrial, where plants grow from the ground and thus potted in regular potting soil.
Repotting into regular soil would suffocate and kill your plant, as soil won’t offer sufficient airflow for the roots to survive.
Orchid potting mediums need to offer a few things.
- Plant Stability
- Providing Moisture
- Lots of Aeration
The medium needs to offer stability in the pot for your orchid to cling onto using its roots.
The medium needs to hold moisture for the orchid to absorb.
The medium has to offer sufficient airflow for the roots to breathe
Different Orchid Potting Mediums
Here are some potting mediums you will find used by expert orchid growers as part of their routine orchid care.
Fir bark may be the most common potting medium as it is widely available and inexpensive. It also offers excellent drainage and airspace. However, Fir bark isn’t very good at holding moisture, so it may need more frequent watering than other mediums to the point of soaking when watering.
Fir bark can be found in different-sized nuggets, from small to medium and large. The smaller ones are better suited for smaller orchids that have fine roots, such as mini orchids.
Larger pieces are obviously better for larger plants with bigger roots. The medium can be a good option if you’re not sure which to go for.
Once you use this, you’ll find fir bark decomposes quickly as it is organic, and you could need to replace this every one or two years.
Sphagnum moss is yet another great potting medium. It retains air and a decent amount of water. Sphagnum moss is perfect for mini-Phalaenopsis orchids since they are often in smaller pots and need more regular watering than typically sized orchids.
Many orchid growers use sphagnum moss to blend other orchid potting mediums for its water-holding qualities, such as clay pellets. (Read How Often Do You Water Indoor Plants)
Coconut husk and coconut fiber is great water holding growing medium. Therefore, it’s perfect for plants requiring extra moisture and ideal for dry growing environments.
Chunks are lightweight when dry and provide excellent airflow to the roots. You need to soak any coconut well before use, so you can wash the dust away and make sure it holds as much water as possible.
Lava rock is a quick-draining orchid medium that won’t rot or decompose. Rocks are heavy and only hold a little water.
Lava rocks are found in different sizes, and you’ll find the larger the rocks, the larger the space between the rocks offers larger air pockets. Although it is great for air, they absorb less water. They may not be suitable in cooler climates as a potting medium as they possess a cooling quality.
Inorganic Growing Mediums
Perlite is a volcanic glass that has been popped up like popcorn. They look like small sugar granules. They retain a lot of water and are very lightweight. Perlite won’t decompose or compress, making them ideal to stop growing mediums compress or compact in organic growing mediums.
Since perlite possesses high water retention, you shouldn’t use this as the sole growing medium. Perlite is reusable so long as you boil and sterilize it before reusing it. (Find Plants That Repel Ticks)
Leca is expanded clay pebbles or clay pellets, and Seramis is clay granules. Like perlite, these are both inorganic and won’t decompose or compress. While they don’t hold too much water, they offer lots of airflows and improve drainage.