1 My orchid collection takes up space on two long tables in the greenhouse. Ryan McCallister, my gardener, surveys the scope of the repotting project.
2 These clay pots are made specifically for orchids. Many of these pots were hand thrown by master potter, Guy Wolff, http://www.guywolff.com/ or by his son, Ben. http://benwolffpottery.com/
3 Ryan came upon these great pots in the greenhouse basement. I think I found them at a tag sale. The natural clay material is porous and allows roots to breathe and the numerous drainage holes help protect against over watering.
4 Before reusing flowerpots, Ryan empties and scrapes each one clean.
5 He then scrubs the pots with a very mild bleach solution - 9 parts water to 1 part bleach - This will kill any disease organisms that may be present.
6 After rinsing, he allows the pots to air dry.
7 After removing the orchid from its pot, Ryan loosens and breaks apart all the old potting medium, exposing the orchid roots.
8 Using sharp secateurs, he trims away any roots and leaves that look shriveled. This may seem rather extreme, but orchids thrive with a good pruning and cleanup.
9 Unless things look buggy or diseased, in which case discarded, all of the old potting material and trimmings are added to the compost pile.
10 One by one, every phalaenopsis orchid in the collection, also known as moth or butterfly orchid, is pruned up and set aside for repotting.
11 For repotting orchids, Ryan uses a mix of bark, charcoal, and perlite, also called sponge rock, for it's absorbent qualities. The charcoal helps to filter out impurities.
12 This is the sphagnum moss, which was given a good soaking in water. Depending on the species, sphagnum plants may hold from 16-26 times as much water as their dry weight, which is why orchid growers like to use it.
13 Ryan blended the moist sphagnum with the bark mix.
14 You can see the difference between the lower, darker-colored roots and the upper, greenish aerial roots.
15 Ryan chose a slightly larger pot than what this orchid came out of.
16 The lower roots go right into the pot, while the upper aerial roots are threaded through the side holes and over the rim of the pot. Threading helps to anchor the orchid in its new home.
17 With the base of the orchid leaves even with the rim of the pot, the space around the roots is filled in with the potting mix.
18 Many of the phalaenopsis orchids have flower spikes and this repotting will give them a nice energy boost. Ryan supported the flower spikes with wooden sticks and orchid clips.
19 If you're new to growing orchids, phalaenopsis are readily available and quite tolerant - a very good choice for beginners.
20 When all the phalaenopsis were completed, Wilmer, Ryan's right-hand-man, went to work on the oncidium section. Like phalaenopsis, oncidium are epiphytic, meaning they grow on rocks or in trees - never in the ground.
21 Wilmer sprayed the roots with Physan 20 Orchid Disinfectant, which is used to control bacteria, fungus, virus and algae. It's a good preventative measure when repotting.
22 Each oncidium orchid was divided, making two or three new plants.
23 Like all orchids, oncidium do not like wet feet and are usually planted in a coarse, fast draining media.
24 Oncidiums are unique because they are equipped with a storage tank at the base of each growth called a pseudobulb. These pseudobulbs provide moisture to the plant during long dry periods in nature between rain showers.
25 Wilmer tamped the potting mix firmly into the pot, anchoring the orchid.
26 Watching my orchid collection grow like this is very exciting!
27 Orchids can give you many years of colorful blooms, if you maintain them correctly.