March 16, 2015
Repotting My Orchids
Preparations for the spring planting season are well underway at my farm - seeds have been ordered and tools have been cleaned. Meanwhile, there’s a lot going on inside the greenhouses as well. Over the last few days, my gardeners, Ryan and Wilmer, have been keeping busy repotting my large collection of orchids.
Caring for orchids is a daunting process for many, but if you take time to understand their basic needs, and have all the proper orchid care supplies, there is no reason why they won’t continue to thrive and bloom in your home.
This is a good time to look closely at your orchids. If your orchid appears to have outgrown its pot, or its roots look to be overflowing, or if the potting material is noticeably old and soggy, it probably needs repotting. Here are some photos to show you how we do this process. Enjoy…
1 Here are some of my many orchids that needed repotting. Be sure to only repot after the last flowering bloom has completely faded.
2 Most orchid genera are epiphytic, meaning they grow on trees and rocks rather than in soil. Orchid roots need to breathe and therefore cannot live buried in dirt.
3 Here is a container of fir bark. In order to replicate the best environment for epiphytes, orchids are potted in mixes containing bark, charcoal, perlite and peat moss.
4 Perlite is also called sponge rock - the small white pieces you see here. Perlite helps improve aeration around the orchid's roots.
5 Here, Wilmer is mixing the fir bark with the rest of the mix containing charcoal, perlite and peat moss.
6 Wilmer makes sure it's all well-mixed so every repotted orchid has the right amount of each element. You can also use pre-packaged orchid potting mix which is available at nurseries and garden supply stores.
7 This is what a good mix looks like once it is ready to use.
8 Repotting helps orchids thrive. Some orchids need annual repotting, while others can go two to three years before repotting is necessary.
9 As you can see, this orchid will also need trimming to remove its dead leaves, so there is ample room for all the new growth.
10 Using very clean secateurs or shears, trim away the old, dead and shriveled leaves. If not diseased, the dead material can go into the compost.
11 Carefully remove the orchid plant from its pot, so the healthy roots aren't damaged in the process.
12 Break apart and remove the old potting medium from the bottom of the orchid, so the roots are exposed.
13 If necessary, continue to trim away any other dead or shriveled debris from the plant.
14 Cleaning up your orchid's root system will increase the air circulation to the healthy, live roots.
15 It is not unusual to see orchid roots growing in so many directions. In the wild, epiphytes are able to extend their roots looking for moisture. Managing the roots and the repotting process will ensure your orchid is healthy and strong.
16 Examine the roots closely. If you feel any roots that are soft and limp, they are likely dead and should be removed also.
17 This plant did need repotting, but it has a very heathy root system.
18 Orchid pots are specially designed to have a lot of holes for good drainage and aeration. Before repotting your orchid, make sure the pot is well-cleaned. I like to place clay shards into the bottom of the pot to help with drainage.
19 Place the shard over the hole in the bottom of the pot. Clay pots provide excellent plant environments because they are so porous. They allow proper aeration and moisture to penetrate through the sides and to the plant.
20 Here, Wilmer begins to put some of the new orchid mix into the bottom of the pot.
21 This orchid is also getting a bigger pot. If the orchid's roots are firm, full and healthy, and the plant appears to be growing well, it may be a good time to give the orchid a slightly larger home.
22 If the pot is too large, the growing material will stay too damp, possibly causing root rot. This orchid now appears to be in the right sized pot, don't you agree?
23 The base of the new growth should be level with the pot's rim. Surround the orchid with mix until it is secure - the newly potted orchid should not wiggle.
24 Tap the pot just a little to ensure the mix falls in and around the root coils. Fill the pot until the mix reaches just below the pot's rim.
25 Wilmer goes over the plant one more time, looking for any other dead leaves that need removing, before moving onto the next orchid.