Tips for Repotting Orchids

Orchids are a lot easier to grow than you may think.

Orchids are a lot easier to grow than you may think.

Unlike slow-growing houseplants that may seldom need repotting, moving an orchid into a new pot is part of the routine of growing it. The young orchid, depending on how fast it grows, may need to be repotted every six months, while the established orchid can wait a year and a half to two years. Some orchids grow faster than others in cultivation, so keep an eye on your orchid’s roots to determine when it’s time to repot.


Use care when removing your orchid from the pot. Hold the terrestrial roots under gently running water to remove the planting medium. Use your fingers to gently remove the medium from the epiphytic roots. It’s not important to remove the entire medium, just enough to be able to inspect the roots. Look for roots that are discolored or soft, and snip them from the plant using sterilized garden snips.

Container and Medium

Choose a container that is one size larger than the one in which the orchid is currently growing. Ensure that there are drainage holes in the sides or bottom. Remove and discard the tray on the bottom of the pot that is meant to catch excess water, as this water may kill the orchid. Epiphytic orchids can be planted in baskets or pots, as long as the planting medium is appropriate. Any loose medium that doesn’t retain water is ideal for orchids. A mixture of bark, sphagnum peat moss and sand will drain quickly yet hold enough moisture for the orchid.


There is no magic in repotting an orchid -- it is a plant, so treat is as such. Ensure that the planting medium is coarse and free-draining. Place a bit of it on the bottom of the container, put the roots in and fill around it. Don’t pack the medium, as the roots require air to keep from rotting. Gently press the orchid into the medium just enough to anchor it. Although it is tempting, don’t bury the aerial roots. Water the orchid slowly after repotting, until the water drains from the bottom of the pot.


It may be tempting to over-care for the orchid after repotting, but that is the worst thing you can do. Place it in a somewhat shady spot and avoid the urge to water it. Allow the roots to recover for at least five days to one week. When you notice new roots, begin watering the orchid by saturating the medium and then allowing it to drain. Begin fertilizing the orchid when you notice new foliage.

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