How to repot orchids

Do it:

Mar, Apr, May, Jun, Jul

Takes just:

20 minutes

Occasionally, orchids need repotting to refresh their expanding root systems. Most indoor orchids are epiphytes, meaning they naturally grow attached to a tree branch with their roots clinging to the bark. In order to mimic their preferred growing conditions, house plant orchids should be potted in a mix of moss, bark chips and perlite.

Orchids living on branches get soaked regularly by tropical storms, but the water quickly drains away, and orchid compost is similarly free-draining. Over the years however, the bark chips and moss begin to break down and compact, reducing drainage. This is the main reason why you need to repot orchids.

You will need

Plastic pot

Orchid compost

Secateurs or snips


Only repot orchids every two to three years, or whenever the plant becomes pot bound. Carefully lift the plant out of its pot and clean off the old compost. You may need to cut the pot open if it is pot bound.

Examine the root ball closely and trim off any dead or damaged roots using secateurs or snips.

If the roots have not fully filled the old pot, then it can be reused. Clean the pot using soapy water, then place the plant back in the pot and trickle orchid compost in between the roots, aiming to fill any spaces.

If the plant is pot bound, then move it into a pot one size larger. Position the plant in the centre of the pot, then fill around the root ball with orchid compost, making sure to also fill any gaps. Avoid using terracotta pots, as the orchid’s roots will fasten themselves to the surface, making it difficult to repot in future.

Feature by Dr. Ross Bayton


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