London (change)
Today 16°C / 9°C
Tomorrow 15°C / 11°C

How to repot orchids

Overview

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.


How to do it

Repotting orchids: lift the plant out of its pot

1

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.


Repotting orchids: remove any dead roots

2

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


Repotting orchids: fill with fresh orchid compost

3

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.


Repotting orchids: plant pot-bound orchids in larger pots

4

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




Discuss this project

Talkback: How to repot orchids
Your comment will appear after a quick registration step

YewJay 12/07/2013 at 09:17

I understood that Orchids should always be potted in clear pots as their roots require light. If this is not so please explain why.

mazza21 25/02/2014 at 11:38

I have a phaleonopsis orchid which needs repotting. It has several healthy but very long (28cm)roots trailing over the edge of the pot and I'm not keen to trim them off. I'm sure that they will snap if I try to tuck them into the new pot. Please can anyone advise me of the best action. Thanks

landgirl100 25/02/2014 at 13:38

Just let them trail over the edge of the new pot. You can cut them off when they go brown and dry.