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Illustrated Guide on How to Repot an Orchid

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Many people don’t realize that repotting orchids is a very necessary thing to do in order for your plant to remain healthy!  In this post I show you exactly how to repot an orchid.

Most people don’t realize that they need to repot, let alone know how to repot an orchid.  Let me subtly say…YOU NEED TO.  Keep reading, and I will show you a pictorial overview on how to repot orchids at home.  

In specific, how to repot Phalaenopsis orchids in bark. Whether your moth orchid is growing in a bark mix or in sphagnum moss, it will need to be repotted every year or two. 

I personally don’t do it every year.  Every other year would be a good rule of thumb.  But never repotting is not an option!

Why Repot Your Moth Orchid?

Why do you need to repot your moth orchid?  Well, the potting medium will start to break down and the orchid roots will not be able to get the air and nutrients they need.

Remember, moth orchids are epiphytes, meaning they grow ON other plants like trees in nature and they have a lot of air circulation.

How to Repot an Orchid

The best time to repot a moth orchid is right after it is done flowering and you cut the bloom spike off.  In order to repot your moth orchid, you’ll need a few supplies:  potting media (I use bark mix instead of sphagnum moss), clean pots, a bucket, and scissors. 

In the photo above, I have used the Hoffman Special Orchid Mix as the potting medium for my moth orchids. I found that the bark chunks are too big for my climate. It would be more suitable for greenhouse growing or if you live in a humid climate.

I have since switched to the Miracle Gro potting mix for orchids. I like this one much better and is easier to work with. It doesn’t dry out as rapidly as the Hoffman mix, but rapidly enough.

To this mix, I like to add a bit of activated charcoal and a little bit of sphagnum moss to hold in a little moisture since bark mix can dry out very quickly!

This will help to remove impurities and excess minerals from tap water and fertilizer salts as well. It will go a long way to ensure your orchids are happy!

Repotting in Orchid Bark

The first thing you need to do is to dump the bark mix into a bucket of water and soak in hot water. 

Let the bark mix soak for about a half hour.  The reason you want to do this is so you can properly hydrate the bark so it will more easily accept water. The bark needs some help to get started.

Clean Up Your Roots

As your bark mix is soaking, gently take your orchid out of its pot, remove all the bark off the roots carefully, and you’ll need to cut off any dead roots.

And don’t worry!  You are not harming your plant!  Orchids are tough broads.  Tougher than you think.  Notice in the picture above, I’ve already cleared out all the old bark, and I’m cutting off the dead roots.  

Take a pair of scissors (preferably sterilized with alcohol or in a flame), and cut off any dead roots.  

You’ll know they’re dead because they may be hollow or squishy, or maybe they are completely dried up.  The roots that are alive will be firm and plump.

Place Your Orchid In a New Pot

Next, take your orchid that you’ve cleaned up and select a pot just big enough that the roots fit in.  I ordered some clear plastic pots from www.orchidsupply.com or you can get the clear orchid pots on Amazon as well.

I like clear plastic pots because I can easily look at the roots and monitor the health of the root system.  You can quickly see if anything is going wrong.

In the picture above, I carefully placed my orchid in the pot.  Try not and harm any of the roots, but it’s no big deal if you do.  As long as the majority of them are unharmed.

After this, take the bark mix that has been soaking in the hot water for half hour, scoop some with your hand, and place it in the pot a little at a time.  

You’re going to have to gently use your fingers to pack the bark mix in the pot.  Sometimes I use a thin bamboo stick to push the bark mix in.  Just be gentle and try not and break any roots.  

Move as much bark as you can fit in between all the roots.  If needed, before you put the plant in the pot, you can put some bark mix at the bottom too if there is room.  Just make sure the plant is stable and not coming out of the pot.

And voila!  You’ve now repotted your orchid.  Give your orchid a good soaking of water in your sink, and place it back on your window.  

I also repotted a small mini-cattleya orchid (pictured in the middle above). Lastly, slip your plastic pot inside a more decorative pot to add your finishing touch.  Now let nature do its thing!

If you’d rather watch a video on how to do this, I created a YouTube video where I also include additional tips! Take a look!

For more information on how to care for your moth orchid, click HERE for some general growing tips on moth orchids, and click HERE to read about how to care for your orchid after it is done blooming.

Lastly, click HERE to download my eBook, Moth Orchid Mastery, which was a #1 New Release on Amazon.  It contains practically all my knowledge on moth orchids, and I know that it will make you a successful grower! 

Do you have any moth orchids at home? Comment below!

Please do me a favor and share this post to social media because it will help me spread the Ohio Tropics houseplant care tips to the masses! Also, check out my shop on Amazon for all your houseplant care needs:

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Rogue

Sunday 3rd of January 2021

Thanks for the great video!!! Currently, I have quite a few aerial roots that I thought were going to bloom, but I just learned they are roots.. (thank you for that!!) Do I leave them? Or can I try and get them to grow downward without it damaging the root?

Raffaele

Monday 4th of January 2021

Glad you enjoyed it! You can just leave those aerial roots. You don't want to bother trying to direct them when they are too small or they will break. Once they are longer, you can try and carefully direct them to the potting medium so that they can start to grow into it. For any exposed roots, it's a good idea to mist them regularly so that they get watered, otherwise they will dry up over time. Hope this helps!

Raffaele

Monday 4th of January 2021

I would leave them. Once they get a little longer, you can try and gently direct them to growing into the potting medium, but they can break easily so just be careful. In the meantime, you can just mist the exposed roots so that they don't dry up. I have plenty of aerial roots on my plants. Often times, I will just wait until I repot them and insert them into the potting medium them. Hope this helps!

Cheryl

Wednesday 28th of October 2020

When repotting my moth orchid what do I do with the arial roots? Do I force them into the pot, cut them off or just leave them hanging on the outside of the pot when I repot it? I’m new at this repotting stuff.

Raffaele

Thursday 29th of October 2020

Hi Cheryl! That's a great question. When you repot, if you can insert those roots carefully into your potting medium, this is best. Sometimes that's difficult to do without breaking them. In that case, there is nothing wrong with exposed roots on these plants. This is how they grow in nature. But you should mist those exposed roots every day or two so that they don't dry up and die. Hope this helps!

Linda Cavanaugh

Wednesday 17th of June 2020

When repotting orchids can you remove the aerial. I have one plant that has a lot.

Raffaele

Thursday 18th of June 2020

Hi Linda! I would not remove the aerial roots. If you can not get them easily into your potting medium, just leave them out in the air. There is nothing wrong with that! You can mist the aerial roots to water them and make sure that they don't dehydrate.

Anita

Sunday 29th of September 2019

Hi. Tks for very informative information regarding moth orchids.Mine has been blooming from early April through mid August. It is now done blooming, but a new flower spike is starting to show as well as several new roots. I have cut off the spent flower stem at its start. I feed it a liquid Miracle grow fertilizer and give it two ice cubes per week. Seems to be working for me.

Raffaele

Monday 30th of September 2019

Hi Anita, I'm glad your enjoyed the post. If it works for you, don't change anything. But over time you may find that the ice cube method will not work anymore. I never recommend using the ice cube method to water, but just keep a close eye on the health of the plant. At some point, you may choose to stop using ice cubes.

Wanda

Wednesday 14th of August 2019

Hi. Lowes sold Moth orchid this year as an air plant. On a hanger My fiancé bought one for me because he knows I love orchids. It seems to be doing ok. I follow directions and mist it daily. My question is, was this just an expensive novelty that will never reblossom or do I just need to be patient. Also is there a fertilizer you recommend that I might spray it with and how often. I am thinking I also need to clip out the roots that have died. I didn’t due to the fact that healthy ones are intertwined around them. Thank you. Love your article here

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Wednesday 14th of August 2019

Hi Wanda, you are very welcome! I have other blog posts on my site about orchid care so feel free to check those out as well. They will rebloom for you! As far as fertilizer, Miracle Gro does make an orchid spray, but I don't use it. I fertilize dilutely with most waterings. No pressure at all, but I wrote a very short book on moth orchid care called Moth Orchid Mastery if you are interested. It is available on Amazon in eBook, paperback or audio book. It has everything that you need to grow these plants and is a quick read. Good luck with your moth orchid!