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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, you can read my general growing tips on moth orchids, and also read about how to care for your orchid after it is done blooming.

Lastly, my eBook, Moth Orchid Mastery, has helped thousands of people with orchid culture.  It contains practically all my knowledge on moth orchids, and I know that it will make you a successful grower! 

Looking to purchase a special Moth Orchid? One of my favorite and most convenient one-stop-shops to buy practically any plant is Etsy. Check out the Moth Orchid selection (link to Etsy) today!

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:

OHIO TROPICS PLANT CARE STOREFRONT

Cathy

Monday 15th of August 2022

Excellent video! I am excited to repot one from a friend who ALSO MOVED and one as a gift. Ages are over 5 years and probably 1-2 yrs old. So it is time to repot both. Thank you!

Raffaele

Wednesday 17th of August 2022

You're very welcome Cathy!

Naomi Grant

Thursday 28th of July 2022

I had an moth orchid bought for me when my husband died I call her Ophelia I cut the spikes off after the flowers died I do not know what the store puts it in the pot as a medium but I did not clear it out off the roots. I am using bark now. Should I take it back out and clear the roots or am I ok? I already have another leaf growing and it seems healthy. I bought your book but I didn't see the part about clearing the roots until to late. Is it to late with a new leaf growing? And why does everyone keep the roots crushed together? They are not that way in nature.

Tara

Saturday 2nd of April 2022

Your video and blog are so helpful, thank you for sharing! I have an orchid that has very droopy leaves but its blooming, the roots are wet so even though I didn’t think I did I must have over watered. Since it’s blooming is it ok to repot or do I wait?

Thank you, Tara

Tara

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

@Raffaele,

Thank you for replying, it looks like it’s in a moss mix, not bark and it does look like rotted roots. That was a great article, which led me here. I bought an orchid bark mix to repot when I need to. I’m not sure what to do about the rotting roots though. I bought it from Costco, and it came this way.

Thanks again, Tara

Raffaele

Sunday 3rd of April 2022

You're very welcome Tara! Let me refer you to my droopy orchid post. It may help: https://www.ohiotropics.com/2019/11/30/droopy-wrinkled-orchid-leaves/. And I would avoid repotting right now. It's best done after blooming. As long as your potting mix isn't broken down (assuming it's growing in bark), you should be OK to wait. Have you observed any rotted roots? If you haven't, it has not been overwatered.

Lidman

Monday 14th of March 2022

Thank you for the video. It really helped. I learned a lot why my orchid is looking very unhappy and dropping flowers before fully blooming and the environment it should be in. I'm now ready to give it a fresh start. I had a hard time finding good potting mix - the smaller bark pieces. The local nurserys had only the big chunks, and nothing at the big box stores. A friend that owns a nursery a couple towns away is dropping by a bag tomorrow. He offered a lot of his personal advice, and even offered to help repot and check my plant. But I replied, Ha! After this 11 minute video i'm now an expert! If this one survives i'll be looking for a 2nd orchid. ( And, I'll be sure to let you know if I should've taken his advice, or not! ). Thank you again!

Stacy

Friday 31st of December 2021

Thank you for this. I have been trying to figure out what is going on with my orchid. It is blooming beautifully. The blooms have been going strong for a few months and are still strong. The only trouble I’m having is the flowering branch or the long stem where the flower branch shoot out is turning yellow and dying. I have never repotted the plant and I think that is the cause. I’ve had the plants for 4 years and I get new blooms every 4 months. It irritates my mother since she cannot get her’s to bloom. Based on what I have read and watched it sounds like I should wait until the blooms fall off then repot the orchid. I will give this a try. Thank you again for the help.

Stacy

Friday 31st of December 2021

@Raffaele, just wondering, usually after you cut the flower spike, how long does it usually take to grow a new spike?

Raffaele

Friday 31st of December 2021

Hi Stacy! I'm glad you enjoyed the post. It sounds like your plant has had a good run! No worries though. If the flower spike yellows completely, just cut it off. It will grow new ones with time.