Repotting My Orchids

Martha Stewart
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Winter is a good time to pay some extra attention to your indoor plants. It can be easy to neglect them during the summer when you are so busy outdoors tending to the lawns, trees, perennials, and vegetable gardens. But come winter, I enjoy spending time in my greenhouse where it’s warm, humid, and lush with plant life.

I love orchids, and over the years I have amassed quite a collection. Many of them have been growing in the same pots for several years; they have roots protruding and wrapping around the outsides of the pots in search of nutrients. I think it would benefit them to have larger pots and a fresh planting medium.

scooping-mulch-MSL-420x280The orchid family is the most numerous in the plant kingdom, with 30 to 40 thousand known species. There are two types of orchids—terrestrial, which grow on the ground, and epiphytes, which establish themselves above ground, such as in trees—and they require a special potting medium and pots that have plenty of drainage and air circulation.

This is a phalaenopsis potting media. It contains medium fir bark, medium charcoal, medium perlite, and chunky peat moss, all of which provide excellent drainage. Orchid media should be soaked in water for several hours or overnight before using.repotting-orchids-MSL-560x373

Orchid roots need a lot of air circulation and some specialized orchid pots like this one have air holes.

With sterilized shears, any dead roots are cut away. This helps to increase air, water, and nutrient circulation for the live roots.

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It’s important to give the used pots a good soaking in warm sudsy water, then a scrub with a stiff pot brush. This will remove any pests, fungus, or diseased matter that may be clinging to the pot and could infect the next plant grown in it.

A handful of soaked potting media is added to the pot. With each handful added, the blunt end of a stick is used to tamp the media down and around the orchid roots. This helps to securely anchor the orchid in the pot.

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Finally the newly potted orchids get a thorough watering. This helps the roots and media to ‘settle’ in.

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