How Do You Repot an Orchid for Beginners?

How Do You Repot an Orchid for Beginners?

You should repot your orchids every two to three years. Sooner or later the pot will become too narrow and the substrate will no longer supply nutrients. We tell you here how the plants can survive the procedure without damage.

When should you repot orchids?

In principle, it is possible to change the substrate of orchids all year round. Spring is particularly suitable, as this is when the plants are growing at full speed. They can take root quickly and regenerate well during this time.

If strong orchid roots are already growing out of the pot, you should not cut them off but repot the whole plant. With a freshly bought orchid, this is usually the case after about a year. The substrate should generally be renewed every two to three years.

Ideally, an orchid should not flower when it is repotted, as it should put all its energy into developing roots. With the newer, very flowering varieties of Phalaenopsis, however, it is sometimes difficult to find the right time. If necessary, you can cut off the entire flower stem at the base. If you find this too rough, you can do without. Vital specimens often simply continue to flower after the procedure.

The right pot

Transparent plant pots are often used to allow light to reach the orchid roots. However, experience shows that orchids also thrive in opaque (over) pots. However, with transparent pots you can observe the roots of the plant very well – too much water is quickly detected.

The water must always be able to drain away freely – so it is hardly possible without holes in the bottom of the pot. Glass vases for orchids may look decorative, but they are only suitable for particularly vigilant indoor gardeners. They should never be allowed to become waterlogged.

Cattleya orchids want a well-aerated root ball. They feel particularly comfortable in a water plant pot.

A new pot is not necessarily needed after the substrate has been changed – an orchid can often move back into its old pot. As dead plant parts are usually removed during this process, there is more space for the roots and soil afterwards.
Important: A new pot should only be slightly larger than the old one. There is a high risk of rotting if the new substrate is not sufficiently rooted. So it is better to choose something narrow than too wide!

Cultivating orchids without a pot?

You can actually cultivate orchids without a pot and substrate. Some plants are sold with a kind of ball on which they can be hung. Homemade solutions can also act as a support for the orchids, for example an old branch. However, the aerial roots and leaves must then be sprayed daily with lime-free water. For a sufficient supply of nutrients, a liquid fertiliser must also be misted with the water.
What substrate do orchids need?

Many tropical orchid species, including the popular butterfly orchid (Phalaenopsis), belong to the so-called epiphytes. These are perching plants that thrive exclusively on other plants and therefore do not need soil. The aerial roots of orchids are real multi-talents: they provide support on tall trees and absorb moisture and nutrients from the rainwater that collects on the thick tree branches. With the help of the chlorophyll they contain, they can even carry out photosynthesis.

In indoor culture, you should therefore only use a special orchid substrate. This contains many coarse components (bark material), which gives the roots enough air and light.

Repotting orchids: step-by-step instructions

Always proceed very carefully when repotting: The delicate plant should only be held between the leaf head and the root ball!

First carefully remove the orchid from its pot. If you want to reuse the pot, you should clean it immediately and rinse it with hot water.
Tip: Before potting out, you can place the plant in a lukewarm immersion bath so that the roots can be separated from the container more easily.
Now carefully loosen the old substrate from the roots. This requires a little patience and perseverance, as as much of the depleted material as possible should be removed.
Afterwards, take a close look at your orchid. Cut off dead and rotten parts of the root with clean, sharp scissors (disinfected with alcohol). Healthy roots can be recognised by their plump, light green or silvery shimmering appearance. If these are shortened, the cut wounds should be coated with charcoal powder.
Before potting, fill the bottom of the pot with a thin layer of substrate. When doing this, check that the plant fits in well.
Now position the orchid in the centre of the pot and gradually fill the pot loosely with the substrate. Do not put too much pressure on the roots. To ensure that no cavities remain, you can gently tap the pot on the table surface.

Do not water immediately after changing the substrate

Give your orchid a little rest! Immediately after repotting and for the next few days, it should only receive water from the spray bottle. Then water the plant regularly again or give it the usual immersion bath.