After 3 years of pretty amazing growth, the purple phal I inherited from my mother was climbing out of its container: the planting medium was so clogged with tree leaf debris, the roots had nowhere to go but up and over the side of the basket. Time to repot!
Healthy phalaenopsis roots are a plump whitish-grey and the newest ones have little green growing tips. “Bad” roots are brittle, brown and withered looking. Here’s a close-up to aid in the identification:
There are two things I suggest doing before repotting, and the first is pretty obvious: trim away the damaged/rotting brown roots until the new root zone looks like this:
Some orchid growers suggest cutting back the older, healthy roots (aka those without growing tips) to 4″ long, but I don’t do this for one simple reason: it isn’t natural! Phalaenopsis are epiphytes growing on tree branches without benefit of soil. In the wild, roots that aren’t acting as anchors, continue to grow and hang loose.
Phals grown in pots are very sensitive to salt build-up from water and fertilizers. Use this opportunity to flush the roots REALLY well.under rapidly running water. If your pruning was extensive, you may be able to place the plant back in it’s original pot; scrub it thoroughly first!
So you’ve done all this, and you’re finally ready to pot up! Place your orchid in the new container with the base of the lowest leaf about ½” below the pot rim, like so:
As you can see, I’ve fanned the roots out but haven’t used any medium this time: this is strictly because my zone is compatible with year round outdoor growing, and I’ll be hanging the container in my Bauhinia tree.
Keep adding medium until the mix is ½ to ¾ inch below the top of the pot. This helps facilitate rooting into the medium, not over the rim. Using your fingers, tamp the bark down lightly until it reaches the base of the lowest leaf.
The last step is to slowly water your orchid, with emphasis on the word SLOWLY! After all your hard work, you don’t want the bark jumping and flushing all over the place, right? Yup! This happened to me! 😮
Re-potting orchids isn’t as scary as I thought it was a few years ago! In fact, it’s really pretty simple!
Until next time…..
🙂 🙂 🙂