Repotting Orchids in Four Easy Steps

repotting orchidsWhile repotting orchids is not that hard, you will find that the process for this particular flower varies from other types of plants and sometimes this may cause you to avoid the task. This is exactly what you don’t want to do as repotting orchids is a vital part of orchid care. If an orchid stays in a pot for too long, it will stop blooming and could even die.

The best time for repotting orchids that have pseudo bulbs is after a new growth has been produced and before new roots start to elongate

The best kind of potting medium is the commercially prepared mix that’s made from medium sized chunks of fir tree bark. If your orchid doesn’t have pseudo bulbs, like moth orchids (phalaenopsis) or slipper orchids (paphiopedilum) you can re-pot it any time you like, although you should avoid repotting orchids when they are flowering.

Repotting Orchids Step by Step


Because repotting orchids is a dirty job, you’ll need to cover the area you’ll be using with newspaper. Turn the plant upside-down so that the top is directly over the newspaper and gently tap the side and bottom portions of the pot to loosen it. If the roots are stuck to the pot, you may have some difficulty in getting the plant out. If this is the case, you can use a knife to carefully loosen up the roots. Don’t worry, you won’t damage the plant if you accidentally damage the old roots.

After the plant has been successfully taken out of the pot, gently separate the roots and remove as much of the old potting mix as you can. Don’t be too concerned if some of the old potting mix remains on the roots.


Before placing the orchid in the new pot, the roots need to be trimmed. You should use heavy scissors or small pruning shears to do this, and be sure to keep a sharp knife nearby just in case you need one. To avoid the spread of viruses that can affect your plants, you should use a cloth with rubbing alcohol to sterilize your tools.

Inspect the plant for dead or damaged roots, and get rid of them. You will be able to recognize dead roots by their mushy consistency and light brown color. Roots that are healthy have light-green tips, an indication that they are growing, are firm to the touch and white in color. Old, pseudo bulbs that don’t have any leaves will need to be cut off. You may very well see new growth or a “lead,” in which case you can create two plants by cutting the rhizome in half. Each division should contain a minimum of one new growth and three pseudo bulbs.


Carefully examine the size of your orchid plant, and then select a pot that will allow it to spread out and grow comfortably for about two years. If you intend to reuse an old pot you must first wash it well and allow it to soak for at least 30 minutes in a mixture that is 10% chlorine bleach. If the old orchid pot you are reusing is made of clay, give it a few days to air out. Or if it’s a new clay pot, soak it for a couple of minutes in water before you use it.

In order to thrive, orchids must be able to drain well, so it is necessary to add a substantial layer of foam packing peanuts or broken crockery pieces at the bottom of the pot. Wet your potting mix with boiling water, give it time to cool, and then let it dry a bit before using it. When you place a new division in a pot, position the older pseudo bulbs to one side, so that the new lead has plenty of room to grow. As you add the damp bark mixture to the pot, use your thumbs to firmly press it around the roots. Make sure that the top of the rhizome is at the same level as the surface of the bark.


Stake the orchid with either a piece of twine or a “rhizome clip” which easily attaches to the side of the pot in order to make sure the plant remains in an upright position while its new root system is becoming stabilized.

Place the orchid in an area that has light shade, you’ll then need to mist the plant and the bark’s surface two times a day until evidence of new growth is apparent. Once the roots have grown into the bark, you can move the plant into a location that gets more light, and start watering and fertilizing your plant as usual.

Once you’ve done the process a few times, repotting orchids will be a breeze.

If you want to learn more about repotting orchids, I’ve put together a free step-by-step email mini-course that will give you all of the essentials of orchid care so that you can get started right away and grow breathtaking orchids every time.

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