Repotting Your Moth Orchid
Many people don’t realize that you need to repot moth orchids much more frequently than some of your other houseplants. In fact, 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 (say it with me…”fal-en-OP-sis”). I recently repotted two of my own and wanted to share with you how I did it. 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! It will die a slow death…you will become an orchid killer, and I will come hunt you down.
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.
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.
I bought the potting mix above at a local garden center, but you can order online anywhere or on Amazon Prime if you want to make things really easy. And look at the roots! They’ve gone batshit crazy. This is an indication that the plants need to be repotted. There is nothing wrong with some roots coming out of the pot, but these have gone out of control.
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.
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 completely dried up. The roots that are alive will be firm and plump.
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 orchidsupply.com. 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 thang!