Repotting is enjoyable and exciting. And your orchid will be pleasing, particularly whether it has been two or more years since it was repotted. Not repotted an orchid before? We can repair it. Follow the process below:
1. Collect all the materials. A good fundamental orchid mix is made up of equal parts fir bark, charcoal and sponge rock (aka rough perlite). You can buy these things online from OFE International and Tropical orchid Products. They sell premium ready-to-use packaged orchid mixes too. Grower’s Tip: The organic constituent -in this case the bark- can make or damage the quality of an orchid mix, because that is the part that badly changes with repeated watering. The bark should be Douglas Fir or Pinus radiata, and should be without mold. Pinus radiata (sold as Orchiata) and kiln-dried Douglas Fir bark (sold as Rexius bark) continue to be effective longer than regular Douglas Fir bark. Fir bark frequently requires to be rinsed before in order to get rid of dust and sediment.
2. Select an orchid. The best time to repot an orchid for example, Cattleya is when the new shoot have the length of your pinkie. The new shoot denotes that the orchid has begun a new circle of growth, the ideal time to give new roots with fresh medium. We do repot every two years, because of the life span of fir bark mixes in the greenhouse. Any longer is requesting trouble a waterlogged mix which makes roots die. Grower’s Tip: Keep your eye on that new shoot while repotting! It is as easily damaged as new asparagus and if you break it, you will lose a whole season’s growth, including the flowers.
3. Reverse the orchid, make a hole in the rim of the pot against the table and .take the orchid out. Be careful to keep the new shoot away from the table when you do this. Grower’s Tip: ensure that water your orchids the day before to dislodge.
4. Take out the old mix. Hold the orchid by the pseudobulbs. With one hand and mildly poke the mix with your other hand in order to loosen it. Grower’s Tip: Expect to discover new yellow-tipped roots coming out near the base of the new shoot. Be careful not to damage them.
5. Take out the dead roots. Healthy roots are white and rather hard. Dead roots are grey/black and squashy. You can use scissors for cutting off, but be careful that viruses spread out to the consecutive orchids by using the same tool. Grower’s Tip: That’s a reason why using one razor blade per orchid. We wrap used blades in duct tape before removing them. When I separate a large plant, a sterilize kitchen knife can be used with a propane torch between plants. Grower’s Tip #2: See if the new shoot face up on the table. Don’t rest the orchid on its new shoot. Grower’s Tip #3: Orchid roots can take in tannins from the bark in the mix and seem brown on the surface. A brown root indicates healthiness. When in doubt, cut off across section–a healthy root shoud have a white core.
6. Wash the roots. I prefer to do this under a gentle flow of water at the sink. It softly takes the old bark hiding in inaccessible places out. And it frequently lets you know more dead roots that need to be cut off. If the roots are healthy you don’t need to take out all the mix –just about three quarters. If the roots are in bad shape, take out as much old mix as possible. Grower’s Tip: This is a proper time to watch carefully your orchid is formed. See how the vertical shoots (the pseudobulbs) are joined together by a horizontal stem (or rhizome, pronounced rye-zome). This will become vital in a few minutes.
7. Base a pot size on the size of the root mass, not the top growth. One inch larger all around is a lot. Orchids love to attach their roots to their surroundings. Let them. Grower’s Tip: An increasing in pot size isn’t always necessary. At times fresh mix and a clean pot of the same size is all that’s required.
8. Have the new shoot centered in the pot. See how to hold the older part of the orchid against the rim of the pot? That’s because the new shoot should be in the center where it will have a large quantity of room to grow over the next two years. Looks asymmetric, right? Exactly. The new shoot goes in the center. Hold the base of the new shoot around a half inch below the top rim. That’s the imaginary fill line.
9. While keeping the orchid in place with your left hand, add mix with your right hand in a small amounts at a time
10. Make more solid in using your fingertips. Note that to keep the new shoot uncovered.
11. Alternate adding mix and firming in.
The last soil level should be around a half inch lower the rim of the pot. The horizontal rhizome connecting the fully grown pseudobulbs should be seen clearly just above the soil line.
12. Fix a rhizome clip. A rhizome clip is an essential part of an orchid grower’s tool kit. It’s what keeps the orchid upright and stable while its roots are getting established. Grower’s Tip: There are two types of rhizome clips. The type above is for clay pots. The other type fixes to the circular edge of a plastic pot.
Finding a place is important. Place the straight part of the clip across the top of the rhizome between two fully grown pseudobulbs. Avoid putting it behind the tender new shoot directly. It should be perpendicular to the rhizome and depending on top. Hang the hairpin loop across the circular edge of the pot. And press down solidly with the heel of your hand.
All the remaining now is to water in your orchid. Provide it a nice deep drink and let it drain.
You will probably see that the new mix dries out quicker than the old mix. So it’s a good plan to check your orchid every day. To see if it’s dry. Provide it as much humidity as you can. In a 2-3 weeks you can start regular fertilizing again.