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Repotting Orchids

Q. The roots of my phalaenopsis orchid are growing over the rim of the pot. Does this mean I need to repot the plant?

A. Many varieties of orchids enjoy being slightly potbound. However, if they are overly confined, they might fail to bloom. Choose a pot size that accommodates the size of the plant’s roots rather than one that reflects the size of the foliage and flowers. Signs that indicate it’s time to divide and/or repot your orchid include:

  • poor or no flowering within the past year
  • fir bark medium that has broken down into powder
  • the roots of the orchid actively growing — indicated by new green tips on plump white roots
  • the orchid not having been repotted in two to three years

The best time to repot an orchid is when it has finished flowering. Choose a plastic pot (which does not dry out as quickly as clay) one size larger than the previous pot. Use this opportunity to replace the old fir bark potting medium with a fresh mix.