I just love and adore orchids! They are so exotic in appearance and incredibly low maintenance! Any plant that thrives on neglect is fine by me! Since I was due to re-pot orchid child #2, I thought I might as well share it with y'all!
*Friendly Disclaimer: I'm not an expert, but this is what works perfectly for me after years of experimenting. Also, these directions apply to Moth orchids.
Pot (preferably terra cotta)
Planter tray (Humidity tray)
Orchid bark or sphagnum moss
Newspaper or plastic bags
Orchid stakes or bamboo skewers and clips
Easy access to water for constant rinsing
As with most things, this is really all about the prep work and just taking your time during the re-potting process. You will want to be able to give yourself at least 40 minutes for the re-potting process.
Super Important Prep Work Tips:
Must re-pot in a medium that the orchid was originally thriving in - orchid bark or sphagnum moss.
If using orchid bark, make sure to soak your new bark in hot water overnight.
Pots - terra cotta pots are best for breath-ability and for checking the plant's moisture. Avoid glazed or plastic pots without drainage holes.
Must sterilize the pot with boiling hot water. Orchids are very prone to mold and diseases. Make sure to sterilize any other tools, if you happen to share them with other plants.
Pick a pot that is shallow and wide - orchids prefer this set up best. Make sure it's a good couple inches wider than the original container.
How To Tell When It's Time:
-When orchid is leaning far over the side
-Lots of roots coming over sides and through drainage holes
-Orchid's growth has slowed down
-Orchid is sick
-Not in bloom*
*Wait until all the blooms have fallen before re-potting. Re-potting can cause shock to the plant, if it's in bloom it will drop them all.
Here's What To Do:
After sterilizing pot, tools, and soaking the orchid mix overnight - it's time to begin!
It's going to get messy! You may want to lay down newspapers, plastic bags, cardboard, or a drop cloth. Have all supplies near by and ready to go!
Gently cut away the old plastic pot or break the ceramic pot to release orchid. The roots like to grip the old pot so be careful!
Then, inspect the roots little by little. Gently untangle the roots and rinse with water. Pull away the old potting medium or as much of it as you can. Trim away any roots that are squishy, brown, or black and dead. Don't worry, you won't harm the orchid! This actually helps trigger your orchid to grow!
Now it gets tedious (at least for me)! Sprinkle just enough bark in the bottom of the new pot so your orchid's bottom leaves sit flush with the rim of the new pot. This might take a few times to get right. After its at the right level, pack as much orchid bark as possible around all the sides of the plant. Really, really pack it as much as you can!
Next, use bamboo skewers or orchid stakes and clips to help position the plant into place - as upright as possible. Mine love to lean, so if it happens, it's (im)perfectly okay!
Give a really thorough soaking to the pot! It'll be at least a week and a half or two before you will return to the normal watering schedule. What I love is how terra cotta pots feel cool to the touch when moist and weigh less as watering time draws near! This helps so much with monitoring these plants.
Time to set up the humidity tray underneath the pot. Fill the planter tray with pebbles or some large stones and position under the freshly watered pot. I usually just let the drainage water fill this up and dump it once a week when I water my orchid to keep the water fresh. This helps keep the air surrounding the plant nice and moist.
That's it! Woohoo! Orchids are slow growers, and you shouldn't need to do this too often - I'd say every 2-3 years.
Just a Note:
I often get asked where I keep my happy little orchids! I position mine in brightly lit areas as close to windows as possible. I make sure they are close enough to the glass to be able to feel changes in temperature, but not so close as to cause scorching. You never want the orchids in direct, unfiltered sunlight. It's important for orchids to feel changes in temperature, so it will trigger growth and re-bloom. They need to feel seasonal changes just like any outdoor plant, even though they reside inside our homes. I usually get blooms twice a year... late spring and late fall. I live in AZ, so depending on your climate it could be more or less!