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How to Repot an Orchid (Without Killing It)

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How to Repot an Orchid (Without Killing It)

July 12, 2019

Congratulations, orchid lover! You’re one of an elite few who have managed to find the right balance of water, sunlight, date nights, and long walks on the beach to have a healthy relationship with your orchid. Not only is your orchid living, it’s thriving—and has outgrown the plastic pot in which you carried it home from the grocery store. It’s time to undertake the harrowing task of repotting your orchid. But fret not, we have a few tips to help you successfully transfer it to its new home (without killing it).

Read on to learn how to repot an orchid, step by step.

Photography by Leslie Santarina for Gardenista; styling by Ella Quittner.

How do I know when it’s time to repot my orchid?

An orchid ready to be repotted.
Above: An orchid ready to be repotted.

A sure sign that it’s time to repot your orchid is when you start seeing white roots growing out of the container. This means your orchid is too large for its pot and needs a new one. If your orchid’s roots are beginning to rot, this is another sign that repotting is necessary—this means that your potting material is no longer draining properly.

When should I repot my orchid?

The ideal time to repot the orchid is right after it finishes flowering, when you see new growth starting to appear.

Materials you’ll need:

  • New pot for your orchid (choose one that’s 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot)
  • Potting mix (for more on what type of potting mix to use for an orchid, see Gardening 101: How to Care for an Orchid)
  • Large bucket or bowl
  • Scissors

Step 1: Prepare your materials.

Place the amount of potting mix you’ll be using in the large bucket or bowl and cover it with about twice as much boiling water. Allow the mixture to come to room temperature, then drain the potting mix.

Orchids are very susceptible to disease as well, so be sure to sterilize everything that will come in contact with your orchid during the repotting process.

Step 2: Remove the orchid from its current pot.

Be careful not to break any of the roots when removing the orchid from its current pot.
Above: Be careful not to break any of the roots when removing the orchid from its current pot.

Carefully loosen each root individually, using scissors or a knife to help you if necessary.

Step 3: Clean up the roots.

  Use clean scissors to remove any dead or rotting roots.
Above:  Use clean scissors to remove any dead or rotting roots.

After the orchid is out of its pot, use your fingers and a clean pair of scissors to clean up the roots. Gently ease apart any that are tangled and clip away roots that are dead or rotten.

Step 4: Place the orchid in its new pot.

Add enough potting mix to the bottom of the pot so that your orchid&#8\2\17;s new growth will be level with the rim of the new pot.
Above: Add enough potting mix to the bottom of the pot so that your orchid’s new growth will be level with the rim of the new pot.

Place the orchid in the pot so that the new growth is level with the top of the pot.

Step 5: Add potting mix.

Add potting medium a little at a time, using your fingers or a chopstick to settle it around the roots. Continue adding potting mix until you reach the top of the pot.

Step 6: Stake your orchid.

Arrange your orchid blooms so that they are standing upright and stake them as you did previously.
Above: Arrange your orchid blooms so that they are standing upright and stake them as you did previously.

After your orchid is settled in its new home, care for it as you did before.

For more orchid tips, see Orchids: A Field Guide to Planting, Care & Design and our posts:

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