Repotting Orchids - Containers

Some people avoid propagating orchids and prefer to purchase full-grown orchids. However, even such people will require repotting their plants at some point or the other. The period between the end of flowering season of the orchids and prior to the emergence of the new growths is anything between 2 weeks and 6 weeks. In fact, this period is the best time to repot your orchids.

During this period, the orchids are in their extreme dormant phase and the plants will feel minimum disturbances if their roots are bothered or they are transplanted in new pots. You may also transplant your orchids successfully a little later, when the new growths have grown to a length of about 1 inch to 3 inches.

Orchids that are grown in containers measuring anything between 5 inches and 8 inches generally need to be repotted when they have started overgrowing their containers. Repotting may also be necessary when the growing medium has begun to decay and lose its texture on the surface.

On the other hand, if your collection includes larger orchids grown in larger containers, you should not disturb them for quite a few years till the potting material starts decaying and lose its texture. While repotting your orchids you should opt for new containers that would be able to sustain the growth of the plants for at least two years' growth, but not for more.

In other words, this means that you need to select a pot that is about 2 inches wider across than the previous one. Always remember that orchids put up their best performance when they are somewhat crowded. Nearly all orchid aficionados grow their valuable pots in various types of pots made from clay or plastic.

Each type of pots offers individual advantages. For instance, plastic pots are lighter and do not allow moisture to escape from its sides. As a result, it helps in lengthening the period of watering. On the other hand, clay pots have porous walls that enhance aeration around the roots of the plants.

At the same time, as evaporation takes place on the surface of clay pots, it helps to keep the roots cool. The greater the weight, the better the pots are to prevent the top-heavy orchids from tumbling. There are different types of clay pots too.

Some of them have a solitary hole at their bottom, while there are others that have pierces or slotted sides for more rapid and complete drainage. It is important that the water penetrates the growing medium quickly and air follows the water. If this does not happen, the roots will eventually deteriorate and die.

Orchid growers who find the common pots unappealing may purchase attractively made and glazed pots that have been created only for growing orchids. However, if you are growing orchids indoors, you can easily conceal the ordinary pots inside baskets or ornamental pots for displaying your plants on the coffee table.

You may also add a thin layer of sphagnum moss on the top of the potting mix for additional camouflage. However, ensure that even in this kind of arrangements; never allow the inner pot to remain in water that has drained out into the ornamental shell.

If you are growing your orchid in any wooden basket, they will provide additionally faster drainage. However, such types of baskets are necessary for some types of orchids that require very rapid drainage.

You may suspend these baskets horizontally or use them for orchids with trailing habit. They may also be used for orchids having vertically hanging growth. In addition, you may mount your orchids on cork bark slabs, totem poles of tree fern stem or on segments of small limbs of trees.

Potting techniques

When you are potting orchids, the first thing that you need to do is ensure that your containers are completely unsoiled. You should also properly scrub the broken clay pieces that are used for drainage use in scalding water or a 5-percent solution prior to using them.

In case, you plant to use osmunda as the potting medium, you need to soak it all night prior to cutting them into squares of 3-inches each. When you are transplanting your orchid to a bigger pot, first remove the plant from its existing container with utmost care.

Never try to exert force to pull out the plant from the old pot as it may severely damage the roots. After you have removed the orchid from the old pot, soak it in its original pot for some minutes and allow it to train systematically.

Next, tap the outside of the pot gently using a hammer or place the pot upside down and strike its edge against a table top. You may turn the pot as necessary to take the plant out of it.

Having removed the orchid from its old pot, remove all old flower spikes and old leaves, if any, and ensure that the plant is free from any type of insect infestation. If you wish to divide the orchid, this is the best time to do so.

Potting in containers

It is worth noting here that the growth of your orchid will largely depend on how you position it in the new pot after transplantation. In case of sympodial orchids, you need to place the orchid along with the oldest pseudo bulbs near to the rim of the pot, while the bottom of the rhizomes should be placed about ½ inch under the rim.

Moreover, you should place the bases of the newer pseudo bulbs parallel with the pot's bottom. This needs to be done even if it means that you are positioning the entire plant at a particular angle and not completely vertically. On the other hand, monopodial orchids should be positions right at the center of the pot.

The bottom of the lowest leaf of the orchid should be roughly ½ inch below the rim of the pot - right at the surface of the potting mix. While positioning the orchid in its new pot, you should also ensure that the roots of the plant are spread out properly.

The aerial roots of the plant, which can be bent down easily into the pot, should be covered by the growing medium. You may allow the other roots to remain outside the potting medium. Subsequently, fill the roots of the plant with fresh potting material, at times pressing the material down using a blunt-edged stick.

If you are using osmunda fiber as the potting material, you need to especially pack it tightly around the roots. Keep working from the pot's sides to its center till you have filled the pot up to ½ inch from its rim.

Planting in baskets

When you are preparing a basket to plant an orchid in it, the first thing that needs to be done is to place a thin layer of sphagnum at the bottom and subsequently place the plant in its place, like you would have done if you were using an ordinary container to place an orchid.

It is important to ensure that the drainage system in the basket is appropriate so that the medium does not become mushy and the roots receive enough air for growth.

Planting on slabs

If you wish to grow your orchid on slabs of wood, rafts, tree fern, or bark; you need to place the orchid along with its roots against the slabs or bark and cover then using sphagnum moss. Use a galvanized wire, monofilament fishing line, string or even an old panty hose to tie the root ball of the orchid with the slab or bark.

Alternatively, you may hold the orchid along with its roots using an electrician's staples. Remember to ensure that the roots always remain moist. After the roots have securely anchored the orchid to the slab or bark, you may get rid of the ties.


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