Today I will talk about the orchid repotting process and my personal strategy to ensure that your orchid can recover from its travels.
I will have larger versions of the images at the bottom of the page.
For this article I went out and bought a orchid that was about to be thrown out, looking at it it’s likely not hard to see why:
The flower spike is snapped in half, there are only two “flowers” remaining, two of the leaves on the bottom right are snapped in half, and there is a root that is hanging out of the pot it’s in that looks very dead.
Because if it’s condition I was able to get this orchid for half price, but I personally love taking on these plants that would likely have been thrown out.
That being said I got it back home and took it out of the pot it was in.
Often they are packaged inside of these plastic containers and are completely stuffed in them with sphagnum moss. We can see that there are some green and healthy looking roots inside which is a good sign.
The leaves still felt firm so I was confident that there would be at least some healthy root systems, I was happy to see that I was right.
I grab some scissors and carefully cut the plant out of the plastic container, being careful not to damage the roots.
This peeves me to no end. Orchids often get a reputation for being difficult plants because they die after you buy them. But you can see just how tightly these plants are packed in. Orchid roots hate this and they will die in a few weeks if they aren’t removed.
Miniature rant aside, I made the best effort I could to remove all of the sphagnum moss that is packed onto the roots. Again, it is important that you don’t damage the healthy roots. After I remove the sphagnum get the roots wet to highlight the healthy roots.
Before I get to the cutting, there are a few tools you should have first. You will need some hydrogen peroxide, some scissors, and some q-tips.
Sanitize the scissors with the hydrogen peroxide, the q-tips will come in later.
After you sanitize your scissors should be all set to cut away at the unhealthy roots.
Healthy roots will have a nice green color to them, the white ones are in a sort of “in-between” phase. The ones you need to cut the ones that are either brown, black, or are just white strings. Orchid roots are primarily this insular fiber over a more firm and tough string. Often this “string” will be the only thing left when a orchid root has rotted.
That being said, I cut away all of the unhealthy roots.
In the process of cutting away the roots I cut away the broken spike and pulled away one of the leaves.
Of the two leaves that were broken I took one of them off and removed half of the second one.
When I removed the leaf I noticed something that could develop into a problem. It is important that I touch on this and what you can do to avoid it.
Underneath the leaf that I pulled away, it appears that the main part of the plant is rotting. This is often referred to as “crown rot” and happens when there is moisture trapped in between the leaves and the central part of the stem or the “crown.”
It appears to just be black but not squishy but I will be keeping track of this for some time. I’ve put some hydrogen peroxide on it and will be keeping moisture off of it
After everything is said and done, here are what I’ve removed from the plant and some of the sphagnum moss that was removed from the plant.
Now take the q-tips and dab them in the hydrogen peroxide and touch the open cuts of the roots or anything else you have cut. Doing this prevents the cuts from getting infected or rotting.
Now all that’s left is to take the plant and hold it into the pot, then to dump the potting medium into the pot. Make sure to leave the leaves and the central part of the stem out of the medium, we don’t want water getting into that. It’s OK if the roots don’t touch the bottom. If your plant doesn’t have enough roots to support itself then you can use the stick that likely came with the plant. If you need more support then you can use chop sticks to support it.
I admit I got pretty lucky with this one, it has some very healthy looking roots and it seems like it’s going to be perfectly happy with its new pot.
I will be updating the status of this orchid on my Twitter in the coming weeks, if you’re interested in seeing this plant as it develops or just seeing what other content I have, be sure to follow me on Twitter.