Basic orchid care is not as daunting as most people believe. Learn how repotting orchids like the Phalaenopsis variety is fairly easy and some basic tips about their care.
When it comes to repotting orchids, you need to watch out for a few keys points. Orchids are so beautiful and delicate looking but did you know they are not that hard to grow. Especially the Phalaenopsis hybrids which you can now buy readily at the supermarket and big box stores.
You may have seen some sold as "Ice Cube Orchids," where all you have to do is give them 3 ice cubes a week. I personally do not adhere to the ice cube method but believe the idea here is that it allows the plant to receive the water in a slow drip and gives them a measured amount so that they are not over-watered. However, I do believe that they prefer room temperature or tepid water, not hot water but certainly not freezing cold.
Not over-watering really is the key. Making sure the plant has ample drainage and watering well is the best way to care for most houseplants. Too much water will cause root rot.
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I received this Phalaenopsis orchid from my sister for Mother's day several years ago. It flowers 1-2 times a year for me and the flowers seem to last for several weeks. However, you can see that one of the plants is growing out of the pot and although they do like to be pot-bound this one appears to be shriveling. Time to re-pot.
Simply remove the entire plant(s) from the pot gently shake out and remove all the potting mix from the orchid's roots.
Separate the two plants. Rinse the roots in cool water and cut away any dead roots or those that are broken or very soft. Make sure your scissors, knife, or pruners are clean and sterile. You can use a little rubbing alcohol to make sure.
Re-pot in a tight plastic pot with drainage holes. I used a plastic take-out container and poked holes in the sides and the bottom. This is how you typically see them in nurseries. The plastic makes it easy for you to see what's going on and holes provide extra drainage. You can then place it in a pretty clay pot. Just make sure that when you water it no extra water is left at the bottom of the new pot.
Use fresh potting material specifically sold for orchids. You can find this in any nursery or garden center. It is typically an orchid bark material that provides fast drainage. Some also like to use sphagnum moss which helps hold moisture for the plant.
Orchid Light Needs
Place your orchid in an area with indirect light. The leaves should be a nice medium green. Dark green leaves may indicate insufficient light while light yellowish-green may indicate too much light.
I like to water mine once a week. Take the pot out of the pretty container and run it under lukewarm water for several seconds giving it a good soaking. If it is draining properly you should see water come out of the bottom almost immediately. Then let it sit in the sink until all of the excess water drain out before placing it back in the pretty container.
As your orchid grows don't worry about the roots that grow out of the pot. These are aerial roots and they acquire moisture from the air. Since orchids are epiphytes this is a common reaction. You can see that this Kokedama orchid has a few aerial roots growing around the base.
If you've always admired orchids but were afraid to try them start with a Phalaenopsis. They're really quite easy houseplants to grow. They don't bloom often but when they do, the bloom lasts for several weeks which is much longer than cut flowers, and that's good enough for me.
For more information about repotting orchids from the experts see The American Orchid Society's notes on orchid care.
Repotting Orchids and Basic Care - It's Easier Than You Think
- Potting Medium For Orchids typically bark mixes
- Plastic Pot With Drainage
- Ceramic Pot to hold plastic pot
- Remove the entire plant(s) from the pot.
- Gently shake out and remove all the planting medium.
- Separate the two plants.
- Rinse the roots in cool water and cut away any dead, broken or very soft roots.
- Make sure your scissors or pruners are clean and sterile.
- You can use a little rubbing alcohol to make sure.
- Re-pot in a tight plastic pot with drainage.
- Use fresh potting medium specifically sold for orchids.
- Place it in a pretty pot.
- Place your orchid in an area with indirect light.
- Water once a week. by taking the pot out of the pretty container, and run it under lukewarm to cool water for a few seconds.