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.
There is new growth under old leaves on my orchid plant. Should I remove the older leaves to make room for new growth?
I would leave them alone Dorothy.
I think I killed my orchid by watering too much. The leaves fell off and stem is brown. What should I do will it grow back
Shelly, I don't know if it will grow back. Take a look at the roots and see if they are shriveled up. If you have some roots that look nice and pump then it may come back. Stop watering for a week and then only water it sparing making sure that it drains totally after watering.
What should be done with long green roots that are growing over the side of the current?
Shannon, those are probably aerial roots and can be left alone. Most orchids are epiphytes. That means they naturally grow on trees and get their nutrients from the air. They can become unruly but if they are healthy you probably should not cut them. That would reduce the plant's ability to gather nutrients and the cut/wound could leave you open for bacteria etc to get into the plant.
Barbara, I know what you mean by not being able to remember where you planted something. Also, I've read that a paint pen holds up well outside, especially if you protect it with an exterior sealant. Let me know how they turn out.
The decorative pot that my orchid came in has a design with holes in it around the top one inch. Three (out of 6) of the aerial roots managed to grow through the little holes. This makes it impossible to pull the inner pot out for proper watering. I would have to cut off those roots to lift the inner pot out. Should I do that and find a better outer pot? It's blooming now (has been for 3 months!!!!). I water a very little once a week but can't examine drainage.
Wendy, in your case I would just take the entire pot and water it in the sink. Then tilt it or lean it so that it can drain well before moving it back to its regular spot.
Am loving this..wish I could send a pic of d mess I have
My husband received an orchid while in the hospital December 2015. It became mibe😊 I had never tried growing one before because I thought I would promptly kill one however, to my delight my orchid has bloomed continuously since then. As soon as one bloom falls off another starts growing rapidly and blooms. I have had as many as 5 at a time. Now to the rest if the story. For the first time all blooms are off and both stems have turned brown. The leaves are green and healthy. I have never fertilized it or repotted it. My thought was to leave well enough alone but now I'm wondering if I need to repot and/or fertilize it. I have watered it by running warm water through it and leaving it in the sink to drain overnight. Up until now it has worked like a charm. Help.
It sounds like you are taking perfect care of your orchid. As long as it looks healthy I see no reason to change anything. From my experience and what I have read, it's normal for it to have a growing period without blooms. You could always try a little fertilizer especially made for orchids. It certainly would not hurt.
I hope that helps and thanks for stopping by,
I have several small orchids (phals.) that were blooming when I got them and have continued to send up flower spikes that sometimes go all the way to fully formed and blooming flowers and some that bud but then the bud falls off before blooming. They have all sent out long roots that dangle over the edge of their small pots. I'm anxious to try and repot but are concerned about these roots. Should I trim them, try and tuck them into the new pot or let them continue to hang out over their new pot? Also I've heard I should soak their potting medium (I've got an orchid specific mix) before potting, yes? Lastly, do I fertilize and how often if my plant is flowering or sending up a flower spike? Thanks for any guidance you can give me.
The roots that are coming up out of the pot are aerial roots and should not be buried or cut, unless they look rotted or dead. They do look a little funny but since the orchid is an epiphyte then it is getting it's moisture from the air. You can use a fertilizer but make sure it's one that is created specifically for orchids. Usually it will have three numbers. A high first number is high in nitrogen which is good when blooms are ending and helps promote good root and leaf growth. Fertilizers with a higher middle number are high in phosphorus and are good for promoting blooms. I personally only fertilize about once a month maybe even a few times a year.
Hope this helps,
My orchid got placed next to the heater by a man working on my home. Now her leaves are half dead. Part of them look beautiful tho. How do I cut the leafs? 4/5 are half bad. Can I cut the tips of the leafs off?
I'm sorry to hear about your orchid damage. I have not had this issue but I did find this video on youtube from the American Orchid Society.
Hope it helps. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3dnCjivaP_U
Margaret J. MacDonald
I bought an Orchid in March, 3 years ago & they had the "flowers" green, for St Patricks Day BUT every year, since then, the flowers are white & it blooms in March or April. I have a friend who is called "THE ORCHID QUEEN" & her advise is - - NEVER use ice cubes as it "shocks" the plant & NEVER cut the roots that come out over the pot. Orchids grow in the tropics so treat them as such !! Just a bit of advise from the "Queen."
Your orchid sounds beautiful! I personally don't use the ice cube method but I guess it works for some. I also agree that you should not cut the air roots unless of course they are rotted or look dead.
Thanks for stopping by,
I've recently inherited pot fulls of orchids when we bought our house. Probably about 7 large pots and all have mostly healthy looking green leaves. But I feel as if the pots are too overcrowded, they seem to be many individual stems with new stems sprouting randomly on them. I am unsure how to go about perhaps removing some and repotting or what t do with them.
How lucky to inherit such lovely plants. My humble opinion is to leave them be unless they are jumping out of the pot or look bad (yellow leaves, shriving leaves and roots...) Orchids really like to be pot bound and I have found that they do best if you leave them alone. Here's a good article from some experts that make help. http://www.aos.org/orchids/orchid-care.aspx
I received a orchid in July the flowers were very nice and healthy looking i use the ice cube method the pot looks very full there is a lot of air roots on the surface but my flowers are wilted and feeling soft and falling off. What to do
I think that is pretty normal. The flowers will fade and drop off eventually. Sometimes you will get another bloom on that stalk fi you cut it back a bit, or if it dries up I just usually cut it back.
Hope that helps,
I had an orchid standing outside, I cut the stem off after the blooms dropped off, but then my plant was damaged, I think baboons broke off the top two leaves ( the growing point - I guess) after that the remaining leaves died but the roots still looked alive, could it recover, any advise?
Wow. That's a tough one. Maybe try giving it a little orchid fertilizer and keep it in place with indirect light. If the roots are still alive, I'd say there's a chance.
Best of luck,
I received my orchid for Valentine's Day. It has lost two blooms but the other 5 are still looking good. I'm guessing they won't last much longer. Does the care change at all once the flowers are gone?
You may have read the comments below that talk about cutting the flower stalks below the first bud to promote more blooms but really I do not change the care otherwise.
My question is I have a an orchid its been in the same pot for a few years it has roots going out the top and its packed in the pot, I'm not sure when to repot it?? please help me ive been wanting to repot but wasn't sure how or when to do it please help thank you Robin
Roots coming out of the pot is very normal. If your orchid leaves look good I would not repot.
Thanks for stopping by,
I started with a couple orchids years ago and have now maybe 20 under my guidance. I only use bark as I think the moss gets too wet. A north window is where most of mine thrive. And, I snip the spike just under the bottom flower after they've fallen off but above the node to force another spike. My success rate is about 98%. I water my plants about once a week. I also have one that looks like a lady's ol-fashioned slipper that blooms once per year. I love my orchids!!!
Sounds like you have a beautiful orchid garden going. Thanks for sharing you wonderful success!
Orchids have roots that grow down into the potting medium and up into the air. A happy orchid will have air roots. They should be allowed to grow and not cut off unless they shrivel. When I first got an orchid, I didn't know what air roots were and kept trying to push them into the pot until someone clued me in
My mother gave me an Orchid when I had my son. He is now 18 months and have yet to get another flower. I was told to remove the flower spike when the flowers all died, so I did. The plant is still green and looks healthy. Only one small leaf has grown since I got it. Any advice? I have been using fertilizer but maybe not watering as much as I need to.
Sounds like your plant is pretty healthy. The only thing I can think of is to try to get it to a brighter spot but still indirect light. Check the fertilizer. One with a higher middle number may help produce blooms, ie 10-30-20.
When you say take-out container do you mean the container soup would come in? Make holes in it and then place this with the repotted orchid inside a decorative planter? I have one orchid that has only bloomed once that is very heavy with its leaves. I know it needs a larger container and want to make sure I'm doing the right thing for it.
Thanks for your help.
Yes, that's what I mean. Must of the orchid for sale come in these types of plastic containers with hole in the bottom. I would also be pretty generous wit the holes as you really want the plant to drain well. You can then put it in a decorative pot. The decorative pot does not have to have holes, but be sure to check after watering that it doesn't sit in water. I've read that some orchids only bloom once a year but you may also want to give it a bit a fertilizer. The orchid fertilizer usually has a high middle number to produce blooms.
Sorry, that should read "clip back the fowering stem to just AFTER the place where the first flower formed". No way to edit the post!
Thanks for the info Carolyn.
When my orchid blooms, after the last flower fades I clip back the flowering stem to just before the place where the first flower formed. The plant will send out another flowering stem from this spot.
I am a newbie. I just purchased several orchids. I read that to water with room temperature water. But also read to use the ice cube method. I am confused on what to do.Would appreciate any advice.
Here's what I think. Someone came up with the ice cube method so that people do not over-water their orchids, which is probably the number one killer. Still, they are native to warm climates they probably would prefer room temp water, but obviously the ice cubes won't kill them. I do not use ice cubes. Just make sure that they drain well and do not sit in any water. Also, know that many orchids only bloom once a year so once they are done blooming it is normal for them to not bloom again for a while. Enjoy your orchids!
Thanks.I have always thought they were a beautiful plant.I was under the impression they was difficult to grow.But decided to try my hand at growing them.
Some of them are much more difficult but the phalaenopsis are pretty easy and the easiest to find.
I have had several orchids and they never re-bloomed. Then my son gave me one last yr an i used ice cubes on it and after it bloomed last yr i did cut it at a node like i seen on a you tube video..to my amazement is has came to bloom again..so exciting
My orchid bloomed once and has since grown a little, sprouted new buds and has a couple roots poking out of the top of the pot; should I repot it soon or wait a while? Also, I read that you should cut the part of the stem above the new buds, is this true? I use the ice cube method and fertilize with orchid spikes every 3 months (like the package says).
If it looks healthy and is not jumping out of the pot I would leave it alone. Aerial roots are very common. Regarding cutting the stem I would only do this if the part above the buds looks dead.
Thanks for stopping by,
Thanks for all the orchids advise
My pleasure. Thanks for the kind comment Beulah.
phalaenopsis small plant to grow well what kind of fertilizer i have to use
I don't fertilize them often. Maybe once a month with a diluted all purpose fertilizer after watering first, so the fertilizer doesn't burn the roots.
I rescued several orchids from the 'mark-down' rack at a big box store. I bought some orchid potting mix (bark) and brought them home. I let them acclimate to my home before re-potting. Ever since I put them in the bark material, they are not happy! They are shriveling, even though I am watering on a regular schedule and they are putting on new roots. What did I do wrong? It seems like the bark material is so big and lets the plants kind of flop over... Should I shred it up a little and start over? HELP!!
Hmmm My first suspicion is root rot. Shriveled leaves sometime means that they are not able to absorb enough water as the roots have rotted. If you lift them out is it pretty wet? Is there enough drainage? Make sure they are not sitting in any water. The good news it that you are noticing new roots. I know what you mean about the large bark which is why you want to pot them in a snug pot. Usually they are in plastic with large holes that can then be placed in terra cotta or other pretty pots. Drainage is key. If they seem too wet pull them out and allow them to dry out a bit and repot. You may also find some more specific advice in an orchid forum. Good luck!!
I have an orchid plant that has developed 4-5 leaves on the stem. It had beautiful blooms earlier this year but now it's it looks like another plant in the middle of the stem! What am I to do?
Sounds like you might have a baby orchid or plantlet. Congratulations! I have never had one but found this article for you that may be helpful.
Best of luck,
Is it alright to pot 3 orchids together in one long pot?
While I have not done this I've seen many beautiful arrangements so I would think it is possible. My instinct is that they should be from the same variety. Another idea would be to pot them in separate pots into a larger pot.
i have several orchids. When they finish blooming, I do not cut the green stem back. You may discover new shoots or buds springing out in various spots along that stem. If the stem dries up and turns brown, then you can cut it back. If you have nice green leaves on your orchid, but no flowers, just be patient. The new flower bearing shoots will grow out from the base of the leaves, or if there IS a green flower stem, from a joint in the previously flowering stem. It can take up to a year for an orchid to re-flower, so I purchased several at different times, hoping for staggered blooming periods. That didn't work, so now I "watch and wait"! The flowers are definitely worth it!
Thank you for confirming this issue. I had read about leaving the old stems or cutting about one of the joints. I'll have to try it. Also, thanks for confirming patience which many (including me) do not have when it comes to waiting for more blooms.
I got my first orchid phalaenopsis as a gift. It has bloomed and now what do I do? One of the stems is now turning brown. Do I snip it where the brown stops? The leaves are beautiful and healthy and would hate to do the wrong thing. Please advise me.
I usually cut it off closer to the base. I've read that you can cut it above a node where there are markings closer to the bottom and it will re-bloom there but have never tried it. Mine usually only bloom once a year though so don't worry if it doesn't flower for a while.
Thank u so much for your prompt response. I will do that.
I "cheat" and get a realistic-looking silk orchid stem from a craft store, place it in the pot, and leave it until the real plant re-blooms!
That's pretty clever indeed!
Ah hahahahaha! I love it!!! Very clever indeed!
You really made me laugh out loud!
I received my first orchid 2 years ago and enjoyed it's gorgeous blooms for several months and then made a big mistake and followed advice from a friend to clip it's stem back right to the bottom...I was told that was how to care for them. It is still alive and has grown a new leaf or 2 and new roots since then but no new shoot has ever appeared. I would love any advice you can give me!
Well the good news is that it sounds really healthy. Many orchids only bloom once a year. That's how mine works. It is typically late summer early fall with the weather is getting cooler and the days shorter. Is that when yours bloomed before? If so, it may still bloom for you. Try giving it a little fertilizer. If you use all-purpose make sure to dilute it to half the strength. Try moving it to a place maybe a window where it will feel the effects of the cooler nights. I've also had success with them blooming on my screened in porch but had to move them back inside once the weather turned really cold. Don't feel bad. All gardeners have trail and errors. The key is to keep trying.
My orchid has lost all it's blooms. Do I need to trim it back at all or just leave it? I believe it is a Phalaenopsis.
I would leave it. I only trim any dead leaves from mine. It usually only blooms once a year for me starting in late summer or fall.
I have had one of these types of orchids for about a year. I did repot it because the roots were coming out the top of the pot and were drying up. I do the ice cube watering method. The leaves are a beautiful green and there are old shoots coming out the top but I have not had flowers since I received it a year or so ago. Any advice on how to get it to produce flowers? What am I doing wrong? and yes I do fertilize with orchid food and follow the instructions. Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks,Kim
Some orchids only bloom once a year, many in the fall, so possibly it will still bloom for you. Is it getting enough light? That could also be an issue.
I hope they start blooming for you soon.
plant food is a must
Andi Van Rensburg
I have 4 orchids, but when they flower the flowers are very small. By reading your post, I see I am watering them too much. I will certainly follow your advise!
Hmmmm I have heard that plants that are under stress will sometimes produce smaller flowers so the watering issue could make a difference. Maybe consider adding a little orchid fertilizer too. The fact that they are still blooming is good so hopefully they will straighten out for you and give you the blooms you love. Thanks for stopping by.
Carole West @ Garden Up green
I love orchids! When I was younger I was a florist and when the dendrobium orchids arrived I was the first one grabbing to add to my arrangements, especially if they were the bright purple ones. I use to have orchids in the home all the time before moving to the country, I could never get them to bloom again, I think it was because I was just impatient. Great tips I might have to rethink things and find me a dendrobium orchid plant. -Carole
I always wanted to be a florist. Blogging about flowers is as close as I'll probably ever get. I definitely think you should try one again. There are so many readily available now that are easy to grow. Especially the phalaenopsis.