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Why You Should Re-Pot Orchids

Plants have become a very important part of my wellness strategy over these last couple of years, and orchids are one of THE easiest plants to care for!

I've been acquiring orchids on clearance for years now, and my husband knows that it's my favorite plant to receive as a gift because it lasts a very long time.

But I have neglected re-potting them out of fear that I will kill them - maybe you can relate!

I've done a bunch of research on re-potting orchids and found this one YouTube video from the Chicago Botanic Garden that helped set me at ease. Click here to see it for yourself.

She made it look so easy, I decided to give it a try - I'll keep you updated on the progress!

Did you know that roots grow ON trees and not in the ground? They are quite spectacular!

Isn't that fascinating?

That's how orchids live in the wild. Their roots grow in moss or rainforest debris, but mostly they’re exposed to the open air.

In contrast, when old potting material breaks down in a container, air cannot circulate around orchid roots. Without good air flow, roots cannot breathe, and the plant quickly dies. That’s why orchids need repotting, usually once every 2 – 3 years.

Spring is the ideal time, since new roots will be happiest growing into new bark or moss. So don’t dread those repotting chores. Think of them as giving a breath of fresh air to your orchids.

The first thing she suggests one does is put on gloves (which I forgot!) and remove all the moss from the roots. One of mine had moss, you'll see below in the picture, but the others did not. They were simply sitting in loose bark with a little plug of soil that I gently removed and tossed in the garbage.

This one has the roots tightly wound around the moss. This is one of my oldest orchids, I think it's 5 years old. My husband purchased it a Home Depot for me for Mother's Day.

That's how long I've been avoiding repotting it - but it has re-bloomed every single year, except last year.

This is why I decided to give this re-potting thing a go!

These roots look pretty bad...wish me luck!

This one came from our local grocery store on clearance and has the little soil plug that I gently removed.

It's a couple of years old and re-bloomed both years without having to be repotted.

Here's what the one that had the moss looks like without it - lots of roots!

Poor thing...I feel so bad for neglecting it so long.

I hope it will forgive me and re-bloom!

You can see the actual root is the thin, stringy looking strand. The roots on orchids are covered with a fleshy substance called a vellamin.

Since the roots are subject to air, the vellamin helps hold the water for the root and prevents it from drying out.

I pulled the dry vellamin off where I could and left the strands.

In the video, she suggests soaking the roots in a substance that helps kill any potential rot you may have. My orchids have been sitting in a cold part of our basement for the entire winter and I have not watered them, so there is no black spots on them I need to be concerned about.

As you can see in my first picture, I used a rough bark mix from MiracleGro that I found at Home Depot. I'm sure you can get it online as well.

I also did not use perlite or moss like she suggests (I'm a rebel - I know! Living on the wild side here). Mostly because I didn't want to go to the shed to get it. So this will be a great experiment!

I tend to underwater and mist often, so I did not use a pot with holes on the bottom. That's just my preference. Most people overwater, so if that's you, definitely make sure you have a pot with drainage holes.

Here are three varieties of orchids sitting in my pretty turquoise pot.

I did leave one of the stems because it's still green and I noticed in the past that sometimes new flowers come out of the green spent stems.

Here they are in their final spot! Getting plenty of light and looking happy.

I did add a bunch of ice cubes (most melted by the time this picture was taken) because my orchids have been sitting pretty dry for months.

Crossing my fingers and my toes!

I'll keep y'all updated!


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