Repotting an Orchid in Bloom

by Lori W.
(Shawnee, Kansas)

I just purchased an orchid with two spikes, flowers and lots of buds. It is soaking wet and is potted in two different kinds of media: sphagnum moss at the core around the roots and a coarse bark/coconut/perlite medium around the moss/core.

I want to repot this orchid immediately because I am concerned about the roots rotting. It appears the pot has been watered for the coarse medium, which is keeping the moss soaking wet all the time.

I intend to spray the roots with a root stimulator, and then repot in New Zealand Sphagnum moss, packing the moss loosely.

I learned my lesson the hard way trying to repot an orchid in these two media in fir bark. Most of the roots died because they were used to the continuous moisture from the moss.

I understand sphagnum moss is supposed to have anti-bacterial properties, so my question is this: If I cut off dead or decaying roots, do I need to treat the cut ends of the roots with cinnamon before I pot the orchid in the sphagnum moss?

The moss is moist when I repot, so won't the cinnamon just rub off? Are there any other precautions I should take in repotting this orchid in bloom?


Plant Guides Answer:


I wouldn't usually advise someone to repot an orchid while it is actively blooming but I can certainly understand why you want to correct this immediately.

If there is already some rot, you will need to gently get it out of the pot and remove all the media in order to inspect the roots. Remove any that are rotting and yes, dust the cuts with cinnamon. Then pack fresh, barely damp moss around the roots and set the plant in the shade to recover.

Be careful not to get it too wet until it does.

If there is no reason to suspect there is root rot, I would not remove it from the pot it is in right now.

What I would do is turn the pot upside down over a plastic bag while holding the orchid in place with my hand and shake as much of the bark off as possible. Take a blunt stick and gently dig out any bark chunks that are wedged in.

You may not be able to get them all without damaging the orchid's roots but remove as many as you can.

Then, using that same stick, push damp moss into the voids left by the bark media. Once the orchid has finished blooming, you can repot it if you still feel the need.

It is usually best to wait as long as possible before repotting orchids as they tend to sulk for a while after being disturbed.

I hope this helps.

Repotting Orchids is a page with more information about
when and how to repot orchids.

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Apr 20, 2014
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Orchid Roots Gone Wild
by: Juanita

My orchid is overrun with roots on top of the plant
The plant is all on one side and has two long stems that are loaded with blooms -- about 25-30.
It is so top heavy that is wants to fall over all the time. It needs repotting but do I dare do it
now?? Do I cut off all those unsightly roots?

Botanical Journeys Plant Guides:

Never remove more than a third of an orchid's healthy roots. I would wait until the plant finishes blooming before removing the worst offenders.

Meanwhile, prop it up as best you can using stakes.

The reason for waiting is to preserve the flowers.

If you would rather prune the plant now, it would be best to remove the flower stalks first. If you leave them on, the plant my not be able to handle the stress of supporting the blooms after having its root system severely reduced.

Whenever you decide to give it the chop, Repotting Orchids Without Fear will guide you in doing it safely.

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