Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Repotting an Orchid

Give your orchid the care it craves, and you’ll soon have a healthy plant that’s ready for repotting. The process is simple—you don’t need to be a professional green thumb to confidently tackle this task. A great help, for any gardening project, is an outdoor sink. It really simplifies clean up. The time to repot your orchid is after flowering, when new roots have emerged but haven’t grown longer than half an inch. Water orchids before repotting. Step 1: Tap the container to gently remove the orchid. Remove all growing medium from around the roots. A gentle stream of water can help to wash it away. Step 2: Pinch off any dead or dying roots. Healthy roots are white and firm; diseased roots are dark brown to black. Orchids flower best when grown in tight quarters, so repot into a container that accommodates roots without breaking or bending them. Step 3: Use foam packing peanuts to block drainage holes in the container. Soak fir bark overnight so splinters and dust settle out. In the morning, just use the floating pieces of bark to pot the orchid. Step 4: Place phalaenopsis and dendrobium orchids so that the base of the bottom leaf is right at the surface of the bark; insert new growth of oncidium and odontoglossum orchids one-half inch into the bark. Fill in around the roots with potting medium and gently tamp down to secure the plant. Water orchids sparingly until new roots emerge and grow into the bark. Note: When potting epiphytes, such as phalaenopsis, cattleya, dendrobium, epidendrum, miltonias, and brassias, use orchid potting bark. Orchid potting mix should only be used for terrestrial orchids such as plieone, cypripedium, paphiopetalum, other lady slipper types, bletillas, and bromeliads. Some orchid mixes and other potting mixes contain peat, which causes epiphytes to eventually rot. Additional considerations Containers: Selecting the appropriate container and the proper potting medium are even more important than the right timing and should be well thought out in advance before attempting to repot. The types of containers used for orchid growing are divided into two basic types: those that are porous and those that are not. Terra cotta or clay pots are of the porous type. They allow air to pass through the container and dry the potting mixture more quickly. Porous containers should be used in situations where the humidity is high and by those who tend to overwater their plants. Resin, which is impenetrable, retains moisture and is therefore recommended when humidity is low and for those who water less frequently. Choose a container that is slightly larger than the previous pot or reuse the same container after replenishing or replacing the existing potting medium. Do not plant directly into decorative containers, but rather use them as "slip covers" to hide less attractive pots. Potting medium: The potting mixture will be determined by the type of orchid and by the size or diameter of the roots. When using a bark medium, choose a coarse mix for orchids with thick, fleshy roots and a fine medium for those with smaller, fine roots. Make sure that the package of fir bark you purchase states that it is suitable for orchid growing. Soak the product in a bucket of water overnight to remove any mulch dust and to premoisten the medium before filling the containers. Bark is a decomposing medium and should be replaced every year or every other year before it can decay and cause root rot.

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