Orchid Potting – How to Repot an Orchid in 7 Easy Steps

Orchid Re-PottingOrchid potting is not as frightening as it may sound. However, it is also not as commonly necessary as you might think.

You see, orchids are known for their expansive roots. Think of them as arms, reaching and exploring out of the bottom of the pot, looking for nutrients. These creeping and crawling roots are the orchids way of attach itself to its surroundings (though in nature, these roots are usually clinging to trees, not to table legs!).

But believe it or not, if you have exposed roots, that’s not reason enough to repot the orchid. You should repot the orchid when there is no room left in the pot for the next growth and when the soil within is no longer providing nourishment for the plant. In addition, if the roots are rotting, due to being wet too often, this is another instance when orchid potting becomes necessary.

Orchid repotting does not take long. In fact, you can do it within just seven simple steps (even if you are not someone with a green thumb!

So if it’s time to repot…here’s exactly HOW to repot your orchid:

1. Gather your tools. You will need potting medium, a new pot and cutting tools that you have sterilized. Yes, sterilized! Though most people do not realize it, like surgical procedures, all tools should be sterilized before you perform your “operation” on your delicate orchid.

2. Tip the pot on its side and pull the plant out of the pot, without breaking up any of the substance at this point. Run your fingers gently through the potting medium to remove as much of it as possible. Loosen up the root ball with your fingers to get the entire natural medium out.

3. Using a cutting tool, remove any roots that are dark brown, water-logged or that are black. These are not healthy for orchids. Healthy orchid roots are white or a light brown color.

4. Take off any back bulbs, which are bulbs that are still alive, but have lost all of their leaves. You can repot these in another pot (though they should be in their own space.) Be sure to trim off any old, dead leaves and bulbs as well.

5. Set the plant down and focus on the new pot. It, too, should be sterilized and dry before beginning. You should place Styrofoam peanuts in the bottom of the pot with a mixture of your potting medium.

6. Fill the pot with the medium about half way. How do you know what to use? The best plant material available is a good way to go (organic whenever possible.) Choose a well-balanced product. If you’re unsure, ask your orchid supplier what the best medium is for your orchid.

7. Position the orchid in the middle of the pot if it is a terrestrial or monopodial. If you have a sympodial orchid, place it to the right of the middle. And if you don’t know what type of orchid you have, ask your local garden center or check online resources that describe the leaves and roots of the orchid.

Orchid potting does not require many expensive materials, or a lot of time. However, you do want to ensure that you allow the roots to grow and spread. It is rarely possible to contain them. Allow the roots to come out the bottom as they touch and feel their way around your home. And always remember, orchid potting like this should only be done when necessary.

And to learn even more orchid potting tips, download my totally FREE 5-Day Orchid Insider training course by going here: Orchid Care Insider Strategies.

Your Comments

40 Comments so far

  1. Gary Empey says:

    Orchids are such a beautiful flower, yet strangely I have hard time keeping them alive. I am not much of a green thumb but I think I will try out my luck again after reading your post. Thank You.

    • Pat says:

      I find orchid extremely easy to raise. Mine are under a castor bean tree and they do great.
      Recently I bought a new one and left it in the car and the two huge buds turned black hopefully it will come back

  2. Tracy Downer says:

    I am so glad I came across your website. I just inherited a orchid from my sister and have been trying to figure out how to repot it. Your blog post was just what I needed.

  3. Quinn says:

    Orchids are such an intersting plant and flower, who would have thought they required such care. I’m glad they do however, because they are a beautiful flower. If I ever repot mine I will follow these steps.

  4. Paige Yearly says:

    Thank You, Thank You for the advice on this. Repotting any plant isn’t as easy as you would think (I have had my fair share of problems). I will make sure to use you website as a resource the next time I repot my orchid.

  5. Issac Arnold says:

    Thank for the great advice on this. I am some what of a green thumb and have had orchids for years, your post on repotting was so good and so easy to follow. Thanks.

  6. Ellen Mirr says:

    Thank goodness I saw your site. I have been wondering how I will repot an orchid. You are heaven sent!

    • Mary Ann says:

      That’s so nice to hear! 🙂 Thank you for your comment. I hope it went well! Let us know how you are doing. – Mary Ann

  7. Brianna Simmons says:

    I tried your seven simple steps in repotting and I am happy I was able to do it earlier. They are now happy with their new pots. Thanks to you!

  8. Alice says:

    The steps are very easy to do. My sister and I tried it. We didn’t encounter any problem. I was surprised because we did enjoy doing it.

  9. Linda says:

    I always thought repotting is very difficult and time consuming. I will have to try this tomorrow. I bookmarked your site for easy access. Thanks!

  10. greenarm says:

    This is a good site for care. I have repotted just about the same, except no foam peanuts. So far so good. I read not to cut the flower stem because it feeds the plant. I may try to cut some of the dead ones. Can be unsightly for those that do not understand orchids. I have gotten the stems to reproduce by misting the flower stem. I am awaiting for my cinderella slipper to rebloom again. This will be my third rebloom. Thanks for the new information

    • Mary Ann says:

      That’s wonderful! 🙂 Sounds like you are treating your orchids very well. Congratulations! Please keep us updated! – Mary Ann

    • Elsa says:

      My orchid has a brown spot on one leaf and the leaf is lightening up. Any idea what going on. I just bought it at a flower show.

      • Mary Ann says:

        It could be nothing or it could be fairly serious. It depends on a lot of factors. Please look and see if it looks like this. There are some suggestions there as well. Black rot. – Mary Ann

  11. Samuel Metz says:

    Life is not always sunny days with peaches and cream. My orchids recharge my energy and keep me young (70).

    Orchids are so beautiful! Only God could create an orchid. My orchids are a special blessing.

    • Mary Ann says:

      I agree with you, sir! I’m glad you are getting the most out of your orchids. Thanks for your comment. – Mary Ann

  12. Fallon says:

    I re-potted my orchid and now the leaves are brown and rotting, all the flowers have fallen off, but the vines and stake are still green and strong. Is there help of salvaging it? I’m so upset. I’ve had it for almost a year now 🙁 any tips would be appreciated!

  13. Pat says:

    I find just letting orchids do their own thing is best.

    They survive in the wilds by themselves with out any attention, less is sometimes more


    • Mary Ann says:

      Great point! 🙂 Of course in the wild they do get attention from mother nature, so trying to emulate that care is a good way to look at it. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  14. rosemary johnson says:

    I have three orchids, indoors, and I water them by placing them in a bowl of water for 20 minutes, once a week. One of my orchids is in the process of blooming for the third time. The other which was maltreated while I was in hospital(the main stalk was cut down by my step son!) is pushing out new shoots, and the third which I received as a gift last week is in full bloom. I’m thinking of re potting the “maltreated” one to see if I can encourage it to grow a new stalk, and perhaps flower.

    • Mary Ann says:

      It sounds like you are doing a great job! 🙂 Keep us updated on what you do and how it goes! Thanks! – Mary Ann

  15. Terry says:

    I went on a vacation, left my orchids on the deck (ATL) and an early November freeze burned them. They have not cpome back in any way (January). These orchids have been family for 15 years. Do I hold a service or perform surgery? Forgive me!

    • Mary Ann says:

      I would keep trying until blooming season and then see what happens. Do your best to save it. Allow the medium to dry while keeping it in a humid and high temperature environment with no direct sunlight. If new growth appears, then you can resume watering. Good luck!! Let us know how it goes. 🙂 – Mary Ann

  16. shad says:

    I have a phalaenopsis which I bought ten years ago..l like to regenerate it by cutting the lower stem with the old roots and leaving the upper stem with the aerial roots .But I don’t want to lose it because it is the first one in my collection and it has very beautiful flowers.what do you think

    • Mary Ann says:

      Have you done this before or are you saying you’d like to do it? If you are saying you’d like to do it, it sounds like it would work since each section has its own root system. – Mary Ann

  17. Brigid says:

    My sister left her orchids in a very cold outbuilding and now they look all but dead. Can you advise how I can revive them.

    I have not taken them out of their pots yet.

  18. Sue says:

    My daughter’s phal got leaf damage when the apartment building she lived in got new outside paint. There were only 2 leaves remaining and no new leaf growth in the past year, but it stayed alive. There are 2 healthy looking flowers that have bloomed in the past few weeks but now one of the last 2 leaves (the biggest) is turning yellowish and looks like it’s fixing to die. Can the plant survive with only one leaf, and not a very good one at that?

    • Mary Ann says:

      Yes – it can. The plant can survive a lot of things if you respond to its needs as they arise. How are the roots looking? If you have healthy roots and new root growth, you can regrow the entire plant. It takes time and patience, of course. – Mary Ann

  19. merle dvorak says:

    my orchid is at least a year old. I had it in my bathroom where it would get humidity and in a window over the tub. the other two seem okay but this one started getting leathery leaves which look wilty. I see the roots are still being sent out all down the stem. I just don’t know what to do at this point. I’m scared to repot it as I lost my last orchid. if I do repot it, do I try to fit all those new roots that are growing up the stem into the soil? and do I have to get orchid soil?……

    • Mary Ann says:

      Merle – I’m not sure how often you are watering your orchid or what kind it is, but this orchid may just need a little more water if the roots are healthy? If you have an orchid society or an orchid grower near you, I would encourage you to get their input too. 🙂 Thanks! – Mary Ann

  20. Tammy says:

    very nice site. I inherited 3 phal orchids, all in separate pots. I am so up to the challenge. The leaves are huge thick strong and green. They are so heavy they hang to one side of the small pot they are in. November in East coast Florida. My apt doesn’t get direct sunlight. THEY ARE THIRSTY can I put 3 ice cubes in each to water? I haven’t checked the root system yet. Based
    on what I have read I think the bark they are planted in is two years old. Go for it. I am ready for your input. Thanks

    • Mary Ann says:

      Hi Tammy, Thank you. 🙂 Pay attention to the leaves. You should increase watering gradually and see how it does. Make sure the leaves are looking okay and you aren’t keeping it too moist because then you’ll have root rot. You also want to be sure that there is good air circulation. 🙂 I hope this is helpful! – Mary Ann

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