bounce : time for a close-up. other than watering and occasionally fertilizing them, you credibly do n’t look closely at your orchids all that much when they ‘re not in efflorescence. spring is the time to examine each plant with a critical eye to assess the need for repotting. It ‘s besides when you ‘ll see the raw growth that signals egress from the abeyant cycle—the best time for repotting. Is it new? Holiday giving orchids or newly-purchased plants are often planted with sphagnum moss, which absorbs and holds water—creating prime conditions for orchid root putrefaction. Repot all new orchids ampere soon as they ‘re done bally. When was the last re-potting? Orchids need both the nutrients from the chunky, free bark mix they ‘re planted in and the breeze outer space in between the pieces. As the mix breaks down to particle size, it compacts the atmosphere spaces inside the pot—virtually suffocating your orchid ‘s roots. Check the bark mix every spring and repot when you notice decay. Is it crowded in there? While orchids prefer a little pot—weaving their roots through the compost as they grow—they finally run out of room. That ‘s when their roots push the plant up above the rim of the pot or reach out into the air out, looking for breathing space—a certain sign that it ‘s time to re-pot. Fresh bark mix is chunky and loosen ; decomposed desegregate fills in the air pockets that orchid roots need. Gather a few supplies. Repotting an orchid sounds complicated and alien, but it ‘s a bare process requiring fair a few items :
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- Fresh bark mix. The mix matters: some typical store-bought mixes deteriorate far too rapidly. For high-quality mixes, Chicago-area orchid fans can travel west to Orchids by Hausermann’s, an orchid nursery that carries several bark options—not to mention fantastic plants. Online orchid specialists offer more options, too.
- A pot that’s one size larger than the original, in case your orchid is ready to move up.
- Pruners and/or a sharp pruning knife, sterilized in a 10 percent bleach solution.
- Scissors or a razor blade for trimming roots and leaves.
- Gloves to protect your hands from splinters and prickles.
- A thin dowel or blunt knife for settling compost around the roots.
Healthy orchid roots are white ; pale k tips indicate fresh emergence. Get to the solution of it. now comes the concern part. Remove the orchid from the pot. Roots can be potbound and sticky ; first try “ massaging ” the pot to loosen the rootball. not budging ? Work a dull knife down and around the inside of the pot, then invert it and tap the pot on your shape airfoil to remove. Soak the roots. Examine the rootball and feel a few settle ends. If the rootball is potent and dry, soak it in urine for a few minutes to soften the tissues. careful : desiccated roots can snap ! Loosen and untangle roots gently. As you do, trim away black/hollow/soggy roots and remove the old compost trapped between the roots. Refresh the disentangle roots with a exhaustive gargle to wash away all the bantam bits of soil that can clog up breathing spaces inside the pot. Settle plant into the new pot. Holding the establish in one hand, place the plant down into the pot. Pour fresh bark mix around the plant, using a dowel or blunt knife to work it all the way down and between the newly separated roots. Water thoroughly. then test your solitaire : wait a wax week or two before watering again—that break stimulates root growth in the new medium.
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Know your orchid. While this basic pot method works for most orchids, some require special care, such as dividing or mounting. Our Lenhardt Library is a capital resource for specialization orchid information—we ‘ve counted more than 600 books, videos, and other orchid resources there, all available to smart gardeners in one beautiful space ! Come in for a visit while you ‘re at the Orchid Show !
Karen Zaworski is a garden writer and photographer who lives and gardens in Oak Park, Illinois .