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how to repot an orchid

Repotting an orchid is necessary for optimal orchid health. It is a chance to exchange a decomposed and salt-saturated potting mix for a top-grade potting mix. Every one to three years is a good time to repot an orchid.

How to Re-Pot an Orchid:

  1. Start by looking for new growth – your cue to repot
  2. Next, select a pot based on the orchid’s root volume & growing environment
  3. Always use high-quality potting media
  4. Then, gently unpot the orchid
  5. Carefully inspect & clean the roots
  6. Finally, work in the orchid’s roots & the potting mix

Knowing how to repot an orchid is an important part of orchid care. In this step-by-step guide, I walk you through the whole process.


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Determine If It’s Time to Re-Pot Your Orchid:

  1. Avoid root damage by re-potting before the potting medium breaks down.  As the wood chips begin to decay and break down you will see fine pieces of wood float to the top of the water. Decomposing wood is easy to identify because it looks suspiciously like coffee grounds. Remember, the best practice is to re-pot before the potting media breaks down. 
  2. The ideal time to re-pot orchids is when new growths, especially roots, appear – usually in the spring. Take extra care not to break the new roots.
  3. If possible, wait to re-pot until the orchid has finished flowering and the blooms have all dropped. Why ruin a good thing? You risk losing flowers if you re-pot too soon.
  4. If an orchid is climbing out the pot, re-pot. Sympodial orchids grow along a horizontal rhizome. When the rhizome extends over the edge of the pot and new growths, roots, and pseudobulbs grow outside the pot, the orchid has outgrown the pot.
  5. Re-pot right away, regardless of new growth if potting media has decomposed or if salts are too high.

Gather Your Materials

If you have determined that the time is right to re-pot your orchid, here is a list of materials you will need:

  • Old newspapers to lay over the workspace, to make cleanup easier.
  • A bowl with tepid water to soak the orchid in to make the roots more flexible. 
  • Sterilized pruning shears. Thoroughly clean scissors down with rubbing alcohol to sterilize, or use a butane torch to sterilize. Pass the ends of the shears through the flame.
  • Snug-fitting garden gloves.
  • A pot for the orchid. More information below on how to choose the right orchid pot, including size.
  • A wastebasket to collect the old planting media.
  • New potting media. More information below on how to choose the right potting media for your orchid. 
    • Additives to customize the potting mix to make it more water retentive or draining. Again, see below for more information.
  • A chopstick to fill in air voids.
  • A rhizome clip to secure the orchid. More information below.
  • Pencil and label.
  • A cloth or paper towels for easy cleanup.

Choose the Orchid Pot 

Select a Pot That Is Not Too Big

Orchids like to be crowded in their pot. If you do re-pot in a larger pot, use one that is only slightly larger. The orchid will not re-bloom as well, if at all if the pot size is too large, and with orchids, it is all about the flowers! A mature plant can continue to live in the same pot indefinitely, though seedlings may require yearly repotting.  

Orchid Pots Should Have Plenty of Drainages

Another reason to underpot orchids is for drainage. If the pot is too large the center of the pot will remain damp and stagnant. Orchids grow best in free-draining, open potting mixes. Additionally, a pot that is too large will prevent air from reaching the roots.

Always choose a pot with drainage holes. At a minimum, the pot should have a drainage hole at the bottom. Many orchid pots, both clay, and plastic have side holes or slits.

Clean is King

The day before you plan to re-pot your orchid, sterilize your pot to prevent passing on fungal, bacterial infections, and pests. Use hot soapy water to clean the pot. Then, soak the pot in a bleach solution using 1 part bleach to 10 parts water for at least 20 minutes. Rinse and soak your pot in fresh, clean water. Next, allow the pot to dry. If using a clay pot, bake pot for 2 hours at 400F / 204.4C.

Root Volume Determine Pot Size

The pot should fit the volume of roots – not the height of the plant or the amount of foliage. This can be a little tricky when assessing the height of a graceful dendrobium, but remember, it’s the roots, not the leaves that dictate the size of the pot. 

If the orchid is growing and the roots have filled the pot, choose a pot about an inch or two larger. 

If many roots have died and the root system is small, adjust the pot size accordingly.

Growing Environment and Pots

If you live in a humid climate, clay pots can be a good choice as clay pots dry out more quickly than plastic pots. If your orchids tend to dry out quickly, opt for plastic pots.

TIP: Plastic pots can be unstable because they are so lightweight. One workaround is to add weight with stones or pieces of broken pot. (Which you may have on hand if you had to break your orchid out of its clay pot.)

Select Potting Mix

There are many types of planting media to choose from.  Everything from sphagnum moss to fir bark to coconut fiber, horticulture charcoal, perlite, aliflor or LECA (lightweight expanded clay aggregate), pumice, and rock wool can be used as planting media for orchids. 

I like to use a premium orchid potting mix sold by Bonsai Jack. This media is composed of 98% Fir bark, 1% horticulture charcoal, and 1% perlite. It is carefully screened, cleaned, and tested for pathogens and will last 1-2 years. When potting phalaenopsis orchids, I increase moisture retention by adding a couple of squares of wool rock

Why Fir Bark?

  • Closely replicates natural epiphytic growing habits.
  • The slow rate of decay
  • pH stability
  • Hard texture
  • Easy to customize with other materials: horticulture charcoal, large perlite, LECA, wool rock

Customize Fir Bark with Other Materials

  • Do you need your orchid roots to dry out more quickly? For a more open mix add horticulture charcoal. 
  • Do you need a barely damp potting mix? To retain moisture, add wool rock, sphagnum moss.

Note: use a high-quality sphagnum moss labeled, long-fiber, or 5-star.

Use This Chart to Choose the Correct Potting Media Components





Fir and Monterey bark is the most commonly used potting media for orchids. It is long-lasting, porous, and free-draining.

Clay Pellets (LECA, Aliflor, Hydroton)

Clay pellets are commonly added to mixes to prevent compaction and add drainage. Must be leached as it absorbs salts.

Coco Fiber & Coir

Coco fiber products are water retentive, yet have good aeration.

Cork Oak Chips

Cork is sustainable, does not absorb water, is free-draining and is long-lasting.

Horticulture Charcoal

Use as an additive to decrease moisture, increase drainage. It is a natural filter for impurities such as salts.

Lava Rock

Does not decompose, adds aeration, but must be leached as it does absorb salts.


Is used as an additive to increase water retention. Superior to Coco fiber products.


Used as an additive, volcanic origin, adds drainage. Similar properties to clay pellets.

Sphagnum Moss

Use the highest quality available, Very absorbent. Must leach as it does absorb salts.

Sponge Rock (Perlite)

Primarily used as an additive to increase aeration. Volcanic glass. 

Wool Rock

Used as an additive to increase water retention. Is make of spun glass. Use gloves, Is not addractive, so bury it in the mix.

Roots Determine Potting Mix

Orchid potting mixes come in sizes from coarse to medium, to fine. Orchids with thick roots grow best in coarse potting mix and finer roots do best in finer mixes. 

Generally speaking semi-terrestrial orchids such as paphiopedilum, Phragmipedium and cymbidium prefer finer mixes, with particles about ¼-inch. 

Medium-sized particles of about ½-inch are great for many popularly cultivated orchids like phalaenopsis, oncidium, cattleya, and dendrobium.

Vanda orchids are often grown without a potting mix, but if you do add a mix, use a coarse mix with 1-inch sized particles.

How to Re-Pot an Orchid in 7 Steps

1- Begin by UnPotting

To make the roots more pliable, soak the plant for about 5 minutes in water. Then, ease the plant out of its pot.  Orchids can become very attached to their pots and removing them can be a little tricky. 

Orchid roots will cling to clay.  You may have to break clay pots or cutaway plastic pots if the roots cling too tenaciously. A disposable razor blade is useful for detaching roots from the pot. Remove as much of the pot as possible, but it is okay if you leave some of the pot pieces clinging to the roots.

Reader Tip: How to Remove Orchid Roots Stuck to Terracotta

To remove roots from terra cotta, just take a razor blade and slide it right under the root and slide it upward close to the pot. I have done it many times, even to remove roots from my walls.

Candy Wert

Begin Un-potting the Orchid: Carefully remove the old potting mix from around the orchid roots.

2- Remove Old Potting Media

Do not reuse any of the old planting media.  Always use new media. This will help to prevent the spread of disease. New potting media will also give your orchids a fresh start, without fertilizer salt buildup. 

Pick the old planting media from the roots.

Orchids with thin, fine roots are a little more tricky than those with thick roots. It will take a bit more finesse to tease the potting medium out from finely rooted orchids.

Cutaway rot, remove dead leaves, rotten roots. Inspect the Pseudobulbs, remove old brown lifeless pseudobulbs, leave green pseudobulbs alone – even if leafless.

Dead roots are easily identifiable because they will be black or mushy. Healthy roots will be white or green and firm.

After picking away old potting media from the roots and trimming away dead roots, rinse the roots using tepid tap water.


3- Divide the Orchid

If the orchid is large enough to be divided, potting is the time to divide your orchids. Sympodial type orchids are most commonly divided. 

Sympodial orchids grow along a rhizome. Additionally, many, but not all, sympodial orchids have water storage in the form of pseudobulbs. 

When an orchid grows into a large and healthy specimen with multiple pseudobulbs, the orchid can be divided. Simply break apart pseudobulbs into clumps of 4 or 5 pseudobulbs. 

Pot up the clumps separately. You can share and trade your divided orchids. This is a great way to try new orchids and expand your collection.

NOTABLE EXCEPTION: Slipper orchids do not have pseudobulbs, but are sympodial and do grow along a rhizome.

4- Place the Orchid in the Pot

Properly orienting the orchid is important and is based on the growth habit of the orchid.

Before putting the orchid in the pot determine if you have a monopodial or a sympodial orchid. It is important to make this distinction before potting as it will make a difference when potting your orchid.

Here’s why it’s important to know the difference between monopodial and sympodial orchids when potting: 

Monopodial orchids will be placed in the center of the pot so that the orchid can continue to grow upwards. 

By contrast, sympodial orchids will be placed with the oldest growth placed against the edge of the pot. The new growth will point towards the center of the pot.

Monopodial Orchids

If you have purchased your orchid from the grocery store, you likely have a Phalaenopsis orchid, also called moth orchids. This type of orchid grows from a single stem. Out of this stem grow the leaves, flower stalk, and roots. Phalaenopsis, Angraceum, and Vanda orchids are examples of monopodial orchids.

When potting, situate monopodial orchids, like the Phalaenopsis in the center of the pot. 

potting Phalaenopsis orchid

The Phalaenopsis orchid is monopodial and grows from a single stalk.

Sympodial Orchids

On the other hand, place sympodial orchids, orchids growing along a horizontal rhizome, so that the oldest growth is against the edge of the pot and the newest growth points towards the center.

You may be wondering how to tell the difference between old and new growth. If you have a healthy plant, newer pseudobulbs should be larger than the oldest pseudobulbs. As the orchid matures, new pseudobulbs will grow larger than the ones grown the year previous, until the orchid reaches full maturity.

Another indicator of growth habit is the new leaf growth. Paphiopedilums do not have pseudobulbs, but the flower for the next year will always emerge from the newest leaves. Place the newest leaf growth toward the center of the pot and the oldest toward the edge. Over time, the orchid will continue to grow towards the opposite side of the pot.


Large, fleshy bulbs signify pseudobulbs on this Brassia orchid.

The slight bulges along the stems indicate pseudobulbs on this Dendrobium. Similar pseudobulbs grow on Cattleyas.

Young Orchid – Special Potting Notes

Young orchids grow much faster than more mature orchids and will need to be potted more frequently. In these cases, simply gently remove the young orchid out of its pot. There is no need to tease the roots to remove the old potting media.

Add fresh potting mix to the bottom of the new pot and place the slightly larger pot. Taking care not to damage any new growth, fill in the sides of the pot with more potting mix until the crown of the orchid is level with the lip of the pot and the young orchid fits snugly in the new pot.

5- Work in the Roots and Add Potting Media

Begin working in the roots until the base of the plant is at the top. 

After identifying the proper orientation for your orchid, you are ready to begin working in the roots and adding potting media.

  1. Begin to work the roots into the pot by turning the pot in one direction and turning the plant in the opposite direction. This action encourages the roots to curl into the pot. 
  2. Meanwhile, add more potting media as you go. 
  3. Tamp and pat the pot to remove air voids.  Poke a chopstick around to fill in any gaps.
  4. Continue to tap and gently shake the pot to encourage the potting media to settle into the pot.
  5. As the crown of the plant prefers to stay dry, it should be just above the planting media. Likewise, aerial roots, those roots that are growing out of the potting media, should also remain in the air, and out of the potting media.

Use a chopstick to compact the potting mix and fill air holes.

Note: Vanda orchids are monopodial orchids and are usually placed in a wood-slatted basket with coarse potting media.

6-  Secure the Orchid

After potting, orchid roots tend to push up and lift themselves out of the pot. Not only does this look bad, but the roots at the top will dry out faster than the roots nestled down in the potting mix.

For sympodial orchids, use rhizome clips to secure the orchid to the proper potting heights. To use the clips, one end snaps down on the side of the pot while the long end holds the orchid in place. 

In the case of monopodial orchids, as they do not grow rhizomes, just be sure to pot them at the proper level with the base of the stem seated just above the potting media.

7- Update the Label

To finish up, write the potting date on the label and stick it to the bottom of the orchid pot. Never rely on your memory to tell you when you’ve potted. Write it down. 

Some Orchids Recover Slowly From Repotting 

Take extra care with orchids that don’t like repotting such as the Dendrobium. There are a few precautions you can take:

  1. Take extra care not to disturb their roots. Just lift the orchid out of the pot – as gently as possible – and set it into a new, larger pot with fresh potting mix.
  2. For these touchy orchids, it is that much more important to use a premium potting mix so that you don’t need to re-pot as frequently.
  3. For orchids that grow well in slatted cedar baskets, you can just place the orchid in a larger basket without taking it out of the smaller basket.

Don’t Want to Pot? Mount Your Orchid

Mounting an orchid is a great option for those who really don’t want to pot and re-pot their orchids, particularly if you live in a climate with high humidity. An orchid mount can last for years and years – as long as the mount does not decompose, there is no need to remount the orchid. Another benefit to mounting is that the orchid is grown in its most natural environment. 

In short, the presentation of a mounted orchid is simply stunning.

Mounting Materials

  • A hardwood slab such as oak, grape, cypress knees, untreated cedar, redwood, or freshwater driftwood 
  • Do not use walnut, treated wood or saltwater driftwood
  • Sphagnum moss – moistened, live sheet moss
  • Fishing line – choose one without color
  • 16 gauge galvanized wire

Mounting Tools

  • Drill
  • Pliers

How to Attach an Orchid to the Mount in 5 Steps

  1. Un-pot your orchid, cleaning and opening up the roots so they can be wrapped around the mount.
  2. If you would like to hang your mount, drill a small hole on one end and thread the wire through the hole and form a loop from which to hang the mount. If you don’t intend to hang the mount, skip this step.
  3. To help the orchid transition from the pot to the mount, place the moistened sphagnum moss or live sheet moss on the slab of wood.
  4. Place the orchid on top of the sphagnum moss or sheet moss, wrapping the roots around the mount. Sympodial orchids should be placed with the oldest pseudobulb at the top of the mount. This way, as the orchid grows, the rhizome will grow downward, and in time, cover the mount.
  5. Secure the orchid to the mount by wrapping the fishing line around the orchid and the mount. Add extra moss to protect the orchid roots and keep the fishing line from cutting into the roots.

Special Care Requirements for Mounted Orchids

Don’t skimp on humidity if you’re growing mounted orchids. Water vapor – humidity – will help keep the roots from drying out. Aim for humidity levels at a minimum of at least 50%.

Daily misting is a must. Just remember when misting your orchids to mist the roots, not the leaves.

As orchids are intended to live on their mounts for a long time, fertilizer salts will build up. It’s easy to tell when salts are too high because the orchid’s root tips will turn brown. To leach salts, soak the mount in distilled water. When soaking the mount in distilled water, take care that the orchid floats on top. 

How to Care for An Orchid After Potting – Or Mounting

For 2 weeks let the orchid rest/recover, semi-shade, increase humidity, no fertilizer, do not overwater. After 2 weeks, rest is over – return the orchid to its normal growing environment. Feed and water normally.


Freshly potted, this orchid won’t need re-potting for 1-2 years.

To help you further, start by downloading my free cheat sheet to see where to cut the orchid flower spike after blooms have faded to trigger re-blooming. Click here, for the cheat sheet. It’ll be super helpful.

top tools

Here’s a list of the tools I use to pot my orchids:

Top Tools for RePotting Orchids

Potting Orchids Just Got Easier


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  1. Joan says:

    Very clear instructions. Now I can try to improve my orchids. Thank you .

    1. Anna says:

      Thanks Joan!
      Best of luck with your orchids. Let me know if you have any questions!

      1. Laura Schmidt says:

        Will they come back orchids

        1. Anna says:

          Yes they will. Some orchid flowers have been dyed–the “gem” orchids you see in the grocery store for instance. When they rebloom, the flowers are usually white, but they are orchids.

          1. Jessica says:

            Hi, I have a few questions.
            First I had one root come out the bottom of the plastic container and it was sitting in water within my ceramic pot and I lost it to root rot. I have removed what I could without re-potting as it’s currently flowing and and some new buds are about to open. But the rotted root is still tangled within my health ones. Is that ok? Or does root rot spread?
            Second question, there is sap beads on my flower stem, is that a sign of a problem?
            The plant looks healthy apart from the one rotted root.

          2. Anna says:

            Since you have trimmed off what you can of the rotted root, the orchid should be fine.
            The sap beads on your flower stems is called honeydew and is secreted by healthy plants. Just keep a watch on it as it can sometimes lead to sooty mold, which can be a sign of sucking insects, like mealybugs, aphids, mites. In short, since the honeydew is clear, you don’t need to do anything, but enjoy your healthy orchid.

  2. Leigh says:

    What do I do about roots that have grown through the holes of an orchid pot? Some of them are quite long (6-8″) Also, some of the roots are quite adherent to the sides of the pot.

    1. Anna says:

      It is perfectly fine for the roots to grow through the holes. That’s just what orchid roots do. You don’t need to do anything about those roots. And, yes again, orchid roots will stick to the pot–terracotta pots in particular. This just means that when potting your orchid you will need to use extra care.
      Have a great day!

  3. Anonymous says:

    First you say that Phalaenopsis is monopodial and later on you say to plant it in the center of the pot, I’m confused. Also, how much bigger a bot do you recommend? Thanks

    1. Anna says:

      I appreciate your comment so much! It is my goal to be as clear as I can about caring for orchids. I have revisited this post and updated it in an effort to clarify the information. Monopodial orchids (like Phaleanopsis) are potted in the center of the pot, while sympodial orchids are potted with the oldest pseudobulbs potted on the side of the pot, leaving room for newer growth toward the center. When potting an orchid, go up just one size larger.
      Please let me know if you have any further questions.

  4. Tatjana says:

    Hi Anna,
    I agree with previous poster, there are still some parts of your instructions that contradict each other, for example in the cursive writing early on when you explain the difference between the orchid types (“Why it is important to know the difference”). I gather it’s the other way round for placement? You also call a Phaleanopsis a monopodial orchid in some places and a sympodial in others.
    That being said, I found the instructions very helpful once I figured out what is what.

    1. Anna says:

      Thank you so much for bringing this to my attention. I’ve combed through the post (again) and I think I’ve got it fixed.
      Many thanks,

  5. Rasa says:

    That’s a great guide. I had no idea orchids liked to be cramped in their pots..! May be the reason a couple of them have stopped blooming/growing. Thanks!

    1. Anna says:

      It was great to hear from you. Keep in touch. I’d love to hear how your orchids progress.

      1. Ella says:

        This was news to me too – should I repot my orchids into smaller pots or just let them grow into their existing pots? I’d rather wait to see them bloom than risk disturbing them too much, but would like to know if they’ll still be healthy in a too-large pot?

        1. Anna says:

          Great question. Once an orchid has reached maturity, it can be repotted indefinitely in the same pot. Unless it looks like its climbing out of its pot, it can stay in the same pot. If it does look like it’s climbing out, go up one pot size. For instance, go from a 4″ to a 5″ diameter pot.
          Please, let me know if you have any more questions.

  6. Rose says:

    Thanks for such clear instructions.

    1. Anna says:

      You’re welcome! Please, let my know if you have any questions about potting your orchids.

  7. Debra says:

    Do you soak the new potting medium before you replant?

    1. Anna says:

      Yes, you can soak the medium before potting, Just be sure to let it drain for a few hours before potitng.

  8. Larissa says:

    Hi Anna,

    One of my Phaleanopsis orchids has a LOT of air roots and I’m not sure what to do with them or if this is indicative of some other issue (not getting enough nutrients in the main roots, maybe?)

    Some info about the plant:
    -I have had it for about 3 years
    -I have never repotted or fertilized
    -has re-flowered every ~6 months
    -pot height (covered roots) is about 5 inches
    -air roots (probably 10-15 of them) span ~3-4 inches above pot, and then leaves are above air roots (makes the whole plant look a bit top heavy and unstable)
    -air roots looks healthy (firm greenish-silver)

    Thanks for all the help!

    1. Anna says:

      To encourage new orchid roots to grow into the potting mix, you could repot is once it has finished blooming. Just remember not to pot the aerial roots or to trim them off (only trim away dead roots). Also, after potting expect some recovery time.
      Follow this link to learn more about aerial roots: HOW TO UNDERSTAND THOSE CURIOUS ORCHID ROOTS
      Sounds like your orchid is doing great–blooming every six months for you!

  9. Anonymous says:

    Hi Anna,

    The crown of my phal is sitting about 1-1/2 in. above the top of the planting medium, and has 5 leaves on either side. The top of the plant is about 6″ taller than the top of the pot. It is blooming twice a year and the leaves and roots look healthy. Do I need to re-pot as it grows taller? Tricia

    1. Anna says:


      I love that your orchid is blooming twice a year for you! Sounds like you are an excellent care-giver. And, thanks for the question about repotting your orchid.

      Repotting your Phal is a chance to pot your orchid so that the crown sits on the potting mix, rather than a couple of inches above. As you’ve observed, as more leaves grow Phals can get top heavy.

      Of even more importance, repotting is an opportunity to refresh your orchid’s potting mix. Over time, potting mix breaks down, inhibiting adequate air circulation to the roots. Repotting gives the roots a fresh start with beneficial air flow.

      I recommend using a fir bark-based potting mix. Tools for RePotting Orchids

      Thanks for reaching out!

  10. Ashleigh says:

    My orchid grew an orchid on one of the flower spikes. The parent plant and baby are both blooming so I know I need to wait until they’re done blooming before I do anything, but how do I plant an orchid from a stem???

    1. Anna says:


      Do you know what variety of orchid you are growing? I’d love for you to send me a picture if you can: [email protected]

      Before removing your keiki, wait until the leaves and roots are at least a couple of inches long. In fact, the longer you leave your keiki on the mother plant, the better chance that the keiki will survive.

      Here’s how to remove your keiki (baby orchid):
      Using sterilized shears, cut about an inch above and below the keiki.

      Loosely pot the keiki in mini orchid potting mix. Be careful not to over water as these roots are used to absorbing moisture from the air.

      Here’s a link for mini and seedling orchid potting mix:

      Miniature and Seedling Orchid Mix

      Let me know how it goes!

  11. Tony says:


    You say to trim away dead roots. The roots on my Phal are pretty long and have snapped in some places… I feel as though it’s almost impossible to avoid this. So imagine this long root that has snapped in half and it’s decaying on one side of the break… is it best to just strip the decaying fleshy part? It’s obviously not the most aesthetically pleasing thing in the world since it looks like two green beans strung together on a thread, spaced an inch or so apart… but the rest seems healthy… or should I just chop off the root above the decaying part? (I hope that makes sense lol)

    Also… how do I prevent the exposed tissue from rotting after trimming a root? Even if I let it dry a bit and callus over, it seems to start rotting as soon as I get it wet.


    1. Anna says:

      Your description gave me a chuckle! If the root is bothering you, just cut it off. If the orchid is otherwise healthy, removing one root isn’t going to damage the plant. Don’t worry about watering the aerial roots. They are accustomed to getting the moisture they need from the air and will be fine without extra water. Watering from the bottom may help to keep the aerial roots dry, thereby preventing rot on a newly cut root tip.
      Best of luck with your green bean root growing orchid!

  12. Sandra Guevara says:

    i need to repot some of my orchid plants. So, where can I purchase larger plastic insert cups.

    1. Anna says:

      Here’s an affiliate link for large plastic insert cups. At no additional cost to you, I do receive a commission if you purchase through that link. Those are the liner pots I use.
      Large Slotted Clear Orchid Pots
      Hope that helps,

  13. Judith Yates says:

    I have a vanda that is in a glass vase. No potting mix or in standing water. It hasn’t bloomed in 2 yrs, what is the correct way this plant should be potted

    1. Anna says:

      I don’t grow Vandas as my growing conditions won’t suit. That said, most growers grow Vandas in wood slotted baskets specially made for Vandas. Potting mix is usually large-size Fir bark. If you live in Florida, or somewhere with a similar climate, you can grow them outdoors, watering the roots daily.

      Here is a link for Vanda baskets. If you purchase through this link, at no additional cost to you, I will receive a commission.
      Vanda Baskets

      I hope you get some flower soon!

  14. Anonymous says:

    Thank you very much for your clear instructions,,,,I have had orchids for many years but three years ago moved to Fl and have increased my collection …..Always looking to improve . Joan

    1. Anna says:

      It was great to hear from you! Yes, you live in the perfect environment for growing orchids! Have fun increasing your collection!
      Let my know if I can answer any questions about caring for orchids. I’m always happy to help.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Very helpful information.

  16. Lynda says:

    How do you fix the leaves if they are broken from being too heavy

    1. Anna says:

      I haven’t ever encountered this problem before where the leaves are too heavy. It is quite normal, however, for the flower stalks to become heavy. In this case you can stake the flower stalk with a thin bamboo stake and fasten the flower stalk to the stake with a hair clip. Email me: [email protected]. With a picture and I’ll try to help better answer your question.

  17. Katharine says:

    I have a beautiful phal orchid. The flowers have dropped after about three months. It is potted in sphagnum moss and last night the leaves toppled over. I found the crown had turned black but the leaves were strong and firm and the stem for the flowers is still green. I trimmed the black stuff off and put the leaves in water. Maybe it will root??? Maybe??? Try it if it works bonus if not I will toss it. My question is if the stem is green and the roots are ok will it grow leaves back?

    1. Anna says:

      Time will tell…Let me know how it goes. Phalaenopsis are sensitive to crown rot. As a preventative measure, when watering try to keep water from settling down inside the leaves. I’m curious to know if your orchid will grow new leaves. Keep us posted.

  18. Doris Stinn says:

    should my new pot have drain holes ? also can I just use a bigger pot without the plastic insert?

    1. Anna says:

      As orchids do not like to sit in water, your pot should have drainage holes. Plastic inserts are nice because they allow you to see the orchid’s roots and the potting media, but they are not absolutely necessary. Also, if you pot in terracotta, which some orchid growers prefer, note that the roots will stick to the clay – which can make repotting tricky.

  19. Susan says:

    I just repotted 3 Phalaneopsis. I buried the aerial roots in bark medium then watered them. I was not aware of crown rot and aerial roots being left on top. Shoiuld I repot them again and leave the roots on top?

    1. Anna says:

      While the aerial roots are most suited to being left out in the air, they will be fine potted. I wouldn’t worry about that.

      About the stem, when watering, just be careful not to let water accumulate in the crown, if possible.

      Also, if your orchids seem to be drying out too fast you can poke a bit of sphagnum moss around in the mix. Fir bark is a wonderful, popular mix, that I use myself but it is very fast-draining – especially when new.

      Let me know how it goes.

  20. Anne Baker says:

    I love my Phalaneopsis orchids. I have a question about one of my healthy double stem that I’ve had for several years. The plant is healthy in a good size cachet pot with plenty of drainage with loose bark medium. It seems that I have a second quite healthy plant that is now growing beside the original plant. Can I safely separate it out for a new plant? Is it unusual for a Phalaneopsis to grow another plant in the same pot ?
    Thanks so much,

    1. Anna says:

      What you have growing is called a keiki – a baby orchid. It is an exact clone of the mother plant. The decision to remove the plantlet is based on whether or not the keiki has its own roots. If it does, you can remove it and pot it up. If it does not have its own root system leave it as-is. Keikis without their own roots are called basal keikis. These are fun to watch. I have a basal keiki growing a flower stalk right now…so fun.


    What is the best way to remove orchids from the wooden baskets without harming the roots. They are tangled around the basket.

    1. Anna says:

      If possible, simply leave the vanda in the old basket and place it in a larger basket. Do not coil the roots around the new basket as these orchids will grow best if their roots are open and unrestricted. To secure the smaller basket to the larger one, wire the two baskets together.

      If the basket it is in has rotted, you may need to remove the wooden basket. Here’s what to do: soak the roots in water for several minutes. This will make the roots more pliable. Since the roots are tangled around the wooden basket, you will need to take the basket apart. If it becomes necessary to cut the roots, be sure to sterilize your pruners under a flame or with rubbing alcohol.

      If you can simply place the smaller basket inside a larger one, the roots will be less disturbed than if you have to dismantle the basket.


  22. Connie says:

    I received an orchid as a gift. The plastic container has no holes for drainage, but the plant is covered in blooms so re-potting now doesn’t seem like the right thing to do. Should I poke holes in the current plastic pot until time to repot?

    1. Anna says:

      Yes, cut some holes in the plastic pot. Without drainage, the orchid’s roots will rot.

      1. Margaret says:

        Thank you for your helpfull info regards

  23. Sharon Henry Montour says:

    I found your information very helpful, but I’m confused that orchids prefer to be crammed into a tight place. Some orchids grow on tree bark in the open! I have some Phal’s that have been blooming nicely. I just repotted after the flowers dropped but I was hoping I could plant 3 together in one large pot. This may not be a good idea? Also, I was wondering if they could be replanted into a natural Coco liner in a hanging basket. I live in GA and after wintering them indoors under a grow light (they bloomed profusely!) I now have them on my patio table, protected from full sun. The temps have been 80-90 degrees. Will that hurt them? Thanks again.

    1. Anna says:

      You are right that orchids can do very well mounted on a slab. Yet, dendrobiums, for instance, notoriously like to be underpotted. One reason for small pots is that they allow the potting media to dry out between watering – you don’t want the center of the pot to stay too wet. Orchid mounts allow a lot of air circulation to the roots and keep the roots from staying too wet. On the flip side, mounted orchids to need to be watered more frequently than potted orchids. The idea behind a small pot is that it is better to have to water more frequently than to have potting media that doesn’t dry out. Both cattleyas and dendrobiums notoriously like to dry out a bit between watering. Phalaneopsis, on the other hand, like their roots to be damp, but not wet.

      I am all about experimentation, you could definitely try potting several orchids into a single pot, just be sure to use well-draining potting mix. I have not used coco as a potting medium, so I can’t give you any personal experience. If you want to try it and have a source for inexpensive phalaenopsis orchids, I say go for it.

      As far as growing them outdoors in the summer, it is the best thing you can do for your orchids. Always keep an eye on them (for sunburn, drying out, and temperature highs and lows) and keep them out full sun. My outdoor orchids do have a bit of sunburn on some the leaves that I need to remove. As far as highs and lows, 90sF/31C is a little high, and bring them in when temperatures dip below 55F/17C. One thing that you have going for you in Georgia that I lack is high humidity, your orchids will love that – especially at night!


  24. Newbie says:

    can I switch the medium? i have a solid terra pot and can’t tell what medium there is but looks like it has moss on top. can I switch from moss to bark?
    thank you.

    1. Anna says:

      Yes, you can switch potting media. Although many people successfully grow orchids in sphagnum moss, fir bark is a better medium for potted orchids. If the bark dries out too quickly, try adding a bit of wool rock.

    2. Vickie Griffin says:

      Anna I am new to Orchids but I love them. I bought one from Wal-Mart two years ago it was in bloom when I brought it home once the flowers died off it grew pretty good. Now I’m beginning to have problems I do not see any roots in the pot like any of the pictures I’ve seen. The leaves I noticed yesterday has like ripples in them. I have new leaves growing but the air roots that grow within a day or two turn brown and die. I water it about every 10 days like the card said when I bought it. It has never re-bloomed. I’m new to growing them but I want to at least keep this one alive due to I love them and would like to get more if I can keep this one alive. I need help and can I repot it in the same little container it came in?

      1. Anna says:

        My first recommendation is to pot your orchid in new potting media. This will give you a chance to examine the roots. If the roots are limp and have turned to mush, you’ll know that your orchid is overwatered. If, on the other hand, the roots are brittle and a light tan – your orchid is underwatered.

        After potting, keep in mind that the roots of a phalaenopsis orchid want to be barely damp. If your orchid has lost a lot of roots, it will take a while for new roots to grow.

        Healthy, upright leaves are a clear indication that the roots are healthy and that you are watering properly. Watch for new leaves as the old leaves will never regain the stiffness of healthy leaves. However, if you are watering properly, the new leaves should be upright and stiff.

        After new and healthy roots and leaves grow, you can prepare your orchid to bloom again. Click on the link below for tips on how to give your orchid the right amount of light and the right temperature to trigger blooming.


        Don’t give up!
        Enjoy the journey,

  25. KC says:

    Hi, I have two questions!

    (1) I’m about to repot my first orchid (phalaenopsis). I received it as a gift in February and it finished blooming a few weeks ago and has been putting out new aerial roots. Some of the other sources on repotting that I’ve read say you should soak the wood medium in a dilute bleach-water mix first, just to make sure you’re getting rid of all the bad stuff. Have you found that to be necessary in your experience?

    (2) My orchid has a double spike. I was going to trim them as you suggest in your article, but both spikes seem to be putting out new branches at their top nodes. Should I not trim them then?

    1. Anna says:

      I don’t soak my orchid potting mix in a bleach-water solution before potting. I do use sterilized pruning shears and new potting media as cleanliness is an important part of good orchid care. I do use and recommend Bonsai Jack’s Orchid Potting Mix. All of Jack’s potting materials are scrupulously clean. His products are rinsed, washed, insect inspected, dried, Ph tested, moisture retention tested, moisture release tested, nematode tested.

      Trimming the flower spikes is a matter of preference. Once the spike starts to look gangly, then trim it back to the crown. The flowers on a new flower spike are larger and more numerous than flowers from a spike that continues to produce flowers on the end.

      Thank you for your thoughtful questions!
      All my best,

  26. KC says:

    Thanks so much for your response! I repotted today using some orchid fir bark mix from a local nursery. I used the same plastic pot but cleaned it out with soap and water and rinsed with rubbing alcohol. I also trimmed the spikes (with sterilized shears) to above the top nodes where the new branches are growing and dipped the cut ends in cinnamon just in case that old wives tale is actually true. If it blooms out of those new branches, I’ll cut the spikes all the way back when it’s done. Then I spritzed a little fertilizer on it. We’ll see how it goes! This is the first orchid I’ve managed to keep alive, so it can’t end worse than the others XD

    1. Anna says:

      Yay! Congratulations KC! Give your orchid time to adjust to re-potting.

  27. Steph says:

    I have always loved and admired orchids from a distance but never bought one due to their level of care. I received one as a gift about 2 maybe 3yrs ago and when the blooms fell the first yr I wasnt very optimistic that new ones would grow. But they did, and I fell in love all over again. Moving forward, I noticed the leaves started to shrivel and when I investigated had massive root rot due to over watering. Not knowing the info I know now, I let it dry out and just put it deeper down into the medium. Well she seems to be bouncing back with new growth. I’ve bought all my material to repot and have been tring to gather all the info I need to do it. So now armed with your website I feel highly capable of getting my girl back healthy. Thanks so much for all this info!

    1. Anna says:

      Thanks so much for sharing! Now that you know you were overwatering you are well-equipped to be able to move forward with your orchid.

  28. Teresa C. says:

    Thank you! Excellent information. I can’t wait to try to repot and save a couple of my orchids. I am challenged living in arid Colorado, but nothing ventured – nothing gained! I did order the Rockwool cubes!

    1. Anna says:

      Yes! Wool rock isn’t the prettiest, but it has helped my orchids in arid UT. (Use gloves when handling the wool rock.)

  29. Jean Darnell says:

    Is there a homemade recipe for orchid fertilizer? I bought some from the store but the mix is 1/4 tsp to a gallon. I only have ONE orchid! It’s in my kitchen window. I’ve had it about a year and its still living!😊

    1. Anna says:

      Great question. I have heard of people who use aquarium water from their fish tanks to water their orchids. You can try this with a few notes of caution.
      1. check the pH. Orchids prefer a pH value between 5.5 and 6.5
      2. a good sign that the water is okay for orchids is if plants are growing and are healthy in the aquarium
      3. check to be sure there are no fungal or bacterial infections in the tank
      4. many pet stores will check aquarium water for free if that is where you buy your fish.
      It may be easier to buy a small balanced fertilizer 😉

  30. Anne says:

    I am wondering if you can plant more than 1 planting a pot? I have 2 healthy grocery store orchids and am thinking about repotting them together.

    1. Anna says:

      Here is an article on potting multiple orchids in a single pot –
      Wishing you the best,

  31. Evalie Lockard says:

    I have repotted two orchids that have been successfully reblooming for the past year. However, I find that now I can no longer see the roots to determine whether or not to water. I changed media and am not confident that I am able to determine the difference between damp and dry as well as I could with the old. It seems I have placed myself in a pickle. Do you have any suggestions for how I can better understand the watering needs of my orchids? Thank you for such clear information!

    1. Anna says:

      If the potting mix is fresh and open, you will never have trouble with overwatering. If the mix has started to deteriorate, the mix will hold more water and less oxygen. If you need to know if the mix is wet, you can stick a wooden skewer down into the mix for a few minutes. If the skewer comes out wet – you know you can wait to water.
      I hope this helps.
      All my best,

  32. Chris says:

    I have a Paph, Super Spots that was overwatered, roots brown and mushy. I cut off all of the bad roots which left me with a very small base at the bottom of the leaves. I put it in a much smaller pot with smaller bark. What else can I do to save this baby?

    1. Anna says:

      Here is a link to humidity, at the bottom of the post, you can read some specific information on how to create a humidity tent to treat an orchid that has experienced root loss.

      Wishing you the very best,

  33. Siobhan says:

    Hi Anna, I have Phalaenopsis orchids, I have had them for 3-4 years and repotted 2x. I am in SW Florida during winter and when I leave in the spring I hang them under a Pygmy date Palm in slotted wood baskets lined with coco husk and orchid potting medium. This year 1 of the two broke, it was actually a large Kiki with leaves and lots of roots, so I just popped it into another basket.
    Is it ok to use burlap to fill spaces between the liner (also burlap in this case) and the basket? Or will this hold too much water and cause rot?
    They look ratty in the fall when we return and pull them out into the lanai but after cleanup and fertilizer- they come back quickly. My plants bloomed this year with 25-30+ flowers each – they have gotten a little unruly but still beautiful.
    Please let me know if I should switch out the burlap, I am still in FL for a few days.
    Thank you.

    1. Anna says:

      I think I would forget about using the extra burlap. Do you have any neighbors who grow their orchids outdoors who could advise? Talking to someone who grows their orchids in the same climate could give you valuable information. I live in Utah and grow my orchids indoors – a very different climate.

  34. Amy U says:

    Hi Anna-
    Thanks for the great advice. This novice appreciates it.
    One question. I repotted my moth orchid (without doing any research) into regular potting soil. It is THRIVING. It has at least 25 blooms. and multiple flower spikes!
    Now that I have looked at your site, I am considering repotting it the correct way. Or should I just leave it? I am shocked that is doing so well in the soiland am scared to mess with its’ success….thought?

    1. Anna says:

      I’d keep an eye on the roots and see what happens. Use care not to overwater.

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