Plants 101

How To Repot an Orchid

While the average tropical houseplant should be repotted about once a year in fresh potting mix, Phalaenopsis orchids are a whole different repotting scenario. Here’s how to know when it's time to repot your Orchid, and how to do it successfully.

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If you’ve had your Phalaenopsis orchid for quite some time (go, you!), you may be wondering where to begin with repotting it. Orchids have a bit of a different repotting process than our standard repotting guide, but don't worry – we got you covered!

In order to get started, you should keep an eye out for signs that it's time to repot your orchid. Generally speaking, your orchid should be repotted every 1–2 years or if the potting media begins to smell. And be sure to wait until your orchid is resting to repot it—meaning when it is not in bloom.

Still not sure? Here are some telltale signs that it’s time to get repotting:

1. It’s overgrown

If you take a look into your orchid’s container and notice that the roots seem too crowded together, it’s time to repot. Other signs include the roots growing up from the plant stem or overflowing over the side of the pot.

2. Potting mix goes bad

When your orchid uses up all of the nutrients from the potting mix or soil it’s in, it will eventually begin breaking down into compost. Like we mentioned earlier, 1–2 years is our general repotting timeline, but sometimes potting mix may decay sooner, especially if your current pot doesn’t drain properly. If you smell something funky, repot sooner rather than later.

3. The roots look tightly tangled

Orchids’ roots typically grow much closer than other houseplants’ roots, which may make it seem as if they are tangled. As long as your orchid’s roots are intertwined and overlapping loosely, you can wait to repot. If the roots are tangled tightly, it’s time to repot.

Once you know when your orchid is ready to be repotted, you can follow the following steps:

1. Remove any materials

Remove any stakes in the soil and detach your orchid from any clips.

2. Trim any dead material

If there's a dead stem on your orchid, be sure to cut the stem at the bottom node. If you have a healthy plant, cut 1" above the node to promote new growth.

3. Remove orchid

Next, carefully remove the orchid from its pot.

4. Trim any dying roots

Once you've removed your orchid from its pot and get a good look at its roots, be sure to trim any dying or decaying roots. Look out for any roots that are brown or especially soft.

5. Add cinnamon

After you've removed dead roots, sprinkle cinnamon on the roots. This helps prevent any infection.

6. Get repotting

Place your orchid in a pot 1-2" larger in diameter than its original pot, and then add in new orchid potting mix. Orchids are not potted in regular indoor potting soil, but instead an orchid-specific porous mix that can include sphagnum moss, fir bark, coconut husk, and tree fern fibers.

7. Resume normal care

After your orchid is all settled in its new container, place it back in its usual spot and continuing watering as you would.

Words By The Sill

Empowering all people to be plant people—a collection of articles from The Sill’s team of plant experts across a variety of plant care topics to inspire confidence in the next generation of plant parents. Welcome to Plant Parenthood™.

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