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What to Do with Used Orchid Potting Bark

June 13, 2012

When repotting Phalaenopsis amabilis orchids, which should be done every one to two years, orchid experts recommend using fresh potting media. Used orchid potting materials should never be used to repot an orchid; nor should spent potting media be used to pot other orchids or house plants. Orchid experts offer two very good reasons for this advice:

  1. Potting media for Phalaenopsis orchids is coarse-cut to encourage the healthy air flow and fast drainage that keep orchid roots healthy. As coarse planting materials break down, particles become smaller and more compact, eventually impairing air flow and proper drainage.

  2. Daily living exposes house and office plants to bacteria, viruses, pests and fungus that are ever-present in our environment. Even an orchid that appears to be healthy may be harboring diseases or pests. The risk of inadvertently infecting a new plant, whether an orchid or another type of house plant, by potting it in used media or by mixing used orchid media into its soil, is too high compared to the inconsequential expense of using fresh potting media.

How to dispose of used potting bark

If your orchid is healthy and you are repotting it to accommodate new growth, the used planting media can be composted or tilled into the soil of an outdoor flower or vegetable garden. However, if your orchid is diseased or infected by pests or shows any signs of distress, the used potting materials should be disposed of in the garbage to prevent spreading the problem to other orchids and plants.

To find out more about repotting orchids, watch our orchid care video.