Phalaenopsis orchids obtain moisture and nutrients from their potting medium through plant roots. Orchids are typically potted in loose, coarse fir bark mixed with other organic materials such as sphagnum peat and moss. Light, coarse and airy, such materials provide the rapid drainage and beneficial root aeration that Phalaenopsis orchids require.
Why Repot Your Orchid?
Over time, organic materials break down. As particles become small, finer and more tightly packed, the growing medium is unable to supply the orchid with sufficient nutrition. Air is no longer able to circulate around the orchid’s roots properly. Worst of all, fine, silty soils retain more water; enveloping orchid roots in perpetual moisture, which can quickly lead to root rot and/or the development of fungal disease.
As a general rule of thumb, Phalaenopsis orchids should be repotted every one to two years. Inspect your orchid plant periodically. Look carefully at the texture of the potting medium. If it appears to be breaking down or compacting, it’s time to repot. To check for excess moisture accumulation, remove the clear plastic grower pot from the decorative pot and inspect the plant’s roots. Healthy Phalaenopsis orchid roots should be a healthy green color. If roots look brown or soft, they are drowning in too much water. Roots that have turned a grayish-white are not receiving enough water.
Healthy Orchid Roots
New Phalaenopsis orchid owners often mistake the plants natural, tangled growing pattern as a sign that their orchid is pot-bound and in need of repotting. As long as roots are loosely twisting and overlapping – the normal growth pattern for moth orchids – you can wait to repot. Tightly tangled roots indicate that your orchid needs repotting. Repotting every year or two will provide your orchid with the nutrients it needs to flourish and bloom.