Disinfecting isn’t just for keeping humans healthy. Orchids need it, too. Properly disinfecting cutting tools, pots and your hands helps prevent the spread of disease when you’re trimming your blooms or repotting.
Follow these sterilization tips to help keep your Phalaenopsis orchid healthy.
Before touching your orchid, it’s always a good idea to wash your hands with soap and water to avoid transferring any bacteria or viruses to the plant.
Trimming away certain areas of your orchid is necessary to encourage reblooming, and having sterile tools is a vital component to the process. After washing your tools with soap and water, there are several options for disinfecting them:
- Use an open flame: Light an alcohol lamp or the burner of a gas stove and hold the tools in the flame for a few seconds.
- Use TSP or bleach: If you don’t have access to an open flame, you can use a trisodium phosphate solution (TSP) or a solution of water and bleach. Fill a container with enough solution to cover the entire blade and dip the tools.
- Use Rubbing Alcohol: Wipe the blades with a cotton ball saturated with rubbing alcohol. For more detailed instructions on how to use the above methods, check out this post.
Not only do sterilized tools and hands help keep orchids healthy, sterilized pots play an important role as well.
If you’re using a plastic pot to repot your orchid, clean the pot with soap and water to remove any debris. Then combine one cup of bleach with one gallon of water and submerge the pot in a clean bucket for at least an hour. When finished, rinse the pot and wash with dish detergent and water.
If a clay pot is more your style, you can sterilize it using the instructions above. After the pot has finished soaking in the bleach solution and has been rinsed, you’ll want to place the dry pot on a cookie sheet and preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Bake the pot for two hours. Clay pots are porous and bleach alone doesn’t kill many viruses, which is why baking the pot is necessary.
Once the pot has been removed from the oven and cooled, rehydrate it by soaking it in a clean bucket of water for several hours. This will prevent the pot from wicking moisture away from your orchid’s roots.
Looking for more ways to keep your orchid healthy? Download our free guide for more tips!