New Orchids: To Repot or Not? That is the Question

Most orchid nerds will tell you that you should repot any brand new orchid almost as soon as you bring it home. This is recommended so that you can take a good look at the orchid’s root system and cut away any rotten roots (see my post on identifying healthy vs. unhealthy roots). Conversely, you may find a really nice set of roots like these:

Photo credit: velvetdahlia, Flickr

You may have also heard not to repot an orchid while it’s in bloom. So, what exactly are you supposed to do with these two conflicting pieces of advice when you bring home a new orchid that is in bloom, like my latest orchid purchase?

I posed this question on the Orchid Board and got some good feedback. Basically, the consensus is to think long term. The problem with repotting an orchid while in bloom is that the blooms may shrivel and fall off more quickly than they would if you left it alone. But, if you don’t repot that orchid you won’t have the chance to check out its root system, so the plant as a whole might not last long if the roots are in bad shape.

So if you’re super attached to those blooms RIGHT NOW, don’t repot. Just be aware that your orchid may or may not  be healthy. If you want your orchid to live as long a life as possible, repot it and get rid of rotten roots. You might lose the blooms, you might not. To me, this is a risk worth taking. If I can maintain my orchid’s overall health, I’ll be able to enjoy its pretty blooms again and again in the future.

That paph I bought yesterday? I repotted it this morning, and I’m so glad that I did. About half of its roots were rotten so I cut them away.

My paph’s roots, pre-trimming

Plus, the orchid came packed super tightly in moss, a situation that restricts air flow and increases the likelihood of root rot. Therefore, when I repotted the plant I only used about half the moss that it came in. Fingers crossed that it keeps its blooms!

4 Responses to “New Orchids: To Repot or Not? That is the Question”
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