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The Truths About Orchid Potting

Jan 23, 2008
With the appearance of the long-awaited first orchid in his greenhouse, the amateur quite justifiably feels a warm glow of achievement and pride. He will find, however, that this is no time to bask in the glory of the moment, for, almost overnight, the greenhouse has quickened with life.

New growths glow a healthy red and the emerald-green tips of new roots peep from the potting mixture and even from breaks that are apparently dead roots. These are signals that the potting season is at hand.

The demand of the orchid for periodic repotting is a characteristic setting it apart from other plants grown under artificial conditions. It is common to most orchids out of their native environment. Just as important as housing and balance, repotting may appear to present almost insuperable obstacles to the inexperienced grower.

Repotting is not something that can well be postponed, for, once the precise moment for repotting is past, it is best to hold the plant over for another year - the only exception to this being in extreme cases involving the life of the plant. This enforced holdover may result in retarded development and the appearance of a smaller new bulb. Next season's flowers may be fewer and poorer or there may be no flowering at all.

It is one of the paradoxes of orchid growing that the plants require repotting at regular intervals, yet they resent shock and suffer from the procedure if every circumstance is not just right.

The best time to repot varies by genus but in most cases it is soon after flowering when the live eye at the base of the most recent pseudobulb begins to swell and form a new growth. It should never be done unless the plant is in active growth. Repotting in flower sheath is inadvisable, since it usually results in loss of the flower. The ideal moment is just before the tiny new roots break through the tissue.

Friends of orchidists often remark that growers spend much time in the greenhouse, seemingly doing nothing but brooding over the plants. But there is purpose in this 'brooding.' Careful inspection of the base of bulbs will occasionally reveal a need for repotting that would be missed by cursory observation. If growth of the new bulb progresses too far or if the roots become too long, it is almost impossible to repot without knocking them off. New growths appear as though by magic but may remain undetected for a considerable time unless the plant is watched closely.

Aside from the known requirements of a particular orchid, to be learned by experience and research, there are certain indications of a need for repotting that will be obvious to any beginner. One such sign, although not always to be trusted because of the sprawling nature of some roots, is the appearance of many roots ranging out of the pot and over the potting material.

There is an urgent need for repotting when new bulbs are crowding or overhanging the edge of the pot or climbing awkwardly in the air. Repotting should have taken place long before such conditions appeared and the plant may be retarded by this neglect.

Equally obvious is the case of a plant that has exhausted its compost. The compost will appear entirely decomposed and will feel spongy and soggy. In spite of the risk involved in potting at the wrong time, it is best to remove plants at once from such unhealthy conditions, since otherwise rotting of the roots, loss of leaves, and death of the plant may result.

Repot with care and your reward will be beautiful orchids.
About the Author
How to Grow Breathtaking Orchids - Even If You've Never Raised One Before. Simply Orchid Plant Care Website Reveals All The Secrets.

Click here for FREE online Ebook

http://www.orchidplantcare.net/
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