The Q&A Archives: Transplanting Phalaenopsis Orchids

Question: I have a phalaenopsis orchid which was recently purchased in a ceramic pot. Every time I water it, the water goes right through. I figured it needs to be transplanted but am not sure what's involved. Right now it doesn't appear to be in potting soil, so what type of medium do I need to plant it in and are there any precautions I should take? I've had it for about a month and a half and all I've done is water it. The blooms are still looking fresh. That's all the know-how I have about it!

Answer: Orchids are usually grown in a special compost potting medium. They bloom best when root-bound, so don't be in a hurry to repot it. The general guidelines for caring for orchids include giving daytime temperatures of about 70F degrees in the summer, or 60F degrees in the winter. It's important that the nighttime temperature drops 10 degrees lower at night. Orchids need good light, but not direct sunlight, and require 10-15 hours of light a day. You will have to supplement the light in the winter with artificial light. Keep the compost moist and use soft, tepid water. Orchids need humdity all around them. You can put your ceramic pot on a tray filled with gravel so the excess water will drain into the tray and provide moisture to the immediate environment. You can also mist the leaves occasionally. When roots begin growing out of the pot, usually on the top of the soil, you can repot the plant. Use the next-sized pot, fill with new compost or orchid planting medium and transplant into its new home. Once the blooms fade on your plant, cut the flowering stem all the way down to the crown of the plant. New stems and flowers will sprout from new growth. Relax and enjoy your new orchid!

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