How to Repot Orchids


The Spruce / Kara Riley 

Project Overview
  • Working Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Total Time: 10 - 15 mins
  • Skill Level: Beginner

Repotting your orchids is one of the most important steps you can take for growing and blooming healthy plants. Ideally, you should repot before there's a problem—but don't do it too early! Repotting should be done in spring, just before the plants' growing season begins.

And don't repot a blooming plant if you can help it! Done correctly, repotting shouldn't stress your plants, but set them up for a successful growing season and even better blooms.

As you're repotting, just remember: cleanliness is key, orchids are tougher than you think, and remember to match your media to your moisture.

Deciding When to Repot an Orchid

This is a key question. You need to repot if any of these three conditions are present:

  • The plant has clearly overgrown the pot, with exposed roots hanging over the edges of the pot.
  • The plant has grown too top-heavy for the available pot and it keeps falling over.
  • The potting media has disintegrated into mush, which can harbor deadly bacteria and fungus.

What You'll Need

Equipment / Tools

  • Sterilized snippers


  • Orchid potting media
  • Orchid pot
  • Styrofoam peanuts or broken pot shards


Materials and tools repot an orchid

The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León

  1. Pick Your Pot

    There are many ways to grow an orchid. You can mount them on slabs of wood or tree fern, or grow them in plastic or clay pots, hanging baskets, or simply hang from a wire in the air. Unless you have a greenhouse or conservatory, it's easiest to grow them in pots.

    Orchid pots have slitted sides to allow for good drainage. There are plastic net pots available, and can be used for very small orchids. However, in general, heavy clay pots are ideal because they are heavy enough to stay upright and retain just a tiny bit of moisture.

    Wooden hanging baskets next to clay pot to repot orchids

    The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León

  2. Prepare the Pot

    Drainage is essential. If you don't want to fill up the pot with expensive orchid potting media, you can add broken clay pots or even styrofoam packing peanuts to the bottom of the new pot.

    Broken clay pieces placed inside hanging basket filled with straw

    The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León

  3. Pick Your Potting Mix

    Potting media is a controversial subject among orchid growers, and many dedicated growers insist on mixing up their own with ingredients like coconut husk, clay pellets, bark, tree fern, perlite, styrofoam, vermiculite, sphagnum moss and more. Whatever mix you use, these should be your guiding principles:

    Organic mixes decay faster. If you use pine fir bark (commonly available in most commercial mixes), it will decay within a year or so of adequate watering.

    Your mix must match your watering. If you water daily, choose a free draining mix that won't hold water.

    Potting mix poured into hanging basket with straw

    The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León

  4. Gently Take the Plant From Its Old Pot

    Remove your plant from its old pot as kindly as possible. Roots will often have adhered to the pot sides, and you might break a root or two. It probably won't kill the plant, but try not to. Once you've got the plant free, inspect the roots carefully. Cut away and dead and blackened roots with sterile snippers and gently, with your finger, remove any rotted potting media.

    Potted orchid taken out of old clay pot

    The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León

  5. Divide the Plant if Necessary

    Sympodial orchids, or those that grow from advancing pseudobulbs, can be divided at repotting. Keep at least three pseudobulbs on either side of your cut, and make sure there are healthy roots in both divisions. Cut the stem with sterilized snippers and plant each half individually. Some orchids with very small roots, such as oncidiums, can be teased apart into two individual clumps. Division of phalaenopsis is rarely possible unless the mother plant has produced plantlets on the stem of a flower (called a keikis).

    Removed orchid held up and separated by roots

    The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León

  6. Position the Plant

    Orchids aren't like terrestrial plants: they aren't packed in dirt. To position your orchid, balance it on potting media gently so the top of the plant is level or slightly above the rim of the new pot. Gently fill in around the orchid with more potting media. You can rely on orchid clips to hold a newly potted in place until the roots grow enough to anchor it in place. If you don't have an orchid clip, that's OK, but be aware that the plant is not stable in its new home until new roots have grown.

    Orchid plant positioned inside hanging basket with potting mix

    The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León

  7. Water Thoroughly

    Your newly potted orchid will need some TLC for a while, until new roots begin to emerge and the plant goes into active growth. Some orchids will fail to bloom the year after they are repotted. This is OK. Orchid growing forces patience, and oftentimes, the plant will be more vigorous than ever once it has become established in its new pot.

    Repotted orchid in hanging basket being watered

    The Spruce / Nicole & Valerie de León