Sunday, November 6, 2011

Phaleanopsis Re-pot

I have a group of four Big Box orchids that I am re-potting. They all had live flower stems and three of them were in the process of re-blooming.

I am more interested in the long term health of the plants so the first thing to go was the stems. I would like to see the flowers but will wait until the next bloom. Blooming uses up strength that these plants can't afford, especially the two with the desiccated leaves.

The first thing I saw on all of the plants was dead roots below the surface. Even the first plant that looks healthy and has actively growing roots had them all on the surface, none below. A well-grown Phal will have roots all through the pot that forms a sort of cage as the roots grow down along the surface of the pot.

Another thing that was common to all four was that there was a ball of old sphagnum in the center. When they were last re-potted, someone simply wrapped the plant in sphagnum and shoved it into a bigger pot. This is not a good idea for plants in sphagnum moss because sphagnum breaks down over the course of a couple of years. This is particularly true of plants such as Phals that like to be evenly moist.

After all the sphagnum was washed away I trimmed the dead roots. I pulled off the dead velamen leaving the root thread. This will help hold the plant steady in the pot while new roots grow.

Only one of the four has enough root mass. That will go back in the same pot with fresh sphagnum and will be fine. The other three are rescues.

If it were summer, I would lay them on their sides on a humidity tray in the wet zone of the Napa greenhouse. I have used this method and it works well. But it is nearing winter and these are not special plants. I will pot them in small pots and hope for the best. They at least all have SOME root and orchids will grow given half a chance.


  1. Thank you for the tip on dead velamen peeling. I usually would just cut off bad roots and then plant would be wobbling without much support.
    Learning a lot from your blog!

  2. Yes, I've seen a lot of velamen (didn't know it had a name) in my 9-month foray into orchid-keeping.