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  #1  
Old 09-29-2021, 10:59 PM
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Default It needs repotting - do it now, or wait?

Most of my orchid growing practices, what I consider the basics, were learned decades ago. I think it is reasonable to say that I got most of my general orchid growing practices from Rebecca Northern's 3rd edition of Home Orchid Growing (Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1970). It was the only resource I had for quite some time. One of my hard and fast rules concerns when not to repot.

I won't repot when an orchid is not in active root growth, and I'm very reluctant to repot when the orchid is not putting out a flush, or root growth is at least very active. A second rule I follow without exception is that I won't repot an orchid that may rest during the winter during or just before the rest. For many of my orchids that is right about now.

If an orchid's media is badly broken down I'd rather water lightly to dampen rather than wet the media keeping it on the dry side, but moistening it more often.

Are my rules about not repotting anachronistic or excessively rigid?

-Keith
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Last edited by K-Sci; 09-29-2021 at 11:02 PM..
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  #2  
Old 09-30-2021, 01:51 AM
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I have found, in my growing conditions, I need to remove all the old medium right away or the roots rot. If I leave them almost completely exposed and the orchid is wired or weighted so it doesn't move, the roots tend to keep growing and the orchid doesn't suffer any set back. I can always add more lava rock later after the orchid has gotten established.

What kills roots is that when they are being moved around or when old medium is removed, they might get little injuries that expose them to infection. By leaving the roots exposed, the air prevents infection and, for many orchids, the roots will heal.
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  #3  
Old 09-30-2021, 05:38 AM
YetAnotherOrchidNut YetAnotherOrchidNut is offline
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I repot phals anytime i dont like the look of the media in any way. My sympodial plants I try to repot just a little after I see it form pups, and ill take bigger risks about leaving them, partly as I dont fear repotting them and losing all their roots if necessary, so far when it has happened to me the plant grew back eventually - that is what the pseudopods are for. It was a big setback tho so its not to be taken lightly. Monopodial orchids in my experience are much harder to recover if their roots rot (ive saved less phals than I have lost, and every vanda I have owned that got root rot died relatively soon after) and they seem to be less bothered by repotting so I am much more aggressive with repotting them.

Last edited by YetAnotherOrchidNut; 09-30-2021 at 05:42 AM..
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  #4  
Old 09-30-2021, 06:02 AM
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I like to prove the rule wrong. I'm up to 100 cattleya's by now, every one has been repotted whenever.

Lots of them at a bad time. Did I set a few of them back? Yes but not because of the repotting they were set back for other reasons.

Did it ever kill any? Nope.

I know some people say some of the really tricky catts will die but I think that is a bit extreme and doubt that would happen unless you really jank on the roots.

I should point out a majority of my catts, like most of them are hybrids so with hybrids there is much much less concern.

The worst set back has been my guarianthe aurantiaca and although it didn't die it will take years to recover - but it was in that state when i got it, I'd say repotting will only add a year onto it's 4 year recovery plan so was it the repotting or the state it was in?

Maybe I should wait posting this as the general consensu has not changed in the last 50 years keith. What you learnt is what most growers on OB RELIGIOUSLY do.

It's just me that doesn't so each at their own risk.

The one thing I keep gettng told is to wait till new root growth even if the media is degrading. If the media is degrading then waiting could be very detrimental.

As long as no root is damaged during a repot then no consequences will be felt.

But of course that is practically impossible, roots will always break during a repot so damge will get done.

I don't think you will find the answer you are looking for except maybe with hybrids it doesn't matter anymore (imo) and with species it still does to some extent.

Please feel free to disagree with me, I don't want to change repotting, I try to do it as little as possible but when it needs to get done, I do not hesitate which like mentioned is vastly different to how it gets done.

I'd like to think once my catts are older, so far I am just starting with them, I will try to repot each one when they are meant to get repotted.

And that is the best way but... everyone has to start somewhere and when we buy an orchid there is no guarantee it can last the next year to wait for the perfect time. If waiting too long is more detrimental than doing it at the right time then that would also be detrimental to the orchid.

With one's own mix there should be no issue with too badly degrading media. I've never waited long enough for fungus to start growing on my media but orchids from the shop regularly have stuff degrading in the pot.

Last edited by Shadeflower; 09-30-2021 at 06:40 AM..
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  #5  
Old 09-30-2021, 07:41 AM
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I repot whenever I think it is necessary/when I have the time available.

For Cymbidium, Paphs, Phrags & Vandas, timing is immaterial. For Cattleyas it might have some bearing, but it is very rarely critical.

The only group where I try to observe the 'rules', is the bifoliate Cattleyas (especially amethystoglossa).

I have found that the Guarianthes (which were once sorta bifoliate Cattleyas) have no problems with off rule repotting.
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Old 09-30-2021, 09:31 AM
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Certainly, the best time is when there is new root growth, but sometimes you just have to do it or potentially lose the entire plant.

Little tricks like bottom heat, maximizing the humidity around the plant, and applications of KelpMax all help overcome the “so so” timing situations.
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Old 09-30-2021, 11:54 AM
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ShadeFlower, your comment makes no sense to me.

"Maybe I should wait posting this as the general consensus has not changed in the last 50 years keith. What you learnt is what most growers on OB RELIGIOUSLY do. It's just me that doesn't so each at their own risk."

I don't think that's the case of "most" growers on OB. What's the opposite of looking through rose-colored glasses?

To answer OP's original question
"Are my rules about not repotting anachronistic or excessively rigid?"


They're your rules and your plants, so follow them or change your rules. You only have to suit yourself. I sure wouldn't judge you or label you either way.

I repot when
  • something isn't growing as well as I think it should and want to take a look at the roots.
  • when something is outgrowing its container.
  • when there's a scale attack I've missed controlling early-on.
  • when there's a ridiculous amount of backbulbs.
  • to divide and share.

Since I grow in only non-organic media there's no point of media breaking down. I repot whenever I choose, for whatever reason, regardless of timing for the plant. I convert to a mount or off of a mount regardless of plant timing. The occasional setback? Yes, occasionally with mounts.

And as Ray says, if the repotting situation warrants one can always tweak the surrounding environment with a heat pad, more humidity, less light for awhile, depending on the plant's look after repotting.
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Old 09-30-2021, 12:46 PM
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I moved a good question from tmoney about mounting/potting a phal keiki to a new thread in repotting so this one doesn't get hijacked. Here's the thread if interested:

Potting or mounting phal keiki with aerial roots
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Last edited by WaterWitchin; 09-30-2021 at 12:52 PM..
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  #9  
Old 09-30-2021, 07:42 PM
Dusty Ol' Man Dusty Ol' Man is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WaterWitchin View Post
ShadeFlower, your comment makes no sense to me.

"Maybe I should wait posting this as the general consensus has not changed in the last 50 years keith. What you learnt is what most growers on OB RELIGIOUSLY do. It's just me that doesn't so each at their own risk."

I don't think that's the case of "most" growers on OB. What's the opposite of looking through rose-colored glasses?

To answer OP's original question
"Are my rules about not repotting anachronistic or excessively rigid?"


They're your rules and your plants, so follow them or change your rules. You only have to suit yourself. I sure wouldn't judge you or label you either way.

I repot when
  • something isn't growing as well as I think it should and want to take a look at the roots.
  • when something is outgrowing its container.
  • when there's a scale attack I've missed controlling early-on.
  • when there's a ridiculous amount of backbulbs.
  • to divide and share.

Since I grow in only non-organic media there's no point of media breaking down. I repot whenever I choose, for whatever reason, regardless of timing for the plant. I convert to a mount or off of a mount regardless of plant timing. The occasional setback? Yes, occasionally with mounts.

And as Ray says, if the repotting situation warrants one can always tweak the surrounding environment with a heat pad, more humidity, less light for awhile, depending on the plant's look after repotting.
Post of the day! Very well said, WW.
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  #10  
Old 09-30-2021, 08:28 PM
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well to be fair WW there are some that do believe it but I clearly was exaggerating then which I am pleasantly surprised by.

See when someone asks the question I am used to people advising them to wait for new roots before touching the pot and have been criticized for suggesting to do it if it was needed so yes I am still defensive about certain things

Last edited by Shadeflower; 09-30-2021 at 08:36 PM..
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