How to pot and divide orchids

Repotting a cymbidium orchid

Best time to divide and re-pot orchids is when the they begin to crowd out of their pot and quality of the flower show drops.

Southern Hemisphere- October/November is an ideal time to divide.

Northern Hemisphere- April/May is an ideal time to divide.

This is not a difficult task:

1. Remove the orchid from the pot and inspect the root ball

2. If the roots are thick and matted you may wish to trim the bottom of the root ball

3. Living, healthy roots should be left alone. They are white in appearance with yellow/green almost translucent growing tips.

4. Remove the dead brown coloured roots. Cutting should be kept to a minimum- one long, clean, sharp cut is best.

5. Back bulbs (the dry looking bulbs at the back of the plant) are usually removed. Simply screw them out with a quick twist. If you wish you can replant these bulbs, and they may produce one more plant before they die.

6. Re-pot into a pot only slightly larger then the existing one. There should be only a 25mm gap between the edge of the rootball and the edge of the pot. Most growers recommend plastic pots over terracotta as plastic holds more moisture.

7. Fill the gap with a good quality orchid potting mix.

8. Water the plant well.



Dividing a cymbidium orchid

If dividing as well as repotting your orchid:

1. Examine the plant carefully, its usually quite obvious where to divide the root ball. A minimum of three bulbs per new plant.

2. Break the plant into the desired sections. Cutting a small amount of the root ball may make this process easier.

3. Remove back bulbs and dead or damaged roots.

4. Plant each division in a new pot with the area where the back bulbs were removed against the inside of the pot (this is because orchids grow in one direction)

5. Fill the pot with good quality orchid potting mix, bark and water well.



Orchid potting mix

A good orchid potting mix is essential to the plants well being. It requires excellent drainage and good air movement. The basics of a good potting mix are:

1. Free flowing with good air movement around the roots.

2. Free draining. Orchids won’t tolerate water sitting around the root ball

3. Fine enough to prevent the leaching of nutrients

4. Coarse potting mixes dont retain as much moisture as fine ones, so a delicate balance between the two is required.

5. The potting medium mix must also act to anchor and support for the plant and its roots.

6. Popular ingredients in orchid mix include: pine bark, peat, coarse sand and polystyrene.

7. Good quality potting mix are available at all good nurseries. Make sure you use them!



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