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REPOTTING YOUR ORCHIDS Each orchid genus has different requirements for potting media. It is very important to have the correct medium for each type of orchid, depending on whether it is terrestrial or epiphytic—tree dwelling. Growing media commonly include fir bark, coconut husk, sphagnum moss, tree fern fibers and perlite, and frequently a mixture of two or three of these materials. All orchids potted in a typical bark medium need to be repotted every 18 to 24 months, depending on the needs of the individual plant. The primary purpose of repotting is to provide fresh media, not necessarily a larger pot, but pot size should be selected according to the size of the root mass. Orchids like to be a little tight in their pots. Orchids transferred to overly large pots tend to concentrate their energy on root growth and may not show new growth or foliage for several months. Orchids may be potted in plastic, clay or decorator pots, and the type of pot selected may influence watering frequency; plants in clay pots will need more frequent watering, as they will dry out a little faster. Always select pots with drainage holes; orchid roots in contact with standing water will rot and die, killing the plant. Media in the center of larger pots may remain wet for long periods and become an unhealthy environment for roots. This can be avoided by placing pieces of broken terra cotta in the bottom of the pot. A smaller pot inverted into a larger one can also help with drainage and aeration, with the roots of the plant draped over and around the smaller pot. Some orchids, such as Phalaenopsis, have roots capable of photosynthesis. For these plants, clear pots have become popular, as they allow light to get to the roots. THINGS TO CONSIDER: Orchids should not be repotted without a compelling reason. If, for example, aeration of the potting materials is poor because of decomposition, it must be replaced. Care must be taken to ensure that new growths and shoots are not overlapping the rim of the pot—large, neglected plants that have been potted for a long time are notoriously difficult to handle, and it is easy to break off new shoots and roots. But, when in doubt, put it off for another year!
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