Repotting Phalaenopsis "Little Lady"

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    Profile photo of Diana

    So I have finally found some decent potting media and decided it was tine to repot my tiny Phalaenopsis “Little Lady”. At first the plant and its roots looked fine, but it was potted in a very small pot and it seemed to be constricting the root system and the potting media was only sphagnum moss, which did not seem great.
    This is what the plant looked like when I bought it, about a month ago:
    Phalaenopsis Little Lady

    Now, it has lost all its flowers and the leaves have gotten less firm, also the roots did not seem to look too great.

    Before repotting

    When I have removed it from the pot, I realised the moss was still quite wet in the middle, even if a few days have passed since the last watering. The roots seemed quite suffocated.


    I then proceeded to remove all the moss from the roots and rinse it a bit so I can see which were the viable roots and which needed to be removed.

    Roots before cutting

    With a sterilized scissors I cut away the dead rootsand sterilized the remaining roots with hydrogen peroxide.

    Removed roots

    Was left with a few roots, I really hope they will be enough for now. Also I have seen a tiny white-ish nub between some roots – maybe it will be a new root?

    Removed roots 2

    After this, I got a larger pot than the original one (you can see it on the left – it was quite tiny), provided ventilation holes all around and beneath the pot, filled it with a mix of bark and a bit of coconut chips and tried to stabilize the plant – I kept the original stake and did not cut the flower spike so that I could make the plant more stable, since it did not have that many roots. (the pot is actually more transparent than it shows, it just got foggy because it was quite warm and humid in my bathroom at the time of the potting)


    Here you can also see my Cala Lilly and my large Phalaenopsis and Colmanara Masai Red in the back.
    If this repotting will be successful, I will have more courage to repot the Colmanara, because I have the suspicion it is not doing great inside the pot and it might have quite a few dead roots that need cleaning.

    More plants

    I hope I did more good than harm to this tiny orchid! I am very curious to see if it will do better from now on :)

    Profile photo of Amber P
    Amber P

    I am the owner of 30+ Phaleanopsis orchids, I absolutely love them. I have changed out the media on each of them for the same reason…..I think the sphagnum moss does more bad than good to the roots. All but two of my orchids are rescued plants that I have purchased on the clearance rack at various retailers. I just purchased 4 miniature plants last night and I am trying my hand at semi water culture… I figured the roots have been kept moist for so long, this may be a good re-potting method. Keep is posted, hopefully your orchid takes off for you!

    Profile photo of Alison

    I am coming to really hate moss as a medium. Two of the orchids I rescued had this tightly packed plug of moss in the middle that was loaded with rotten roots and took well over an hour on the case of my large oncidium wild willie to clean out. Both orchids sulked for awhile because the process was very traumatic. I did what Dani suggested anf once a day in thr morning I lightly misted the surface medium to keep up the humidity around the plant. My phal. Bounced back quite quickly and now has some really impressive roots and I can tell through the pot that the ones I saved have been bracing out. The oncidium took some more time. It lost a couple leaves and sat static for a little while but now he’s no longer showing signs of progressive dehydration and he decided to continue to develop the buds on his flower spike I was so hoping to save. Doing some massive surgery and repot can be scarey especially to a beginner (like me) because it can take a while to see signed of improvement but it’s definately worth it in the long run.

    Profile photo of Diana

    Update: after a week, it seems ok – I am glad I did not notice any negative changes, the leaves could be a little harder, but I think all in all it is fine. The flower spike that I kept mainly for stability does not seem to be drying either, so I assume the few roots it was left with are doing the best they can to keep the plant hydrated, I’m also watering it before the medium seems dry. Hopefully it will start doing better, right now I am just happy it does not look like it is getting worse :)
    Today I mustered up the courage to repot my Colmanara too, I will make a separate post about it.

    A week later

    Profile photo of Diana

    Another update!

    The plant seems to be doing super fine! 😀 It has started growing a new leaf, it has 3 new roots growing at its base and the roots in the pot have developed and branched out because I can see some of them have grown close to the pots’ wall. The existing leaves have become nice and firm. So it seems to be very happy in the new media, I will include photos below :)
    Also, I will include a photo of my crazy large Phal – it is now growing its 3rd leaf since it is in my care (received it last december), and the leaves are HUGE, much larger than the ones it had before. I am only wondering when will it decide to grow a flower spike haha! It has a small nub that looks like a flower spike when it first starts growing, it is deffinitely not a root, but it produced it a long time ago, about 4 months, and there have not been any changes at all, it is the size of a pea. I’m sure it is doing fine and it will have plenty of energy when it finishes growing its new leaf, but I find it amusing that it is developing into a very large plant and I must admit, I am a little impatient for getting flowers because they were beautiful!

    The small Phal first – here you can see the new leaf and one of the new roots on the left, also there is one growing on the front but it’s not visible because it is in the leaf’s fold at the base, it also has one growing on the opposite side, in the back, same situation. There is also one of the new root sections on the left next to the pots’ wall, developed from an existing root.
    little lady new roots1
    Other root activity inside the pot
    little lady new roots2

    And my giant Phal, next to this little one :)) If you scroll up in these posts, you can see photos of it, it just keeps on growing and growing! (Bonus: my Poinsettia is photobombing!)
    giant phal and little phal

    Profile photo of Alison

    They are definitely looking super happy and healthy. Look at all that root growth! As happy as they are looking I’m sure you will start to see some flower spikes developing soon once the weather cools in your area and it’s done growing the leaves it’s currently working on. Temperatures have started dropping in my area. My phal that has been busy throwing out new leaves since I purchased it (2 new leaves plus a keiki) has stopped showing signs of putting out new leaves. When I look inside the crown I don’t see the start of a new baby leaf. I’m hoping that means I’ll start to see some growth from the little pointy nub between the leaves that is the start of a new spike soon.

    I recently went ahead and I repotted my zygopetalum and removed all the dead leaves and plat tissue from the new growth. She isn’t doing much yet but she had a bad shock and might still be adjusting. I don’t see any rot or dying tissue that’s continuing to spread but I’ll feel lots better once I start seeing some kind of growth from her!

    Profile photo of Diana

    Well I hope it will go fine with the zygopetalum :) That was how I felt about my oncidium, but after a few weeks of looking grim after the repotting, now it is finally producing a lot of new roots :) I think my plants are very happy about the cool weather here!

    Profile photo of Alison

    I got a bad break with my zygo. While it was in transit we had a nasty heat wave hit the area. Sinze zygo’s are cooler growing orchids the hear didn’t agree with her at all and her new growth started rotting. I thought it was just the spikes that were going bad but I cut them off and sealed the wound with cinnamon thinking that would do it bit the rot kept spreading. I finally had to go fairly drastic with the knife and repotted the poor thing after soaking it in peroxide. I still have some tissue blackening but it’s dry and not squishy rot. This just looks like it was tissue that I damaged during surgery and is drying up and dieing. This in don’t mind so much. I am keeping the surface medium a little dryer around the affected area of the plant to discourage further rot. I allow it to be slightly damp but not get super saturated. So far the main part of the new growth is still green and firm. I would feel a lot better if I could see some.kind of development. Considering what the poor thing has been through I shouldn’t be surprised.

    I love my oncudium. The spike fully opened a couple weeks ago and all the flower’s are now releasing their fragrance. I wish they were more compact growing. Maybe some day when I have more space for growing I can add more to my collection. I really want more :(. I don’t have a problem or anything. Other than lack of growing space. That is a problem lol!

    Profile photo of david bromley
    david bromley

    Hi Di After reading your story I Thought I would have a go at re potting two of my very sad
    looking orchids witch Iv’e had for a few years although they have flowered quite well leaves and flowers getting smaller from your tips we will see what happens I’ve changed the medium drilled holes in plastic pots being careful not to split them (again) although I have no hydrogen peroxide just washed the roots in tap water WE will Know see what happens

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