by Ellen
(Staten Island, NY, USA)

Rec'd a Moth Orchid as a gift. Was encased in a see-thru plastic pot which was in a clay pot. I removed the plastic and now is in the small clay pot. The 'root' part is firm and hard to loosen and shaped like the see-thru plastic it came in. Am I to loosen the roots and potting mix?

Thank you for your help.

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May 21, 2014
Cable's Reply NEW
by: Cable Thompson

This is a very good question!

Orchid roots have a thick outer coating called velamen, which is white and firm in healthy roots. It helps the roots absorb water and attach to the bark of trees. (It's actually made of dead cells; the growing tips of roots are green, they die and turn white a few days later.) The velamen also contributes to the thickness of the roots, which makes them fairly stiff so they can do things like grow in a straight line toward a nearby branch, or shape themselves securely around the lumps and cracks on a tree's bark.

If you crack the roots, that can kill the portion of the root beyond the break. If you're lucky the root will branch and grow again, but they often don't. Cracks also provide a place for plant pathogens to enter, so they can lead to root rot.

So when repotting orchids, be careful not to break the roots. This means you usually can't loosen up the root ball much if at all. Just get as much of the old potting mix out as you can without damaging the roots. (This depends a bit on how patient you are!) Usually the roots will be a bit more pliable if you water thoroughly just before repotting.

A lot of people also like to reduce watering for a couple weeks after repotting, so the plant can heal any cracked roots before they get infected.

It's very common to be nervous the first few times you repot an orchid; I remember it took me a couple hours the first time! It gets much, much easier and faster with a little practice and confidence. It helps to remember that even if you crack a couple of roots, the plant will be much happier than if you leave it in an old decaying potting mix until all the roots get killed.

By the way: the pot you've moved your Phalaenopsis to has a hole in the bottom, right? I've seen way too many plants sold in pots that don't drain, and it's often a plastic-pot-in-a-fancy-pot arrangement. If the pot has a hole in the bottom, it should be fine.

Happy growing!

Oct 06, 2015
Good post NEW
by: Baby Rutherford

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Oct 08, 2015
orchid roots NEW
by: Jessika

Thanks for interesting and useful information about roots. Orchid is mysterious flower for me) And that is not so easy to find accurate information about it. I will use this for my assignment with blue zoo essay writers. Thanks

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