Took my orchid out of the pot and now cant get it fully back in

Hello, I was recently gifted a phalenopsis orchid with two VERY tall stems each with many blooms on it. It is gorgeous and I would like to do as much as possible to keep it alive! I took the plant out of its plastic pot to inspect its root system and the planting media to see what shape it in. In doing this I lost some media and when I tried to put the plant back in the pot I cant get it as deep into the pot as it was. Now there is a quarter inch of space at the bottom that is partially filled with media but not entirely and there are some gaps in the root ball that are not as solidly filled as before. Im not sure if I should pull the plant out and try to fill all this in again as I was not very successful the first time and the plant is in bloom so I dont want to stress it again. Is it okay for there to be space where the roots are not filled in or some space in the bottom of the pot? The plant is pretty well supported but not as thoroughly as before. Also do I need to be concerned about the roots that are now more exposed? And lastly, while I was inspecting the roots I noticed deep in the rootball, directly below the plant base there are these yellowish short roots. Are these new growth that just are not dark green yet or are they rotting and if so what do I do?

Thank you! I love your website!

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Jun 11, 2014
Cable's Reply NEW
by: Cable Thompson

Thanks for the compliment! I'm glad you like my site.

I recommend that you either:
1) Repot into a slightly bigger pot that the roots can fit into. Repotting plants that were growing in moss into new moss is pretty non-traumatic, so if it's potted in moss, I recommend going with this option.
2) Get the plant as securely back into the current pot as you can without breaking any roots, and plan to repot after it finishes blooming or the next time you see new roots coming off the side of the stem. New roots are white with green tips, or all green when wet -- look at the base of the keiki pictured here for an example of new roots about the right size. It is OK for there to be some space in the bottom of the pot; Phalaenopsis are epiphytes that grow on the bark of trees in nature, so the roots actually expect access to plenty of air. If you go with this option, you might want to be extra thorough when watering to make sure the roots at the bottom don't stay too dry.

The short yellow roots you saw are not new growth; they are older roots, probably some of the plant's very first. If they're still firm they are still alive; if they've turned shriveled or mushy they're dead. Regardless, if they're very small there's no real cause for concern unless they've turned black (which indicates a bacterial rot).

It sounds like your plant is pretty healthy if most of the roots are firm enough that you can't get it back into the pot! So I expect it will do well with either option.

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