Repotting Orchids, Part 1: Phalaenopsis

Julie McCaffrey —  December 23, 2013 — 8 Comments

A Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, is called the “gateway orchid” for beginning collectors: it requires very little care, and yields great rewards with blooms that last up to three months! Early success with a moth orchid leads growers to try other species and, finally, to orchid addiction. But how do you ensure early success?

PHOTO: Phalaenopsis 'Timothy Christopher' moth orchid in bloom.

Phalaenopsis ‘Timothy Christopher’

As a new orchid grower, I was not aware you had to repot your orchids shortly after purchasing them because they are often packed in sphagnum moss, which provides too much moisture for the plant. I was also not aware that you should repot your orchids every one to two years to maintain healthy plants. 

Anne Nies, a master’s degree candidate in the Garden and Northwestern University’s Plant Biology & Conservation program, is an expert in all things orchids, both native and tropical. She is also a member of the Illinois Orchid Society, which holds its spring and fall orchid shows at the Garden. She took some time this past fall to show me (and you) how to repot our orchids to maintain a healthy growing environment.

Our first video details step-by-step instructions for repotting a Phalaeanopsis orchid. Stay tuned for part two next week, when Anne reviews the different approach used in repotting a Paphiopedilum orchid, which has different watering and culture needs. 

Mark your calendars for the Garden’s newest exhibition, the Orchid Show (purchase tickets here), opening February 15, 2014. Orchid lovers of all levels are sure to learn a lot more about orchids at the show. Can’t wait! 

©2013 Chicago Botanic Garden and

Julie McCaffrey


Julie McCaffrey is media relations manager at the Chicago Botanic Garden and is responsible for promoting the Garden's programs and events through traditional and social media. Julie holds a B.A. in English from Northern Illinois University and an M.S. in Communications from Northwestern University.

8 responses to Repotting Orchids, Part 1: Phalaenopsis

  1. I am having trouble finding the link to the video. Thanks.

  2. Cathi, sorry for the glitch! We just updated the video link in the post. If you still can’t see it, you can find it on youtube at

  3. What is in the bucket of water that the orchid sat in for 10 minutes before repottinng?
    Didn’t catch the word.

  4. Years ago we used to live on a street named Orchid Drive. Since that time, orchids have become my favorite flower but they are very delicate.

  5. What was the liquid you cleaned the roots with ?

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