Culture Note for the month – Repotting
With the winter almost coming to an end (in Bangalore) we look forward to the growing season of orchids. The first signs would be the root growth, putting out either white with green tip of annual roots or the thick, stout roots of monopodials such as Vandaceous ones. Some care has to be taken for the new growths especially the young and emerging shoots of Dendrobiums are susceptible for wet conditions and may rot. Keep looking out for any over watering symptoms. This could also be the time for repotting especially those which have completed flowering. If any of the species or hybrids has not flowered, do the repotting after flowering is completed. But the bottom line is doing it only when they are in active growing stage.
Generally repotting is resorted when an orchid has out grown its pot. The other condition which mandates for repotting is use of organic materials as media. Over a period of time use of bark, tree fern chunks and even CHC will tend to disintegrate and collect at the bottom resulting in blocking the drainage. Generally orchids dislike being disturbed even for repotting. Visualise the condition in which orchids grow in nature, once they germinate on a tree or branch they die there without getting disturbed.
In the growth phase of orchids, we tend to ignore the importance of roots and its growth. They are the store house of water and enable absorb water and nutrition especially in case of monopodials. We generally get to see (in most of the cases) the shoot growth and mainly concentrate on this part of the plant. For growth of an orchid light, temperature, nutrition are generally considered as important parameters and enhancing the root growth through manipulation of these is the key aspect of successful orchid growing. Your plant is as good as its root system is the saying. In this regard, many of us are already using Phalaenopsis transparent pots and also the ‘Paph pots’ which enable the roots to go deeper in the media. The root of orchids does not like to be disturbed or damaged. As you are aware, orchids grow at a slow pace and when they are growing in a particular condition they take time to get adjusted to those conditions including the media in which it is growing. During its growth any disturbance to the root system is not tolerated by the plant and suffers a setback in its growth and sometimes so much so that the plant will be unable to adjust and eventually may die.
When you pot an orchid, it takes about 5-6 months for the plant to adjust to the new conditions including media in which it is growing. Though at times, we observe new roots developing much earlier, it is the ability of the plant to adapt totally to the conditions provided by the grower and put out more growth. When they have adjusted and start growing, during this time if you are thinking of repotting every year or much earlier because of several reasons, imagine how much you will have set back the plant’s growth and damage the root growth !!!!. Eventually the orchids will have tough time in adjusting to the new conditions. Thus while growing orchids have patience and follow their requirements which are specific in nature (unlike other flowering plants) and then only we can achieve success.
Happy Orchid growing