I don’t know about you, but while I do continue to learn about the specifics of orchid species and genealogies there are still times that I find myself unable to resist a beautiful No ID orchid. That is exactly what this orchid is.
I picked it up at a local greenhouse at a discounted price and fell in love with its bright orange color and peppery fragrance.
He was potted in a typical square plastic 4″ pot. Nothing exciting. As he finished blooming, new roots were coming out of the latest growth at great speed but none of them were IN the pot. They were all growing outside of the pot.
After a little procrastination, I got around to re-potting him. I use Orchiata potting medium. It is my favorite for a number of reasons that I will go into in another post. Also, with just about anything I use, there will be links to it so you know exactly what it is.
While Orchiata does not specifically recommend that you soak the medium before using it, I still soak it for at least 6 hours before I re-pot. Mostly because I have found that my orchids recover from potting a little faster when the medium is moist.
So you will see in the pictures that my Orchiata is sitting draining in prep for the re-potting.
One of the other items I use in re-potting is Mega Thrive. I have only recently started using it so I can’t give you a long-term definitive account of my
experience, but what I CAN tell you is that I HAVE noticed an improvement in root growth and recovery after re-potting. I have also been using it on my other ornamental house plants and they have shown a significant increase in growth and blooming.
I will go into more about Mega Thrive in another post, but in this case, I use it to spray the roots before re-potting.
So here is my prep station… yes… on my kitchen counter.
Currently, it is the simplest set up for me to re-pot.
I think the only thing that doesn’t show here is the rhizome clip that I used to secure the plant in the pot.
I frequently use craft paper, parchment paper, something like a plastic bag, or something similar to work over for the ease of clean up. This time it happened that the only thing I had available was aluminum foil.
Here is the Orchiata draining after being soaked for 6 hours.
I am using the size that is 1/2 to 3/4 inch. Some people like to use larger chunks or add additional stuff like large pearlite, charcoal, and other things. For my situation and the way I care for my plants, keeping it simple with the Orchiata and a terracotta pot works best for me.
The medium drains well and becomes dry in about 5 days time so it is not staying wet for an excessive period of time, and the texture of the bark is not sharp so it does not damage the roots.
It is also known for being less prone to holding or absorbing salts or other buildups from fertilizing.
In this pic it looks very dark after being soaked, but you can see that it is pretty uniform in size and that it does not have super sharp edges.
Now I want to briefly re-visit the Mega Thrive thing…
You can see in the next photo that I have mine mixed up and in a sprayer.
I do that because it is easy to apply this way and it never goes bad so I just keep some mixed up and with my orchid supplies at all times.
A couple things to note… Mega Thrive is formulated specifically to permeate the thick exterior of orchid leaves and roots to deliver hormones and growth stimulants deep into the plant.
So far, from what I’ve seen, it does work really well… HOWEVER… that also means that it penetrates your skin. So PLEASE wear gloves if you decide to use it.
I recommend using gloves when handling your orchids or doing any fertilizing or using any chemicals anyway, but I know that because of the way that Mega Thrive works, it penetrates quickly.
The first time that I used it I got it all over my hands. Granted I was doing a lot of plants and had it on there for a while, but I did experience some inflammation for a couple of days after using it.
So please use gloves. Just simple latex or nitrile exam gloves seem to do the trick.
This sprayer works wonderfully as it has an adjustable spray nozzle and if you put a little more pressure in it, you get a nice fine mist.
I actually have 3 of them in different colors. One with just pure filtered water for general misting (blue for “pure water”), the green one for Mega Thrive (because green means grow), and a red one that I have a water/alcohol/dish soap solution for bugs (because red means DEAD).
They hold about a quart of liquid and work like a charm!!!
So now that we’ve covered the extra’s… here is what I found when I got started.
Now keep in mind… Cattleyas are not my area of expertise. Quite frankly they kind of scare me.
Partly because I’ve heard a lot of stories about how difficult or temperamental they can be. But also because I purchase one a while ago and when he was done blooming I went to re-pot him and found that he literally had almost ZERO roots.
Like… there were six little stubs that were less than an inch long and looked like they MIGHT be able to absorb nutrients for the plant. That particular plant is still in my “intensive care” area. He is alive and just recently shows signs of maybe coming back, but nothing truly significant yet.
So I’m apprehensive about Cattleyas. I’m hoping that this project will help me to gain confidence in caring for them.
Anyway… back to the orchid at hand… my little orange Cattleya…
I have heard that some Cattleyas will only put on new roots under new growth. I’m not sure if that is true or not, but when I took this guy out of his existing pot I was quite disappointed. As you can see in the pic, he has basically NOTHING in the way of a good root system.
When I first took a closer look I was hoping to find a few viable roots.
But the picture really does give you a good idea. The vast majority of the roots were dried and hollow and some of them were starting to rot.
So not wanting to risk any addition rot issues or places for bacterial growth, I went through and began to check each root for viability.
Anything I found was dead and dry or starting to rot was cut off.
After all of the dead was cut off I did a freshwater rinse followed by spraying it with hydrogen peroxide (just the kind you get at the grocery store), and then a freshwater rinse again.
As you can see in the next two photos, I did find a couple of new roots down inside of the old ones as well as the strong new roots that had been growing out of the old pot.
So at least I know he has SOMETHING to go on.
So while I was disappointed to see so many bad roots, I was very happy to find that there ARE a few roots that I know can carry the plant into the future and that the plant itself is showing the need to thrive.
The next question was pot size. I had planned on putting it in the 6″ terracotta pot, but with not a lot of roots was that gonna be the best idea?
I did decide to stick with the 6″ pot for one reason… the rhizome on this plant was too long to allow for any future growth in a 4″ plastic pot and I KNEW that with the terracotta pot I would also get the air circulation and drainage that I needed to achieve to help this plant thrive.
SO… terracotta was the final choice!!!
I proceeded to give the existing roots a final spray with the Mega Thrive to help them to grow and to adjust after the re-potting and proceeded to pot the little guy up. The roots that are on the plants got tucked nicely into the Orchiata and the rhizome is sitting right on top of the medium as it should be.
I did use a 4″ rhizome clip to hold it in place and stabilize it while it is establishing itself in this new pot.
Side note: If you’ve never used rhizome clips before… they are like God’s gift to “Orchid-ers” when it comes to repotting many kinds of orchids!
So here is the final re-pot. I’m happy to say that it has been about a week and he is doing well. I will post updates as I see new growth appear!
Please post your questions and comments below! I would love you hear your thoughts!!
To Your Ochid-ing Success!!!