Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

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How do I repot an orchid plant?

Orchids seldom need repotting more often than once ever two or three years. You can tell a plant needs to be repotted when the plant, not just roots, spills over the edge of the pot. Another indication may be that the growing medium in the pot has broken down. When a plant needs repotting wait until after it has flowered and just before new growth begins.

Select the proper pot and growing medium. It is your personal choice if you prefer clay or plastic pots. Both work well. Clay pots will dry out more quickly and give more ballast to a top heavy plant but plastic pots are lighter and need less frequent watering. Soak the new medium for several hours or overnight to moisten thoroughly. Lift the plant from its pot and loosen the roots that cling to the inside. Avoid breaking the roots if possible. Remove as much of the old growing medium as possible and prune out any dead roots and old, shriveled pseudobulbs. It is advisable to dip your pruning shears into a 10 percent solution of bleach between cuts to prevent the spread of disease. Divide the plant if necessary. Cover the bottom of the new pot with potting medium and set the plant in the pot. Work the medium in and around the roots to fill voids being careful not to damage the roots. Hold the plant so it is at the proper level in the pot. Plants which develop a rhizome should have the rhizome just at or below the surface of the medium. Stake the plant or use clips to secure the plant in the pot. A loose plant is slow to put out new roots and reestablish itself.

After repotting wait a week or so before you resume watering to allow the cut surfaces of the roots and stems a chance to heal.