How to Repot an Orchid with Air Roots: A Step-by-Step Guide

Home » How to Repot an Orchid with Air Roots: A Step-by-Step Guide

Orchids are a beautiful addition to any room with their vibrant colors and unique shapes. However, these plants require careful attention and care, especially when it comes to repotting. Orchids with air roots pose a particular challenge to many gardeners. That said, with a little patience and a few tools, it is possible to grow thriving orchids even with air roots. Below is a step-by-step guide on how to repot an orchid with air roots, complete with troubleshooting tips to help you become an orchid pro.

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Understanding Air Roots in Orchids

Orchids possess aerial roots, which allow them to anchor to local surfaces and absorb moisture and nutrients from the air. These roots help to stabilize the plant, and they also create an attractive aesthetic. Air roots tend to grow out of the stem of the plant, and sometimes they develop from the pseudobulbs, which are tuberous structures that store water and nutrients.

Why do orchids have air roots?

The roots of orchids are highly adapted to gather nutrients and water from limited sources, such as the air or the surface of trees. Since orchids survive on very little nutrient input, they rely heavily on their aerial roots to absorb all necessary nutrients and moisture.

Getting Prepared for Repotting an Orchid with Air Roots

To repot your orchid successfully, you will need the following tools:

– A clean pot that is large enough to accommodate the plant, with proper drainage holes

– Fresh potting mix appropriate for orchids (coconut husk or bark)

– Scissors or pruning shears

– Disposable gloves (optional)

Choosing the Right Potting Mix

Understanding the right potting mix formula for your orchid is crucial for your plant’s health. It is imperative to choose the right potting soil to provide your plant with the correct balance of moisture, oxygen, and nutrients required for growth. The best potting soil for orchids is a combination of coconut husk chips or bark mixed with perlite or vermiculite.

Repotting Your Orchid with Air Roots: Step-by-Step Guide

Before starting the repotting process, you need to ensure you have the right tools and a clean, safe working area. Once you have completed these steps, you can move forward and proceed with repotting your orchid.

Removing the Orchid from the Old Pot

To remove your orchid from its old pot, begin by carefully tapping the sides of the container. This will help to loosen the plant and create space to remove it without compromising its structural integrity. Once the orchid is loose enough, gently tilt it to remove it from the pot.

Trimming the Damaged Roots

Now that the orchid is out of the pot, it is time to trim any damaged or rotting roots from the plant. If there are any dead roots present, they can spread to the rest of the orchid, causing more damage. Using clean, sharp pruning shears or scissors, clip off any rotten or damaged roots from the main stem up to the healthy part of the root.

Placing the Orchid in the New Pot

Take your new pot and fill it with enough potting mix to create a sufficient layer of soil at the bottom—the layer of soil needs to be around two inches from the top of the pot. Once the potting soil is settled, place the orchid in the middle of the pot, ensuring that the plant is placed in the center.

Backfilling with New Potting Mix

Add more potting soil around the orchid until it is positioned securely. Once positioned, pack the soil firmly around the roots, using your fingertips to ensure there are no air gaps between the roots and the soil. Add enough soil until the roots are covered and a layer of soil reaches just below the base of the plant.

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Troubleshooting Tips for Repotting Orchids with Air Roots

After repotting, it is normal for orchids to undergo a brief period of shock. They may display the following symptoms:

– Shrinking leaves

– Droopy appearance

– Loss of foliage

– Withering roots

These effects usually last about a week or two, and the plant will recover on its own.

How to Address Issues with Air Roots Post-Repotting

Post-repotting, it is crucial to ensure your plant’s overall health by properly maintaining the air roots. You can do this by:

– Regularly misting the aerial roots to keep them hydrated

– Wrapping the aerial roots with damp sphagnum moss to keep them moist

– Avoid overwatering the soil, which may cause root rot in the long-term

– Providing sufficient airflow to the roots for optimum health and growth


Now that you have learned the techniques for repotting an orchid with air roots, you can take care of these beautiful plants with confidence. Remember that orchids thrive in a suitable environment that mimics their natural habitat. Understanding the right potting mix formula, the necessary equipment and the treatment of aerial roots is essential for your plant’s overall health. With a little patience and care, your orchid will be healthy and beautiful for years to come.