Re-potting Large Plants

I need some advice about repotting. My oncidium has about 20 pseudobulbs and some are well over the edge of the pot. Should I let it go another year or repot now? John H
The best time to repot any orchid that has pseudobulbs such as a Cattleya, Dendrobium, or Oncidium is right after it blooms since the new roots have not yet emerged. In addition, pseudobulbs are their strongest when they have grown right up to the edge of the pot. Growths that are over the edge usually do not fare well since the emerging roots have no media to grow into and just dry up. Most orchids that have years of growth on the outside of the container are on the downslide and can take a long time to rejuvenate.
Roll up your sleeves and break this plant apart. Oncidiums only bloom on their newest growth so there is no need to keep 20 pseudobulbs together. Start by gently pulling the plant out of the pot. Brush off the old media such that there are only roots remaining. Inspect the plant to see if there are any big chunks that might wiggle easily off. If not, split the plant into 2 or more pieces by pulling apart. The idea is to get 4-6 pseudobulbs together that can be planted. Always choose the smallest pot that the roots will fit into as orchids need to be pot bound to be happy.
Prompt re-potting will result in a nice flowering within the year.

This past year, my Phalaenopsis ‘shed’ most of it’s leaves. Just now, I picked up the plant and accidentally broke off the only two remaining leaves. Did I kill the plant? Christina S
The ‘Moth Orchid’ is vulnerable to instant death when the leaf crown is damaged in any way since all the new leaves emerge from the center.
The most common cause is a rotting that occurs when water sits overnight between the leaves. The next morning, all the leaves have fallen on the floor.
Physical abuse, however, can be just as fatal and breaking off the last two leaves guarantees this unpleasant outcome.
Under normal circumstances, Phals do not routinely ‘shed’ their leaves. They may drop a leaf as a new one grows but there is never a mass exodus. This plant was on its way out before the big breakup.
Do not despair. Phalaenopsis are ‘in season’ right now and are readily available in all colors, shapes, and sizes. I see a replacement orchid in your future.

I have a really tall dendrobium and it is getting top heavy. Can I cut it down a little? Spiro T
‘Cut it down a little’……… like pruning a tree? or trimming the hedges?
No, unfortunately orchid pseudobulbs cannot be just cut down since they are the lifeblood of the plant. They store food and water and, in the case of Dendrobiums, can bloom again whether they have leaves or not. Cutting them back reduces the adult plant to a child which then requires years of growth to return to form.
It is true that certain varieties of Dendrobiums can get quite tall – 3 feet without flowers and 4 ½ feet with flowers. These types are grown for cut flowers by the acre on the Big Island of Hawaii and the locals string the petals together to make leis. A single specimen plant can produce hundreds of tiny blossoms.
Here on the mainland, not all homes can accommodate such grandeur so when selecting a Dendrobium, always inquire as to whether the plant is a potentially tall grower.
A ‘top heavy’ plant may just need a tall stake or two and perhaps a large ceramic container to hold it. Maybe your local orchid nursery will let you ‘trade’ the big plant for a smaller one. Just maybe. A little flirting might help…….    

Wednesday, February 1, 2006 - 18:15