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  • Repotting Cymbidiums

    Today on the menu there is this cymbidium...
    Obvious signs that there is a problem with the medium is yellowed and browned leaf tips not just at the very top, were you'd expect sunburn.

    Also the medium looks all compacted and is blocked by sand and stays moist enough for clover to grow in. (this is an outside 'chid).

    Also it is just past flowering so an ideal time in mid spring.



    I let it outside in the sun for a few days (was not too hot this week), which helped to get it out of the pot easily.



    Adjusting the hosepipe sprayer to a low power beam I rinsed off the sand.
    Eventually you will see some "open" spots through which you can nudge the medium stuck in the center. The roots grow mostly on the outside where they can form capillary channels with the container and each other... This helps them retrieve and store water, but also makes them prone to rotting in the long term.



    The obvious side to start at is the side with the back bulbs, as they should have no active roots by the time they have no more leaves... I leave the bulb on until it has dried out completely and comes out with just a slight tug... at that point the rhizome between it and the rest of the plant is long dead. Do it too early and you will see the living rhizome you just tore through.



    Take care not to disturb fresh growing tips. Yes, that is indeed a peach pip medium. Have not seen a single pip degrade regardless of how old the pots look. They just seem to be problematic if not repotted at least every few years. My mom would take a big pot and just let them grow into it until... keeping enough around not to be bothered with the waiting for flowers.

    Pick the dead roots from the back bulbs and then proceed to any other dead or decaying roots... if its not firm and solid after a good watering like this, it is a goner...



    Give it a good wash down to clean the crud you could not get to in the first step. Try to remove all the blackened roots right to the stem. I left a few where I saw some new roots started growing in... but I stilled trimmed them... This plant did not so much have a problem of retaining too much water, it rather excluded too much so the rotting process for the most part seemed pretty natural and harmless, more a dry rot than a mouldy soggy mess. I think that they will not be a problem and will be a source of nutrition and moisture.... Will inspect them in about a month to see if I was right.



    Trim and tear of old leaves and sheaths... take care though not to break off any new baby growths under them... I found one on this plant.. I had the good fortune on tearing one off on the second plant I repotted which locked this check in for me.

    At this stage you may want to use something like physan or a willow twig tea soak and then it is ready for repotting





    After the trim it obviously had to go to a smaller pot, basically the roots just fitted inside and had a little room for growth, would have like a taller pot but, have to make do with what I have.

    Place old pseudobulbs against the rim of the pot as ther is no roots and should be no more growth in that direction. New growth has ample space towards the center of the pot. For small shop bought cymbs you need to go really tight with the potting... this one seems robust enough to come to its own equilibrium in the longer term.



    And you are done...



    Also, after repotting keep an eye out for excesive yellowing of the leaves, this indicates the plant is not getting enough moisture.... and will soon be followed by death if not reversed... I suspect new potting mix is more prone to drying out and may need a bit more often and more thourough waterings. Healthy leaves are apple green.

    Keep it in a shady place for a while until the new roots start forming.

    Finally place it with the old bulbs facing the most sun and shading new bulbs and roots.

    Read more articles like this at RVO's OrchidTalk Orchid Forum
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