Repotting Cymbidium Orchids 
into Hydroponics

Cymbidium orchid growing outdoors after repotting into hydroponics.

Why Cymbidiums Love Hydroponics

1. Cymbidium orchids grow best outdoors. The LECA pebbles in our hydroponic system are perfect outdoor growing.

 2. LECA pebbles are a sterile ceramic that NEVER breaks down - less repotting. With bark and moss cymbidiums need repotting every year because the growing media breaks down outdoors. 

The best time for repotting cymbidium orchids into hydroponics is just before their growing season begins outdoors in spring - early summer.

Related:  Setting Up Cymbidiums Setup For Outdoor Growing (with Hydroponics)

Repotting Cymbidiums - Step by Step

New grow pot for a cymbidium orchid. Notice 1" space around existing roots for new growth.

1. Correct pot size is important. New grow pot should be only 2-3" larger than the existing pot. This creates a 1-2" space around the existing root ball for new growth.

If the grow pot is too big the roots won't dry out evenly - and these plants don't like wet feet! The shape of the grow pot is also important. Grow pots with a tall, narrow profile work best because they encourage better drainage. 

2. Remove the dead flower stems from plant. Using a sharp pruners, cut the flower stem off at the base. This is also a good time to remove any dead leaves.

3. Cymbidiums like to be crowded in the pot so removing the plant from its existing container can be a chore. Gently tap the pot with a hammer to loosen the roots. (Yes, we use a hammer for repotting plants!)

4. Grasp the plant and firmly pull upward. These plants have thick, sturdy leaves so they can withstand a strong tug. If the plant and container won't separate, cut the pot with a utility knife. (Always use clean tools when working with orchids.)

5. Notice the large, complex root system. Removing the existing growing media can take some time. Soaking the rootball for a couple of hours (or overnight) will make it more cooperative. 

Tip: I've learned that tearing the roots apart just to get that last bit of bark or moss isn't absolutely necessary. These plants have no problems adapting to hydroponics even if you leave some of the old planting materials behind. 

6. Pull roots apart wherever possible. Be aggressive. Dig in with your fingers. Keep digging and pulling. If you hear a snapping sound, a root broke so back off a little. Chop sticks make excellent tools for poking around between the roots.

7. Wash away all bark and moss between the roots. You're going to need a garden hose for this. Water from the tap just doesn't have enough pressure to get in between those thick roots. Sometimes cutting the rootball is the only way to get inside. 

8. Using a clean, sharp knife, or scissors, and remove all decaying roots. Healthy roots are white or pale yellow in color and firm. Brown, soft roots are decayed and should be removed. Some root loss is normal.  Be aggressive here - new hydroponic roots will grow back quickly.

9. Careful! A white tip at the end of a root is an active growth. Don't damage new growth tips.

10. Back to the sink for more washing. Notice the smaller root ball this time around.

11. Now is a good time to remove the sheaths around the psuedo bulbs too. Insects like to hide behind them (look for scale).

12. Choose a culture pot that allows for 1-2" of room all sides.

13. Cover bottom of culture pot with pebbles.

14. Postion plant in culture pot and fill with pebbles.

15. Tap down pebbles. Be aggressive, don't leave any air gaps around the root system.

16. Here's our new plant. As you can see, we're not using an outer pot. This plant is going outside for the summer so a shallow plastic saucer replaces the outer pot. The decorative outer pot will collect too much water from rain showers outside.

See Cymbidium Setup For Outdoor Growing for more on this.

Growing with Hydroponics

With Hydroponics, the LECA pebbles will never decay or breakdown so repotting to simply replace old potting media is unnecessary (big advantage!). 

When it's time to move to a larger pot, simply remove the plant from its existing culture pot and transfer the entire root ball to the larger pot. The (LECA) clay pebbles inside the root ball are as good as new and don't need to be replaced (like bark or moss)!

For more on Cymbidiums and hydroponics:

Cymbidium Success!

Cymbidium Setup for Outdoor Growing

Caring for Cymbidium Orchids

Tools You'll Need for Cymbidium Success

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