Growing orchids seems to have become a very common pastime, judging by the amount of interest that’s gaining popularity on the internet. Questions vary a lot in terms of whether they come from beginners starting out growing their first plants, ranging right through to seasoned gardeners looking for specifics about a particular type, for example the vanilla orchid.
One growing (excuse the pun) problem with the internet is that, inevitably, incorrect information has become widespread, and it risks people gaining inaccurate guidance about how best to deal with problems relating to their orchids. To overcome this problem, it’s wise to look at several sources of information wherever possible to verify accuracy from reliable and informed sources. One such area is one that we’re addressing on this page – what to do if and when you find roots growing out of your orchid’s pot. It’s something that seems odd to gardeners that have never experienced this phenomenon before, so it’s no surprise that people turn to the web and find sites like ours to research the cause and whether anything needs to be done. So, what should you do if you find yourself in this situation?
Firstly, it should be noted that it is normal for orchid roots to spread, even to ‘climb’ out of the pot they’re growing in. Therefore, unless the plant is living in a pot that’s too small for its needs, a perfectly reasonable course of action is to ignore it and do nothing. Of course, not everyone that grows the plants will witness this, just because its a normal thing to happen, doesn’t mean it happens every time. Additionally, there is no suggestion that the roots rising from the soil is an indication that the orchid has a problem – it may be that is the case under certain conditions, but is by no means likely to be a bad sign. Since there is no immediate cause for concern at the sight of an orchid root, there’s no need to suddenly start treating it or otherwise tending to them.
There are a number of differing reasons why the roots might appear to be growing out of control. Let’s assume for a moment that action does need to be taken, and consider what to do. The single reason that you are likely to experience is outgrowing the pot. Anything else isn’t worth giving too much thought to, as it would be something that’s not reasonably solvable, assuming you’re following the normal care advice, and you can find that across this website. For plants that are out of space, its simply a case of moving to a larger pot or basket. Naturally you’ll need more soil in the new vessel, and you can fill that in the same way as you would with a new plant. Regardless of whether you decide re-potting is appropriate, never succumb to the temptation to trim the roots to neaten things up. Plants need their roots to keep up the essential supply of nutrients that they pull from the soil, so by cutting them back you could be restricting that ability or even kill the plant.
A final reason why the roots are growing out could be that the orchid is trying to move! It might sound odd, but it could be that it’s moving towards natural light or something else that’s useful for it’s growth. Generally speaking, re-potting is the only action you should really be taking, and even then only if you’re sure its a space to spread issue.