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1. Should you soak bark before repotting? Ideally you should soak the bark overnight.This starts the wetting process so the bark holds more water. Also tiny components will settle out to the bottom of the bucket. I have too many plants and do not worry about presoaking. I just water the recently repotted plants more often until I feel the bark is holding an adequate amount of water.
2. Best time to repot is when the orchid is in active growth. Ideally when you see new roots just emerging.
3.How often to repot? Depends on the genera. Some orchids such as Miltoniopisis should be repotted every year. Mitoniopsis roots do not like soggy or mushy media. Cattleya frequently require repotting only every third year. A larger sized bark is used which does not breakdown as rapidly. Also after 3 years usually the Cattleya sympodial growths have extended beyond the edge of the pot. As a general rule most other genera should be repotted every 18 to 24 months.
4. Do not overpot!! In general orchids prefer small pots. Overpotting will result in media staying wet for too long a period of time and may never dry out between waterings. When in doubt about which size pot to use, pick the smaller one.
5. Another good rule to follow is " the smaller the diameter of the roots the finer the grade of fir bark that should be utilized.
6. Seedlings require a finer grade of bark than a mature plant of the same genera.
7. When repotting Cattleya and other orchids with sympodial growth you can make back divisions. Make sure each division has at least 3 growths.
8. Some miniature genera, such as Masdevallia, are grown in small pots and never like to dry out completely. Consider using New Zealand sphagnum moss and repot ever 2 years.
9. If you have a mixed collection with plants of various sizes,it is advisable to have different grades of fir bark available. Premixed media with additional components such a charcoal and perlite are available from commercial companies such as PARKSIDE AND KELLY'S CORNER. You can find them on the web.
10. It is best to place Styrofoam peanuts or clay pot shards at the bottom of pots to aid in drainage and increase aeration of the roots.