My First experience of repotting orchids was anything but fun. In fact it was more like a trip through Alice's looking glass.
My trip to the repotting Wonderland began shortly after I bought some slightly overgrown Cattleya orchids at a garage sale. Well, perhaps "slightly" may not be the right word. Grossly overgrown would be a much better description of these Cattleyas.
At the time I was a very green novice - I had only been growing a few orchids for about a month. I had never repotted orchids, but I was very experienced in repotting regular house plants. I was told orchids were not your ordinary plants, but they couldn't be that different could they?
The first thing I did was look in my new orchid book for help. It had just the information I needed in the chapter titled "How To Re-pot Your Orchids" - it even had pictures. I read the chapter and it didn't seem to be a difficult project.
"Great," I thought, "this will be a piece of cake, no problem...." Oh boy, was I ever WRONG!
The next day I assembled the tools just as the book told me to do. Now I was ready to start.
The first step was to remove the plant from the pot.
"Sounds easy." I thought, but after two hours of tugging, banging, twisting, pulling, and a few cuss words, the orchid was still firmly seated within its pot like it had been glued to it with super glue. It had resisted all my attempts to separate it from its pot like a mother Wild Cat protecting its young!
In desperation I called on my hubby, Gary, for his help. He too pulled, tugged, twisted, and banged on the plant with no success. Completely fustrated, he finally said "BREAK the POT!!"
Good idea... But the pot was made out of that wonderful poly plastic - you know the kind, it DOESN'T BREAK!
The first thing we had to do was cut some of the roots way from the pot so we could get to it.
The roots clung to the pot inside and out. Hundreds of thick, tough roots. I used my scissors and started to cut the roots away. Finally we were able to see the pot.
As Gary stood by watching, I tried and tried to cut the pot away but the scissors nor the shears were working very well. Finally Gary headed for the garage. I turned around just in time to see him returning with his CHAIN SAW!
I was horrified to think he would even consider using that mechanical monster on my poor plant - but then, just for a second, I thought it may be the only way to remove it from the clutches of the pot. I came to my senses and started to cut faster and faster...
As Gary's saw roared into life, the pot finally broke loose from the plant, I made it just in time.
"Now what?" I asked myself.
Here sat the plant with no pot and its roots grown tightly together in a huge tangled ball.
I knew the roots would have to be loosened before I could place the orchid into a new pot.
So, for the next two hours, I untangled, and pulled, and cut until I finally had a very large mass of roots which hung down all the way from the tabletop to the floor.
As I was untangling the roots, my thoughts drifted to the Orson Wells horror story about the orchid that strangled it's keeper with it's ROOTS. "Gee! I hope that is not an omen." I thought.
As I held up the plant I looked at all the pots I had gathered, I mumbled to myself, "This monster isn't going to fit in a 12" pot let alone the 6" one that was its former home."
The only thing I could do was to divide it. Yes! That was the answer. That is what I would have done with a regular plant.
I got my scissors and began to cut. That didn't last long - I broke the darn scissors. In desperation, I decided to get the pruning shears as well as a large butcher knife. Soon I began attacking this very large plant with perhaps a bit too much glee. The shears would not cut some of the thick growth, so off to the garage I went and came back with my husbands hatchet.
(Yes, the chain saw did cross my mind). I was now on a quest, and like a fanatic, I was bound and determined that this plant was not going to get the best of me.
Two more hours of cutting, hacking, and pulling the plant apart, I finally ended up with five large Catt's each in its own 6" pot. After this battle between me and that orchid was finally done, I looked over at the shelf where the OTHER nine plants I had bought were sitting - they all seemed to be grinning at me! I knew there would be NINE more battles to fight just like this one...
I turned off the lights and slowly walked to the house. I will have to face this another day. EPILOGUE Yes, this story is true and it really happened just this way. It took me two weeks to get all nine plants re-potted, and I ended up with 50 individual plants.
Spring is coming, it will be time to re-pot again. Here is some advice I strongly hope you will follow. When you are out looking for bargains, beware! You could end up with more than you bargained for.... Check the roots!!!