I bought a young Phalaenopsis bellina six months ago. It came growing in a shallow plastic basket packed with coconut chips and sphagnum moss. Hung under a bench, it grew reasonably well for a while.

But with unusually high rainfall every day (climate change?), this media proved to be just too wet. With no protection from the rain (I grow my orchids naturally outdoors) those coconut chips will decay in no time and spell trouble for this little orchid. Although they love the moisture, phalaenopsis orchids prefer damp media, not one that is perpetually soaking wet. Periods of complete drying out is recommended too and will go a long way for the health of the plant.

So, these coconut chips and sphagnum slush had to go. Here is what I did:

Meet my baby bellina. It’s quite a basket-case.

Bellina in a basket. It came like this.

 

The media comprising coconut chips and sphagnum moss was soaking wet. This could promote fungal and bacterial diseases in the long run which is not a good thing to go through.

Wet, messy media

 

Algae has begun to take root. In my experience, they don’t really harm the orchid. They are just unsightly.

Algae and moss haven. Note the green-tipped root and a spike emerging from the stem. A good sign!

 

I’ve tipped the plant out of its pot. The media is pretty yucky, to say the least.

Out of the basket.

 

Slowly, the roots are separated from the mess.

Break free, my pretty, pretty!

 

Roots that have decayed were trimmed off.

Brown, decayed roots were cut away before repotting.

 

I got a clean, claypot ready. Here’s my hack: with a piece of wire from an old clothes-hanger, I looped it though one of the drainage holds to make a DIY hanger. When hung, the pot should tilt at a 45° angle.  

Pot & wire hanger. You might not agree, but a re-use old pots.

 

Next, the orchid is placed into the pot.  Do not trim good roots to fit.

Carefully shove all the roots in.

 

Position the plant such that the direction of the crown is away from the hook, so that when hung, the growth-lead points downward. This is to prevent water from collecting in the crown as this could lead to crown rot. Does that answer your ‘why tilt at a 45° angle’ question?

Crown of the plant has to face downwards, with the wire behind and above.

 

I fill the pot with broken bricks and charcoal, the standard orchid media in this part of the world.  The looseness of media will also allow adequate breathability for the roots. This plant is hung back in its place.

Broken bricks & charcoal go into the pot.

 

Two months later, and this baby bellina is doing great!

I didn’t mention this earlier, but I secured the plant with a piece of string, tied to the wire. Otherwise I could find the baby bellina on the ground one day, like those horror cases of kids falling off the gaps balconies.

 

Roots are growing the and spike has progressed. I will post an update when it blooms.

New roots! And yes, I’ve left a few pieces of coconut chips behind. Just a bit on top of the charcoal.

 

So there you have it. My guide on repotting a Phalaenopsis bellina. Incidentally, this is generally how I grow all my phalaenopsis orchids. This method suits my environment here in the tropics, where temperatures and humidity levels are constantly high. Coconut chips and sphagnum moss may work for you, just adjust accordingly to how frequently your plant gets watered by adding inert media like charcoal or broken chunks of clay.