There are times when new vandas don’t need repotting, and there are times when they do.

I can’t recall the last time I purchased a bareroot vanda orchid. Vandas here are often sold in pots. I think it’s just easier for the vendors to raise their collection and merchandise them on benches this way.

If a new vanda comes planted in a potting mix of broken bricks or charcoal—the standard method of growing in Malaysia—then I usually wouldn’t repot it. This chunky media is long-lasting and doesn’t decay, holds moisture, yet is fast draining enough to provide good ventilation around the roots.

But in the case of this newly acquired Papilionanda Paksorn Fragrance, repotting is almost a must. This orchid came in a potting mix of only coconut chips which is great if you water once or twice a week, but outdoors under the heat, humidity and rainy skies, this media will only retain too much moisture, turn to mush over time and cause waterlogging. And that’s not great for vanda roots.

So the coconut chips will have to go.

Here’s how I took to task of repotting this vanda:

The new and healthy Papilionanda (Vanda) Paksorn Fragrance has just finished flowering. Notice the spent flower spike. It’s time to repot!


A check on the potting mix revealed that its all coconut chips. Baby ferns were starting to share the space.


Here it is, out of it’s comfy pot. The plant was quite established, so bring it out, I laid the pot on on its side and gave it a CPR-like push with both my palms to squeeze the size of the pot (sorry, no picture shown). Once the roots have loosened their grip from the insides of the pot, the plant could be pulled off gently.


It’s actually less compact than it looks.


Using my fingers, I gently pried away the chips. There was quite a lot of it!


Look! It was still in its original basket. This was removed gently after cutting the wire that secured the plant to the bottom.


This was the best I could do to get rid of all the potting mix. It’s okay to leave behind some chips that were still stuck to the roots. Do NOT trim the healthy roots.


The vanda was placed back in its now empty pot. A few pieces of charcoal was placed at the base to balance the plant.


Here it is! All done and ready to be hung back in place.


As for all that coconut chips, it need not go to waste.


I’m using it to nurse sick or weak plants, like for this dendrobium. The rest of the coconut chips were placed in a plastic bag and stored.


Other uses of coconuts. Source: tvlandclassic


There you have it! My guide to repotting a vanda orchid.

Some of you may decide to just hook wires on the basket and suspend the plant bareroot. That’s perfectly okay too! Potting up vandas is just a personal preference, and a neat way to tame those adventurous vanda roots.