Rupicolous Laelia Potting Demonstration

Here we have a Laelia sanguiloba that we will pot up. Although this photo does not show it, there are live root tips starting from the bottom of the newest pseudobulb (do not repot unless there are). Usually, we place newly imported plants in an empty clay pot until they begin growth, then we pot them. Severely dehydrated plants may be placed in a clay pot with a ball of damp sphagnum. Before potting, I will cut off most of the dead roots. All of our rupicolous Laelias go into 3 to 5" pots.

We will use a 3" pot for this plant which will give it a couple years to establish before moving it to a bigger pot. The beauty of inorganic media is that your only timetable for repotting is the physical size of the plant in the container. The media never breaks down. Place a few pieces of landscape-size lava rock in the bottom of the pot. You may also use styrofoam peanuts. This keeps the interior of the pot aerated and prevents smaller media from falling through the drain holes.

Next, we will add a layer of the coarse, medium sized lava rock. This also helps keep the interior from getting stale and provides many surfaces for the roots to cling to. The pitted surface of the lava rock seems to provide just the right amount of moisture.

As with any sympodial orchid, place the oldest pseudobulb against the rim....so that the newest lead is somewhere in the middle of the pot. Fill in the remainder of the pot with Aliflor or small gravel. Their more uniform shape and size makes it easier to get the Laelia situated properly and firmly.

A correctly placed rhizome clip should be all you need to secure the plant although the tall laelias. (angereri, rupestris, cinnabarina) might need a stake.

Don't be in  a hurry to repot these orchids. You should plan on potting for at least two years and preferably three. It's OK if they grow on the rim of the pot. The nearly non- existent rhizome keeps the growth compact. When it does come time to repot, try to disturb the plants as little as possible. If neccessary, break the pot. Remove only media that is attached to any dead roots you remove. These orchids can be difficult to get established so we don't want to set back happy orchids. This is INORGANIC MEDIA with lots of little pits and depressions which make great places for fertilizer salts to build up. This can lead to root loss. Be Sure To Flush Pots With Plenty Of Clean Water Once A Month During The Growing Season.