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How to Repot an Orchid in Bark

Orchid root ball

Before we even begin this post let me just say that repotting orchids and orchids in general are not my strong suit.  My mother seems to have the knack for keeping an orchid alive and all tips have been learned by watching her methods.  This bark method works well for what I call the general orchid; ones you can pick up at home improvement and grocery stores (phalaenopsis for the picky of us). However, there are many types.  Research your specific variety or you may end up with a dead orchid on your hands and these suckers are not cheap!

Materials needed

  • Pots: Make these well draining!!!  There are special pots with lots of holes on the side.  I find a fast drying terracotta also works well. NO plastic.  I have a tutorial on faux finishing pots for a rustic look if you want a way to jazz up the pots.
  • Orchid bark: Available at any home improvement store
  • Orchid: Going to need something to repot

Items needed to repot an orchid in bark

Step 1: Removing the Orchid

Most orchids you buy are crammed into these tiny plastic pots and packed with moss.  This is just… no.  Orchid roots need to breathe and have excellent drainage.  While they like moist conditions, soggy roots are just asking to rot the whole plant from the inside.  Get that poor sucker out of that tiny cup and start removing the packed in moss. Tease out the roots.  Important!!!!  If you see any mushy brown roots cut them off immediately.


Orchid root ball
As you can see this one also had styrofoam peanuts for drainage. I am just not a real fan of using plastic and styrofoam in my plants… Just not my thing.

Step 2: Save Some Moss

Unless the moss is in a poor or rotted condition I save a tiny amount to mix in the bark.  I do mean tiny!  I would not go more than a 1/4 of the mix of bark and moss.  You are trying to remedy the situation of trapped soggy roots, not add to it with compacted wet moss.  The reason I add the moss is to maintain a little more moisture.  My house is very dry, so you could skip the moss entirely if you live in humid locations.

Step 3: Plunk Orchid in Pot

I am sorry this is not more complicated…  Basically throw some bark/moss in the pot, fan out the orchid roots, stick in pot, and pour more bark on top.  If a root sticks out, no worries!!!  Be aware that orchids in bark are not terribly rooted down.  Basically do not put them in a high child or cat traffic areas where they will get constantly pulled out of the pot.  Ask me how I know this…  Once I have them in the bark I set them in the sink and give all the roots and bark a thorough wet down.  Do NOT soak! Just let the water run through.  Then repeat this type of watering whenever the bark dries out.

Orchid repotted in bark
Looks like a happy orchid to me!



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Rustic Terracotta Pots

Orchid in rustic terracotta pot

As luck would have it I am in the gardening mood and four free orchids were available at work.  Two of them came in lovely, rustic, aged terracotta pots.  Two of them in plastic.  Last time a I checked plastic cups are not the most attractive or healthy means to display an orchid.  I loved the look of the rustic terracotta pots, but in reality even the two pretty pots were to small for the plants they were holding.  So what is a person to do?  I don’t have time to soak and cover four pots so they organically mineralize and grow moss.  I decided to take my hand at creating faux aged garden pots.

After some practice, playing around, and testing I came up with the following how-to:

How to Faux Finish Terracotta Pots for an Aged, Rustic Look

aged terracotta pot with orchid

Materials Needed

  • Terracotta pots
  • Cream acrylic paint
  • Plaster of Paris (Optional if you have matte paint)
  • Old toothbrush: I guess you could use a new one, but seems like a waste to me.
  • Sponge or paint brush
  • Plastic cups (2)
materials needed to faux finish pots for a rustic look
As you can see here I had some old semigloss white and some cream ‘mistake’ paint I found at the hardware store.


Step 1: Making Matte Paint

Here comes my world famous guestimate instructions.  First, take around 1 ounce of water and put it in a plastic cup or whatever you will be using to mix paint.  Then take a couple of spoonfuls of plaster.  Mix with the water till it makes something around the consistency of pancake batter.  Then pour in some paint.  I would guess and try to keep a 3 paint to 1 plaster ratio.  Now that I have told you that ratio it is time to ignore it, because you are attempting to make two types of paint.  One thick and one watery.  I started with the same base on both paints and then added more water to one and a little more plaster to the other.

Step 2: Painting

I looked at my first pots for reference and made a few changes.  First I took the old toothbrush and dipped it in the wetter paint.  I laid the pot on a suitable surface.  Meaning I laid out an old Christmas paper plate, and when that didn’t prove large enough to handle the paint splatter I put more cardboard underneath.  Of course this was after cleaning the table of paint splatters… Just run your thumb along the bristles 3-4 inches above to give it some splatter.

I looked at the original pot for reference.  The water marks happened in bands of white mostly focused on the bottom.  I took a sponge brush and lightly dipped it in the thick paint and started brushing around the pot.  I also dribbled some water in the wet paint and let it wick a bit to give it a more realistic look.  I find it is easier to start lighter and add more.  I also went back and added more paint on top of the previous areas so it would have a thick dimension like the source material.

techniques for aging pots with faux painting

Notes and the Final Look

  • The paint dries super quickly on the terracotta.  Which is great for layering and a PITA when you are trying to feather it out.
  • I have had no issues with water harming the finish.  That being said these are indoor orchids.  I water them in the sink and set them back in their various places.  I have not subjected the finish to the turmoil of actual weather.  Though, I assume a natural finish would slowly replace the paint.  In fact… I may need to give that idea a go.

After I replanted the orchid this was the final look:

Orchid in rustic terracotta pot


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Beginner Drip Irrigation

Many of my past garden failures have been due to neglect. Usually at some point that coincides with the deep, humid heat of summer I get a little less enthusiastic about sweating in the sun and a lot more enthusiastic about sipping sangria in the shade. Want to know the number one task I neglect? Watering.  So it only makes sense that I would look at drip irrigation.

I never set up a sprinkler because I feel bad for wasting the water, but to hand water well you are going to be standing outside for a long time hose in hand. Luckily Western North Carolina gets large amounts of rainfall so watering is usually only necessary to get seeds started and in the deep summer. Which of course is the time I am least interested in standing around with a a garden hose.

Enter the idea for drip irrigation. The idea is to set up a series of little tubes that emit water at the base of the plant. That way water isn’t wasted on evaporation and is targeted exactly where it needs to go. Added bonus? No more watering the weeds in between your rows. After a lot of research I went with a very simple system that can be easily adapted with additional add-ons and/or retrofitted to use a rain barrel. That way as I find out our actual watering needs I won’t need to buy an entirely new system to make adjustments.

From my research I found out that most drip irrigation systems are pretty simple and made up of a few parts:

  1. Filter
  2. Pressure Regulator
  3. Main Line
  4. Items that emit water
  5. Misc. items to attach lines together

That’s pretty much the sum of the parts. The filter is necessary to keep the small driplines from clogging with sediment. The pressure regulator keeps the water from pouring out of the lines instead of dripping. The main line runs the water throughout the garden while the items that emit water attach to the mainline to, well, drip the water.

I got my items from Drip Works, which made it very simple by offering a basic kit with add-on kits to customize you irrigation for your space. I would caution you some of the add-on kits are more expensive than if you buy your pieces separately. Some of this is due to the fact you may not need exactly what was in the kit. So I got my ‘Heart of the Garden’ kit and just ordered my other pieces separately.

I really suggest watching their videos and checking out other drip irrigation sellers online to get an idea of what the market has to offer. Depending on what you are purchasing the prices can really fluctuate.

Drip Irrigation in Box
Our order

I will give you an idea of how our system is set up. The filter and pressure regulator go right at the main water hookup, which, in our case is just an outdoor faucet around the corner of the house. I made one miscalculation as to how low the filter and pressure regulator would make the hookup to the mainline and the curve is not so pretty. While it works I’ll probably need to order another small part to make my mainline sit flush along the porch.

Drip Irrigation home setup
McClain helping me unroll the mainline. It is much easier to lay out if you warm it in the sun first.

After the main line is hooked to the filter then it goes along the porch under mulch across the whole garden. I inserted a couple of elbows to make it around the corners as the main line is not very flexible so any place that makes a sharp turn is going to need them. Because the actual dripline can only run a certain amount of feet from the mainline and maintain pressure, I needed to run the lines not only across the garden but to the end of it. So that required two tees in the middle and I ran a main line down the center of each bed. The main line is the thick hose running down the center.

Example of the line spliced with a tee.

The final step was to hook up the drip line and space it around the beds to get water to the plants. This is where any system can get really complicated. There are microsprayers, single plant emitters, etc etc etc. I went with some basic drip line with openings ever 6 inches. Due to the fact I live on a giant pile of clay which really holds onto moisture, I’m not going to have to lay out a ton of lines. The water should spread out from the drip points. I put in the bare minimum I calculated I needed but bought extra so that I could tweak the system. One BIG suggestion if you are putting in a bunch of single emitters or a lot of lines in buy the extra insertion tool. I didn’t and my hands hurt badly. I had to have help with the final hook-ups.

Anyway here is the start of our drip irrigation season. I’m interested to see the changes I will need to make as I go. Anyone else use drip irrigation and can already point out my mistakes?