What To Do With Phalaenopsis Aerial Roots When Repotting?

by Becky
(New Hampton IA)

I have a moth orchid that I repotted today. I have several arial roots that I previously thought should be staked like the flower spike. Now I see I was wrong...there are so many roots. What is the difference in the looks of the flower spike & what do I do with the arial roots that are growing out of the pot?

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Aug 04, 2011
Aerial Roots
by: Melissa

Hi Becky, Thanks for your question.

This must be a lively question as there have been two comments already.

My take on roots for Phals.

Roots are GOOD. I am happy to have them as is the orchid.

No I do not stake them.

When I repot Phals. (and yes some of those big white Phals. have long roots) I generally do not cut them unless they are unhealthy or rotten. If possible without breaking them I will tuck them in the media some but if they stick up, it does not bother me.

Phals. are epiphytes and as such like to use the roots to attach to trees and hang out in the air. I have several of my Phals. on mounts or sticks with almost all the roots in the air.

When a spike very first comes from the plant (near the crown) it is hard to distinguish between a root and a spike. Very early on a flower spike will have what I call a "mitten" shape at the end. Sort of like a little ridge and the end looks a bit like a hand in a mitten. Roots are a little more pointed and lack that same shape. Using this method I mostly can tell by the time the spike is a half inch or so which is plenty of time to stake it. I usually do not stake them until later and then do it very carefully so as not to break the flower spike.

I will have to check out the url that was mentioned in the other comment.

Hope this helps.


Aug 04, 2011
Phal Roots
by: Anonymous

If the aerial roots are coming out from the top of the soil you don't necessarily need to repot but make sure you mist them when when you water the plants. I have seen some phaleonopsis That are large was very long aerial roots. They will have a whitish sheen and when misted more green. If the roots are coming out of the bottom of the pot Then it needs to be repotted. There are some really good videos on youtube which will take you step by step on the repotting process.

This site might also how to be able to tell difference between a spike and a root.


Aug 03, 2011
Phal Roots
by: Jan Mertens


Have been walking around with that question too, and haven't found an answer yet.
A few are still in flower but will need repotting this year.


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