Sounds to me like it is time to repot your orchid! Orchids are epiphytic so their roots need lots of oxygen. When the orchid ‘potting mix’ (usually a mix of bark, perlite and peat) begins to break down into soil, it holds too much water which invites root rot and fungus gnats. Needless to say, your orchid won’t be happy for long in such conditions. It is pretty simple to repot an orchid. Buy some new orchid potting mix. Remove the orchid from the pot and rinse off the roots. Trim off any roots that are withered, brown or rotting; orchid roots should be white and fleshy. Wash the pot thoroughly (especially important because of the fungus gnats.) Hold the orchid in the clean pot so that the roots, including any that may have grown out of the pot, are in the pot and gently pack the new media around them. Normally you would repot every one to two years after the orchid has finished blooming and has just started its dormant stage, but since you are having trouble with the gnats, I recommend you do it now regardless of whether it is blooming or not. Margaret has some great general information and links on keeping orchids here:
thanks! – will follow your suggestion though I have the first new stalk covered with buds that I have ever been able to get from this 4 yr old plant
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Welcome! I’m Margaret Roach, a leading garden writer for 25 years—at ‘Martha Stewart Living,’ ‘Newsday,’ and in three books. I host a public-radio podcast; I also lecture, plus hold tours at my 2.3-acre Hudson Valley (NY) Zone 5B garden, and always say no to chemicals and yes to great plants.