How to Choose the Right Pot for Your Orchid
The exotic, flamboyant flowers of orchids nodding gracefully on slender stems always steal the show; naturally their pots always play second fiddle. As it turns out, the containers orchids grow in really do matter if you want your star to survive and thrive. Whether you're repotting an older orchid that has outgrown its home or you're looking to upgrade the container, there are important things to know about the different pot types available to you. To help us sort out the details, we asked Susie Turner, orchid expert and owner of Green Door Design in Mill Valley, California, for some tips on choosing the best orchid pot.
Don't Toss the Plastic Container
Guess what? An orchid should ideally live and grow in a plastic or terra-cotta grow pot. "Pots for growing orchids must have drainage holes or slits in the container to ensure your plant doesn't get soggy, wet feet," says Turner. "The pot must also be clean and sterilized to prevent fungus, viruses, or bug invasions, and be properly sized for your plant."
Pick the Right Size Pot
If you're repotting, the new pot should be just slightly larger than the previous grow pot, otherwise, there will be too much growing medium, and the possibility that water will collect in the root zone. When selecting a new pot, go up just one inch in size.
What to Buy
Surprisingly, Turner's top choice for grow pots are clear plastic pots with drainage holes. The benefits of clear pots are you can inspect your potting medium and observe as it dries out. You can also keep a close eye on the roots and check for pests, rotting, or overcrowding. Plastic pots are easy to plop into different decorative containers for when you want to switch things up, and they allow orchid roots to take in sunlight, just as they would in their natural habitat. Another popular choice is porous terra-cotta grow pots because they allow air and water to pass through (this is the choice of traditional orchid enthusiasts.) As for specialty pots, the most important feature to look for is if the pot has multiple drainage holes, slats, or cut-outs on the sides as well at the bottom to allow for drainage and airflow.
When grouping multiple orchids in one decorative pot, keep each orchid in its plastic grow pot. "When multiple orchids are placed together, the individual plants should have a little space [in between] and not be squeezed too tightly together," says Turner. "Next, place small pebbles underneath them to catch excess water and decorative moss or rock on top to create a seamless design." And forget spending a lot of money on a big decorative container. Turner encourages her clients to look in their own home for a beautiful old ceramic or wooden bowl, an urn, or some other large vessel that will nicely hold a group of orchids to create a beautiful display.
When Using a Decorative Container
Just remember that if your decorative container is a cachepot and doesn't have drain holes, you'll need to remove the orchid from its pot, water it over a sink, and then return it to its home once all the water has drained.