Pots and other containers

I think it is safe to say that most orchids are grown in pots. While other types of containers might be more appropriate for some types of orchid plants (wooden or plastic baskets and various kinds of mounts to name a couple), pots are widely available, inexpensive, and easy to use.

Pots are available in many styles and most are composed of either plastic or some kind of clay or pottery. ALL orchid pots should provide good drainage and have additional holes in or near the bottom to allow adequate air flow.

Plastic is generally my material of preference for the following reasons:

  • Widely available
  • Lightweight
  • Inexpensive
  • Keeps the media more moist
  • Easy to clean

My experience with clay pots is that by contrast they are heavy (I have seen orchid growing benches break under the additional weight), comparatively expensive, often difficult to find, and the clay material tends to wick the moisture away from the outside of the potting material and orchid roots leaving the center wet and the sides too dry; I prefer that the entire contents of the pot remains uniformly moist.

Fancy glazed pots are sometimes also available, but while they look nice, I find them usually more difficult to grow plants well in.

Azalea pots are about the right depth for most orchids, always have at least 8 holes in the bottom, are available in all popular sizes, and I use them for 95% of my orchid plants with good success.

Two exceptions to the above come to mind: Vandas (which generally do not tolerate any materials around their roots) and Stanhopeas (which send flower spikes down from the bottom of the plant.)

  • Vandas I generally grow in wooden or plastic baskets with no media
  • Stanhopeas I grow in wooden or plastic baskets with media

I don’t grow many orchid plants attached to mounts; my growing conditions are much too dry to grow mounted plants well. I have tried it many times and always failed miserably.

In the next blog entry I will talk about potting media, one of the most controversial topics in the orchid community, partly because every grower has a slightly different growing environment and different growing techniques.

Author: Bob

Bob has been growing orchids since 1985 and commercially since 1989. He has had several orchid articles published in the AOS Bulletin, AOS Culture Guide, and in Orchids Magazine. He currently resides in Chapel Hill, NC and runs Carrboro Tropicals, Chapel Hill's only provider of locally-grown orchid plants.

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