Choosing the Best Pots for Growing Orchids (with Examples)


Best pots for growing orchids

Orchids grow best in transparent plastic pots with a width of 6 inches across and with drainage holes in the sides and in the base. Clear pots with holes in the sides allow light and air to circulate around the roots which facilitates root respiration, photosynthesis and prevents root rot.

Orchids can be grown in a plastic pot and placed in a larger, outer decorative pot to look more elegant in the home. Terracotta pots are more porous and breathable compared to other materials and are heavy enough to counter balance a top heavy orchid which can topple over.

Keep reading to learn why plastic pots are better and for the optimal pot size for your orchids…

Best Pots for Growing Orchids

Orchids can grow in any pot as long as there are drainage holes in the base but some pots are more favorable then others because of of the unusual characteristics of the orchids root system.

The best pots for growing orchids are clear plastic pots with decorative outer pots. A transparent plastic pot with extra holes in the sides allows light and air to reach the roots. Orchids are epiphytes so their roots require more oxygen and light for respiration and photosynthesis.

Orchids grow best in transparent pots with holes in the side and base for good air circulation and drainage.
Orchids grow best in transparent pots with holes in the side and base for good air circulation and drainage.

Orchids naturally grow on other trees or in loose gritty soils with their roots absorbing water vapor from the air around them and using the light to produce energy for the plant.

Therefore planting orchids in plastic pots with pine bark potting medium effectively emulates the natural growing conditions of the orchid in your home.

Roots are also a key indicator of orchid health so having a transparent pot is beneficial to assessing where your orchids needs more water or not, with green roots indicating good healthy and shriveling indicating drought stress (read my article how to water orchids).

Orchids are also very particular about their preferred potting medium with pine bark chipping have the best araeted structure to allow for good drainage and air circulation.

However like all organic matter, pine bark decays after 2 years or so which decreases the available oxygen around the roots and reduces the porous structure that facilitates good drainage which can lead to root rot and be the cause of your orchids leaves turning yellow and dying.

Therefore a transparent pot allows you to keep an eye on the state of the potting medium so you can easily judge when it needs to be replaced before it causes a problem for your orchid (Read my article how to revive a dying orchid).

Orchids are however a very glamorous houseplant that adds an air of sophistication to any house and a clear plastic pot may detract from the aesthetic appeal of the plant which is understandable.

Therefore an excellent comprise is to place your plastic pot in a stylish terracotta or ceramic outer pot.

Ceramic pots are quite heavy which should counter balance your orchid. as orchids grow very tall and can be top heavy so they can easily topple over in a light pot.

A decorative outer pot can also prevent water spilling in the home after watering your orchid but it is essential that you do not allow excess water to pool around the bottom of your orchid as they are very susceptible to root rot in damp conditions.

Best Pot Size for Growing Orchids

Houseplant orchids should be planted in pots of around 6 inches across with the same proportionate depth for optimal growth, flowering and to prevent root rot. Orchids grow best in smaller pot sizes with the roots slightly constricted as it promotes flowering.

Orchids display more flowers in smaller pots.
Orchids display more flowers in smaller pots.

The reason why orchids should planted in 6 inch pot is because larger pots contain more potting medium which has a greater capacity for holding moisture. More moisture around the roots of orchids increases the risk of root rot significantly which can causes the roots to die back and kill the orchid.

A smaller pot of around 6 inches across holds less potting medium and provides a better balance of moisture for the orchids roots which require good air circulation for root respiration and do not tolerate damp conditions for an extended period.

Planting orchids in large pots also causes the orchid to redirect more energy into growing an extensive root system and diverts energy away from flowering.

With a smaller pot the roots are slightly constricted which is actually improves the development of flowers. Orchids that are planted in relatively small pots display more flowers compared to when planted in larger pots.

Typically orchids in 6 inch pots do not need to be repotted to a larger pot due to their limited growth and the preference for incentivising flowering. However orchids should be repotted with new potting medium (pine bark chipping is better then moss or potting soil) once every 2 or 3 years.

Good Drainage in the Base of the Pot

The most important feature of orchid pots is that it should have a drainage hole in the base to allow excess water to escape after watering. Without a drainage hole in the base of your pot, water pools at the bottom of the pot around the orchids roots which causes root rot and the orchid dies back.

Orchids are often sold in clear plastic pots which have drainage holes in the base to allow excess water to escape and they often have holes in the side of the pot to allow more air to circulate around the orchids roots as orchids are epiphytes, which means they grow on trees or in loose gravel, so they have adapted to having lots of oxygen available for root respiration and to absorb water vapor from the surrounding air.

However it is not practical to have water spilling in the house after each bout of watering so it is a good idea to place the orchid in a decorative outer pot or on a saucer or tray.

It is important to empty the saucer, tray or outer pot of moisture regularly after watering to ensure it is dry and that excess water can drain freely and is not pooling around the roots, to prevent root rot.

Key Takeaways:

  • Orchids grow best in plastic pots with holes in the sides and base for improved air circulation around the roots. Transparent plastic pots allow light and oxygen to reach the roots for respiration and photosynthesis to keep the orchid healthy and avoid root rot.
  • The optimal size for an orchid pot is around 6 inches in width with the same proportionate depth. A 6 inch orchid pot holds less moisture to reduce the risk of root rot and keeps the roots slightly confined which promotes orchid flowering.
  • Always plant orchids in pots with drainage holes in the base to prevent water pooling around the roots which causes the orchid to die back. Empty saucers, trays and decorative outer pots regularly so that excess water can escape from the bottom of the pot.
  • Place orchids in stylish terracotta and ceramic outer pots to counterbalance top heavy orchids that could topple. Terracotta is porous which allows for air circulation around the roots which mimics the orchids naturally areaeted conditions in their native environment.

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