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What happens if the orchid pot is too big?

Posted by snrose 7A LI NY (My Page) on
Thu, Aug 4, 11 at 18:52

Hello everyone! New orchid grower here...

I just got through repotting a couple orchids but the only pots I could find at the store were a little bigger than what was strictly necessary. Conventional wisdom says that this is not good but I don't see any posts about why it's bad or what might happen. Can anyone enlighten me?

Background: One plant went from the original 4 inch clear plastic container into a 7 inch glazed ceramic orchid pot. The other plant was basically the same except it's a tiny plant with only about 1 inch of roots and it's now in a 4 inch orchid pot.

Also, in order to fill up the pots, I used a mix of about 80% orchid bark mix and 20% sphagnum moss. I've never used sphagnum before. Can anyone advise me how best to water them? I used to just put them in the sink and drench the bark with water but now I'm concerned that the moss might retain too much moisture. Is drenching still the way to go or should I pour a limited/measured amount of water?

Thanks so much! Orchid are fun!


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: What happens if the orchid pot is too big?

Drenching is almost always the best way to water. Lots of water through the top of the medium.

What kind of orchid are we talking about? What form of sphagnum?

In general, orchids want alternating wet, dry. Not bone dry but not with constant moisture. The roots start to die and rot away. The top of the plant starts to look under-watered and our instinct says to water more when we should have been watering less.

The glazed ceramic pots are a poor choice for potting. Much better is plastic and setting that in the glazed pot for display during the time the plant is in bloom.

RE: What happens if the orchid pot is too big?

The bigger one is a phalaenopsis and the smaller one is a mystery. We rescued it from a terrarium where it looked really unhappy. I haven't seen it bloom yet so I have no idea what it is. It has roots and not bulbs if that helps.

The sphagnum is "Mosser Lee Long-Fibered Sphagnum". I've included the link below for more information.

The glazed pot is bad? Really? It's an orchid pot with lots of holes on the sides. It seems like the plastic would be much worse since it only had holes at the bottom. Granted, I can't see the roots anymore but I feel like the orchids will get a lot more air around their roots in the new pots.

I guess my main concern was that I didn't want to over-saturate the moss with water. Perhaps I should see how the moss acts before I start to worry.

Thanks for your help!

Here is a link that might be useful: Sphagnum Moss Link

RE: What happens if the orchid pot is too big?

The main problem with a pot too large is that it will take a long time to dry out completely as the plant can't take up all of the mositure. Root rot ensues if you are not careful. I don't use the fancy glazed orchid pots, but the openness of the pots should help them to dry a bit quicker.

Good luck,


RE: What happens if the orchid pot is too big?

Lots of holes is a good thing. Too large a pot for the amount of roots is not good. Most orchid roots like to dry out. Too much medium will stay wet too long with not enough roots to use the moisture, and the roots can rot. Also, orchids bloom better with tight shoes.

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