Orchids Don’t NEED Clear Pots (But They Can Help Them Grow)

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I’ve recently gotten into orchids. I saw one and was like YOU MUST BE MINE

That’s never happened with a flowering plant before, so I trusted my cut. I’m usually all about the foliage.

Look though:

pansy orchid

Of COURSE it was one of the more difficult to keep orchids. Buuuut I’m trying my best.

First thing I did was rush out and buy a clear orchid pot.

Why? Er, not sure.

I just knew, deep in my soul, that orchids like clear pots. It’s just one of those…things you know.

Clearly if I want to keep this orchid alive* I needed to do more research.

*Keeping orchids alive is a SAVAGE business. I had to cut off her flower spikes because they're wasting energy. 

I felt awful. 

But then she had a freaking BABY that I also had to remove. Honestly, if she never blooms for me again I won't blame her.

Why do we keep orchids in clear pots?

There are a couple reasons why we keep orchids in clear pots. One main one and then a sort of ‘nice to have’ one.

Orchid roots photosynthesise

Most plant roots don’t photosynthesise. I wrote an article on clear plant pots a while back and came to the conclusion that plant roots grow best in the dark.

So why are orchids different?

I’m sure there’s a sciencey way of putting this but for us simple folk:

Orchids roots don’t grow in the ground. They’re not used to being in the dark (perhaps they’re scared??). Orchids are epiphytic, which means they grow on trees, and their roots are out in the open.

We can also assume from this that orchid roots are used to a LOT of airflow. Putting them in dense soil in the dark is probs not the way to go here (I’m talking directly to every supermarket in the UK here).

Clear orchid pots usually have slats in the sides so that air can flow. USing a chunky orchid mix also helps the roots breathe.

The reason that orchid roots are sometimes green is that they contain chlorophyll so they can photosynthesise. But apparently if they’re not green that’s not necessarily a bad thing. They should go green after they’re watered but not stay green.

Are we all clear (including our pots lol lol lol?)

Clear pots allow us to keep an eye on the roots

This isn’t that big of a deal, but if you’re worried about your orchid, it’s a lot easier to check the roots in a clear pot than an opaque one. \

You can’t actually see many of the roots of my orchid:

orchid in clear pot
Don't worry she's not gonna be standing in water for long

I really struggle with watering orchids. The medium never seems to be damp and you can’t use a moisture meter. I just have hope it’s not dying of either under or over watering.

Do we need to keep orchids in clear pots?

No. You can keep orchids in whatever type of pot you like but it’ll always be a bit more difficult than if you had a clear pot. What you could do is GENTLY pull a few of the roots out of the medium and lay them on top of your potting medium so the light hits them. Orchids are quite often sold like this anyway.

bit of root escapage there

As long as the roots get some light they’ll be able to photosynthesise.

Orchid leaves can photosynthesise as well, so if you keep the roots in a normal, opaque pot they’ll still be able to photosynthesise, but they won’t be able to get as much energy as they could if it were in a clear pot.

Alternatives to keeping orchids in clear pots

  • Driftwood

I freaking LOVE this look.

How cool!

After a while the roots and leaves cover the wood and it looks like a really cool piece of art

I watched a Summer Rayne Oakes video where she was visiting a botanical garden in Hamburg (I think) and they did something very similar to the picture above but they attached the orchids with old tights (pantyhose) because it blends in better than string and is gentler on the plants.


Also, a great way to use up old tights.

  • Nothing
orchids with no no pot or substrate

The pot is literally only there to give them something to hang them from. They sell these in my local garden centre and I’m always tempted but they’re like £50 and WHERE AM I GONIG TO PUT IT?

  • a kokedama

Soil wrapped in moss, not a pot to be seen.

orchid kokedama

This is cool because the roots can go through the moss. Also…it’s just cool

Where to buy clear orchid pots

You can get them on Amazon but be very careful with sizing.

They always seem to be smaller than you think. Garden centres are probably a better bet if you’re looking for something specific.

If you do go the Amazon route, don’t forget to check out the pond plant pots.

They’re basically net pots but they tend to be better value and have a great section of sizes.

You can also repurpose glass jars – bonus points if you drill drainage holes in them (you can use a diamond drill bit – this is an awesome video that shows you how to do it).

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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