Plastic vs Terra Cotta?

by Meredith
(Williamstown, MA)

All of my phals were in plastic pots and most had beginning to be soft roots. So... I just put most of them in terra cotta knowing I will need to water more. Should I use the ice cube advice manufacturers give or soak them once a week?

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Jul 24, 2011
My Thoughts On Plastic and Terra Cotta for Phals.
by: Melissa

Hi Meredith,

Thanks for your great question.

I have most of my Phals. in plastic pots and do not really have a problem with "soft" roots.

Mostly I get issues with rotting roots if: 1) I water too much (which I don't do!). Or 2) if the pot it is in does not drain sufficiently. This does not happen any more because I always check and provide good drainage for Phals.

I prefer the clear plastic orchid pots for my Phals. but have them in green plastic, terra cotta and on mounts very successfully. By very successfully I mean they thrive and bloom.

The only issue I find with terra cotta (other than the one you mentioned about needing a little more water because they are more porous) is that when re-potting I need to soak the plant more to carefully be able to remove the roots from the pot. Because the terra is porous, the roots tend to stick to the pot and require a fair bit of soaking and some careful coaxing to get them to come loose without breaking them.

I would go with the watering once a week senerio. I REALLY discourage you from using the ICE CUBE METHOD of watering Phalaenopsis. I do not care what the growers say on a tag. The ice cube method is in my way of thinking a lazy and not very good approach. I think it is a simple way to encourage those that might be intimidated by orchids to consider buying one as it is so easy to do.

I do not think it provides enough water for the plants and nowhere in the wild do Phals grow where they are watered with water just above freezing. When the ice cubes melt the water is still VERY cold.

Don't do it that way. Put your plants in a sink or somewhere where you can run water through them a few times and then put them back in their growing place.

Perhaps water once a week is too much (and of course less in winter) in your given situation.

Just a thought.

Good luck with it.


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