Orchid pots can be classified into three basic types:
Plastic orchid pots are lightweight making them more suitable for indoors. They are not porous thereby the media dries out much slowly.
For outdoors, plastic orchid pots, those ones manufactured to be ultra violet resisted would be best for this purpose. These orchid pots keep their flexibility and have reduced brittleness when out in the sun.
Also when using plastic orchid pots outdoors, clear plastic pots are better than colored or dark pots because these ones can actually act as heat collectors while in the sun causing the media to dry out. Clear orchid pots also help you monitor the moisture so as to avoid a soggy media from forming.
Plastic orchid pots are generally suitable for orchid plants that do not like to dry out completely between watering. This makes them more suitable to terrestrial and semi terrestrial types of orchids.
Terracotta orchid pots are heavier and therefore more resisted in turning over in strong wind. These pots are more suitable for outdoors. They are much cooler to use in the outdoor sun rather than plastic orchid pots.
In clay pots the media quickly dries out because the clay is porous so it wicks out the water content of the media. However clay orchid pots glazed on the inside would do well in retaining moisture.
Clay pots normally have one drainage hole situated in the bottom. Some designs include additional drainage holes or slits on the sides. These types of pots are known as clay orchid pots.
Terracotta orchid pots are suitable for orchids that like to dry out before the next watering. Terracotta is suitable for epiphytes- sympodial type of plant such as Cattleyas, laelia, Dendrobiums, Odontoglossom and Oncidiums.
An alternative to orchid pots is the basket. The basket is suitable for many types of orchids in particular to Vanda orchids, Hence the name Vanda baskets. The basket design can be of wire, mesh, wood or plastic. The root system of the plant weaves through the basket slats over the sides. To secure the plant in the basket and to provide moisture retention, a suitable media would be coconut chips or bark chunks. The advantage of basket orchid pots allow air to circulate around the root system. The disadvantage is that the media tends to dry out quickly. The baskets can be placed on the ground, table or bench. But they are normally hanged from the ceiling. The later approach is common in humid regions of the world.
Two most common types of supports are the tree fern plaques and cork bark. These two types can be of almost any shape. The plant, clingers securely onto the tree fern or cork for support; weaving its roots in and around it.
The cork comes in two main types, slabs (nuggets) and tubes (rounds). Cork slabs and tubes can be great in replicating a natural appearance of an orchid’s growing environment such as epiphytic conditions. If moisture is needed small pieces of moist sphagnum moss between the cork and the orchid roots is placed. This helps preserve moisture principally under drier growing conditions. Whereas with tree fern bark, orchid roots receive their moisture through the water retention properties of the tree fern.
Another type of container would be tree fern bark shaped into tree fern pots and baskets.
Orchids grown in baskets, cork bark or on tree fern plaques resemble more or less the way they would grow in the wild; attaching themselves on to trees, branches, decaying vegetation, rocks or cliffs than in orchid pots.
The descriptions above should help you in selecting the right type of orchid pots or containers for your orchid needs.
See “Essential Reading for Successful Orchid Growing” for more information on orchid pots and mediums used.