Help! My orchid is potted in a non-draining pot. What should I do?
It has happened to all of us…we are at the store and there is this cute orchid, in a decorative pot. This orchid would be perfect as a last minute gift or you just want to bring it home. Once bought we realize that this orchid is in a pot with NO drainage hole (as shown below). This is wrong on so many levels! Orchids need drainage to survive. They naturally live in the jungle on a tree, with free flowing water. Unlike other plants, orchids hate being in standing water! They WILL die in this environment because they 100% will get root rot eventually. It is essential to have your orchids in a pot that allows water to flow freely out the bottom, check out my favorite pots HERE.
But what to do? Well if you just want to enjoy the blooming orchid and then throw it away go ahead but secretly I will be judging you:) If you want a potted plant, that likes standing in water, I suggest getting a mum or poinsettia. Most people think orchids are impossible to grow, which is the a myth, and they end up throwing them away. This is expensive and not necessary! Orchids are easy to grow as long as you know what to do.
So if you want to see this sweet orchid bloom again and thrive then you have another option. It can be confusing, in this case, because every website says to wait to repot orchids after their blooms have fallen…. NOT in this case! They need to escape this environment ASAP! And unfortunately they may already be lost if their roots have rotted from overwatering. This is because even if they were given the proper amount of water, their roots would be sitting in this water instead of it freely running over their roots and out of the bottom of the pot. Hopefully they have not rotted… If your plant is not dead, do this;
1. GENTLY pull the plant out of the closed container. Hopefully, inside the pot with no drainage, there is another clear plastic container with drainage. If this is the case…leave it alone outside of the “bad” pot. It may need to dry out a bit before you next water it. The next time you water it – follow these watering instructions. Once watered you may put it back in the decorative container but only after the water has flushed through it and out the bottom. I would also wait to put it back in the decorative pot until it has sat outside for an hour or so – just to make sure there is no extra water that may drain out later. Don't water it in the decorative container because the water will just pool at the bottom and not drain out.
2. If there is not an inside clear pot – you are in trouble! – soak it in a tub of water for ten minutes and see if you can gently pull it out. If it won't budge you may have to break to the pot in order to gently take it out.
Moving an already bloomed orchid from one pot to another is called “drop potting” and should only be done in extreme situations such as this. You are not going to want to fully repot. Once you have freed the orchid from the suffocating pot you will want to “drop” (place gently) the orchid, IN ITS ORIGINAL mix into a similar size pot. In extreme situations I cut off the bloom/stem when I realized the roots were so bad that they could not support this bloom and the whole plant would die. Orchids work in a balance between their leaves, blooms and roots. When out of balance they are in distress and can die.
3. Now that your orchid is in a cozy and free draining home let it rest for a bit before watering. Hopefully the new drainage will allow it to bloom happily for months, but quite often you may loose some blooms because repotting an orchid while in bloom can create “bud blast.” This has happened to me….the blooms that were not opened yet, fell off. This does not mean it's dying it is just adjusting to it's new home and is protecting itself by letting it blooms fall off.
4. Once your orchid is done blooming follow these repotting instructions because they will need completely new mix.
Note: Here are more pictures I took at local grocery stores for your reference. These are potted in non draining pots.
Hope that Helps,
Feel free to leave comments or questions.