When it comes to choosing the correct pot for your houseplant, there are a couple of basic things to consider. The container should be large enough to hold the plant, taking into account some growth. Otherwise, the plant can be either restricted in size or repotted into a larger container at a later date. Whatever pot you choose, it must also accommodate the need for watering.
The aesthetics, however, is entirely down to personal taste and budget. It’s a good idea to make sure the style and colour of the pot will not only suit the room but also suit the plant.
With the resurgence of the houseplant’s popularity, designers and homeware shops are offering an increased range of pots to choose from, but home-made options are unique and could cost you a lot less. Try jazzing up a basic bowl by painting it with blackboard paint, which you could then decorate with chalk, or by wrapping it in a piece of fabric or strip of silver birch bark.
Alternatively, think “outside the pot” and use containers that might not be conventionally used as plant pots. You could, for example, try one of the following:
Recycled kitchen tins and cans
Old stereo speakers
Disused chairs with the upholstery taken out of the seat
Unwanted shoes; think wellies or even stilettos!
Watering and Drainage
There are two options for potting a houseplant; either the plant goes directly into a closed pot, the container that will be on display, or it is kept in a plastic pot with drainage holes, that is then disguised by a more attractive outer pot (which is usually watertight).
For smooth, mess-free watering, the latter option is best, and there is less risk of over-watering, provided excess water is not allowed to pool in the base of the outer pot. Closed pots have no drainage holes and need more careful watering to ensure the compost does not become too saturated.
How to Clean Pots
Plastic pots can simply be scrubbed using a cloth soaked in warm, soapy water. All traces of soil and grime should be rinsed away. If necessary, they can be added to a gentle bleach solution, to completely sterilise them, which may be a good idea to remove all bacteria if you intend to grow seedlings in them. Bacteria in leftover soil can, unfortunately, cause the seedlings to topple over. Clay pots can be cleaned using steel wool and diluted vinegar for the best results. This is particularly effective for removing any lingering traces of salt.
Many garden centres and retailers sell orchid pots; colourful, attractive outer pots that can hold an orchid (usually Phalaenopsis) in a clear plastic pot. The roots of orchids, as well as the leaves, contain chlorophyll and will grow up towards the light to get the required nutrients. This can look messy, depending on your point of view, and can make the plant unstable in the pot. A clear container allows light to get into the pot, so the roots don’t have to climb out in search of sun.
It is ideal, though not necessary, to keep an orchid in a clear glass or plastic pot with drainage holes, as this will mean most of the roots will stay inside the container. It’s also useful for checking how moist the soil is inside the pot.
Luxury Phalaenopsis: Pack of Three Moth Orchids with Gold Pots
Commonly known as the Moth Orchid, Phalaenopsis is one of the most popular indoor Orchids available. Large, showy blooms rise above the leathery foliage on slender, black stems. The flowers are irresistibly luxurious, bringing instant elegance to your home and lasting up to several months. These stylish houseplants can bloom at any time throughout the year, and with the right care, will flower for many years to come. While in flower, Phalaenopsis Orchids require a sunny position with a night-time temperature of 16-19C (61-66F) and day temperatures between 19-30C (66-86F). Choose a brightly lit location away from draughts and radiators, avoiding the direct glare of the sun.
Monkey Puzzle Tree
For those of you who have space for a larger indoor plant, which comes supplied with an attractive pot, why not consider a Monkey Puzzle Tree (Araucaria heterophylla)? As an added bonus, it can be used as an alternative to a Christmas tree! It really is a beautiful tree, having tiers of fan-shaped branches and is easy to care for, not requiring any pruning. It is best kept indoors over winter, as although it can tolerate low temperatures, it would not survive being frozen. The Monkey Puzzle Tree is slow growing, and its new growth in spring is a vibrant green, which darkens in the autumn. It prefers bright light and should be kept near a window, or it could lose its needles.
Senecio ‘String of Pearls’ (House Plant)
Here is a fascinating idea; an indoor hanging basket which can also be positioned on a high shelf for maximum effect. This exotic houseplant spills over the side of its pot with long trailing stems, of round beaded foliage – hence its name of “string of pearls”. You will be pleased to learn that they are easy to care for, with their only requirements being plenty of light and occasional watering. They are not keen on drafts, so keep them away from an open window. As an added bonus, they are said to help purify the air in your home. A single plant may look a little spindly, and they look at their best when clumped together.
Do you think having an attractive pot is necessary? Or is it all about the plant? Have you recycled anything and turned it into an indoor pot?