Orchids are one of the most popular plants in the world and for good reason, they come in all sizes and colors and can last for years.
With so many types out there, it is no wonder people frequently ask ‘can multiple orchids be potted together?’.
On the face of it, that sounds like a very reasonable question.
It would save space, potentially combine several beautiful blooms and make watering and maintaining them a lot easier.
But is it a good idea?
We take a closer look in this article.
Can Multiple Orchids Be Potted Together?
Multiple orchids should not be grown in the same pot. Different varieties of orchids have different needs when it comes to water, temperature and light. Having multiple orchids in the same pot could see the strongest smothering the others and absorbing all the nutrients from the soil. Disease and pests will also spread much more quickly between the plants.
Why You Shouldn’t Plant Multiple Orchids in the Same Pot
Different Orchids Have Different Needs
The sheer size and variety of the orchid family is its downfall here.
It is one of the largest and most diverse groups of flowering plants in the world, with over 25,000 individual species.
Each variety has its own needs when it comes to watering, temperature and light.
Trying to manage the needs of a number of different orchids potted together would be very difficult indeed.
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So if you are considering growing different orchids in the same pot, they would need to be of the same genus and species.
Even then there is no guarantee of success.
One could develop more powerful roots and deprive the others of the majority of nutrients in the soil
One Orchid May Dominate the Pot
Effectively just expanding on the above point, if you have a number of orchids in a pot it is unlikely that they will all grow at the same rate.
I once planted two Phalaenopsis in the same pot.
Both were in excellent shape when I potted them, but one thrived and effectively smothered the other.
When I repotted them the stronger one had moist, healthy roots whilst the roots of the other one were bone dry.
Disease and Pests Can Spread Quickly
One sick orchid in a pot will quickly infect the others.
No matter how quickly you identify it, in such close contact, it will be very difficult to keep disease to just one of the plants.
In the same way, common pests like mealy bugs, aphids and spider mites will be able to move between orchids potted together much quicker and more easily than if potted separately.
Their Roots May Intertwine
Having two or more orchids planted together will also lead to the roots of each plant getting tangled up, and that means…
Repotting Them Will Be Difficult
Once the roots of two plants get intertwined, then separating them to repot becomes somewhat of a headache.
When you repot multiple orchids in one pot, if they come apart easily then you can pot them up separately.
However, if the roots are so tangled together it is hard to separate them, you will need to pot them back up together rather than risk possible root damage trying to untangle them.
Making Sure They Get the Correct Amount of Light is Difficult
Growing a number of orchids in one pot means the group needs to be lighted uniformly.
If the light falls from a certain side then all the orchids will strain for that light, when some may not be positioned correctly to get it.
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How to Plant Multiple Orchids Together (Without Them Being in the Same Pot)
If you still want to pot multiple orchids together then there is a cheat that gives you all the advantages of individual potting, whilst making it look like the orchids are potted together.
That cheat is to either buy or create your own ‘pot-set’.
Essentially these are several individually potted orchids in one large decorative container, but with the plant bases covered in moss so it looks like they are all planted together in the same container.
This allows the roots to have their own space, so they are not fighting with the roots of the other orchids. It also allows you to tailor your care routine to each orchid individually but makes maintaining them more straightforward.
Whilst it doesn’t eliminate the risk of disease spreading between them, it does make it more unlikely and if one orchid is struggling or looking unhappy you can quickly and easily replace it with something else.
You can buy plant pot sets online or you can quickly and easily create your own.
Simply buy a large decorative pot and place several individual potted plants in that.
Place loose moss over the top to hide the separate pots and no one will know any different!
If you don’t like this idea and still want to plant more than one orchid in the same pot, then make sure there is some kind of air movement between the plants.
I’ve tried this with a raised grate in the base of the pot,
You still have to be very careful when you are watering, and it would not completely eliminate the possibility of some kind of bad bacteria passing from one to the other.
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The Benefits of Having Multiple Orchids Potted Together
It would be remiss of me not to list the advantages of growing more than one orchid in the same pot, as undoubtedly there are some.
- A show of multiple spikes in one pot looks great.
- Two or more orchids in one large pot takes up less space than having several smaller pots.
- Maintenance is more straightforward. It is much easier and quicker to feed and water them.
But you have to ask yourself, do those benefits outweigh the disadvantages?
So technically yes, multiple orchids can be potted together, but in practice, they shouldn’t be.
Imagine you move into your first apartment. It is a tiny studio apartment, but all you need.
Then a couple of years later your partner moves in.
Then a couple of years after this, you have a child and then another.
By now that studio apartment would be getting seriously overcrowded!
There would be little room for healthy living for each individual.
You all have different sleeping patterns, one person gets a cold and it quickly spreads to everyone, and you would probably all be getting very stressed!
It is the same with trying to grow a number of orchids in one pot. They will have the best chance of success and growing healthily if they all have their own individual pots.
They will be happier and healthier in the same way you would be if you moved out of that studio apartment into a bigger house!