Should I Remove The Plastic From My Orchid? (Explained)

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Ah the old conundrum of should I remove the plastic from my orchid?

The first time I got gifted an orchid I asked this question of a few people and actually, there wasn’t a unanimous answer.

Since then I have grown numerous orchids and I have my own way of doing things, and you will see which camp I fall into in this article.

But in the interests of fairness, I have tried to outline both sides of the argument in this post.

So without further ado, let’s get started.

Should I Remove The Plastic From My Orchid?

As long as the plastic pot your orchid comes in has sufficient drainage and ventilation it is perfectly fine not to remove it until it has flowered. Transparent plastic pots allow you to keep an eye on the roots, retain moisture better and let you judge more accurately when your orchid needs to be watered.

Why You SHOULDN’T Remove the Plastic From Your Orchid

Orchids in pots

Now, this is the side of the argument I am on. I leave my orchids in the plastic pots they come in.

But I should preface all of this by saying these pots need to have drainage holes in them.

Usually they do, but if yours comes in a plastic pot without any drainage holes, then you need to make some.

So let’s go into why I don’t remove the plastic.

It Provides Light

When they are in clear plastic pots, the roots of the orchid act as if they were in nature growing on the side of a tree.

They can absorb sunlight, photosynthesize and add energy to the plant.

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Don’t just take my word for it, Calum Maddock, gardening expert at HomeHow, sings the praises of growing your orchids in the clear pots they come in, saying: “Most orchids are epiphytes, and in the wild, their roots are typically exposed to the air and light. Light can shine on the roots of the orchid, which is highly beneficial.”

It Makes It Easier to Know When Your Orchid Needs Watering

Clear pots allow you to better observe the potting medium for your orchid, so you can tell if it needs watering.

You can ascertain how much moisture is in the soil much more quickly, and without the need to stick your finger in!

It Makes It Easier to Inspect the Roots of Your Orchid

Along the same lines as above, clear pots make it easier to keep an eye on that old foe of many orchids – root rot!

If the roots of your orchid begin to look brown and soggy after watering, or they begin to look stringy then root rot could be on the way.

Good moisture balance is vital in orchid care and having a clear pot makes it much easier to see if the roots of your orchid are thriving or not.

Root rot can set in quite quickly and is especially linked to overwatering.

If you do begin to see these signs it doesn’t mean your orchid is beyond help, it can be saved if repotted.

It Makes it Easier to Switch Decorative Pots

If you plan on putting your orchid in a decorative pot, leaving it in its plastic container makes it much easier to do.

It is simply a case of moving out of one decorative pot and into another. This means there is less stress on the roots as they are not disturbed.

By the way, if you are planning on keeping your orchid in its clear pot in a decorative pot, when you water it you should remove it from the decorative pot to allow for proper drainage.

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It Increases the Humidity

Almost all orchids love high humidity.

As plastic doesn’t breathe it stays more humid in and around your orchid and retains more moisture in the pot mix.

Just what your orchid likes!

It Imitates the Natural Environment of an Orchid

We touched on this at the start, but an orchid’s natural habitat is in the hollows and cavities in trees and rocks.

Here they are naturally exposed to the sun and air and benefit from it.

Having them in a transparent container is a better way of replicating that environment.

On top of that, in my experience, I have noticed orchids in non-transparent containers tend to grow more of their roots upwards and out of the container.

Why You SHOULD Remove the Plastic From Your Orchid

Orchid in pot next to phone

As I have said, I leave my orchids in the plastic container they come in.

If it doesn’t have drainage holes then I make sure it does.

There are advocates for removing the plastic from your orchid though and to try and be balanced I’ve listed the reasons you might want to remove the plastic from your orchid below.

It Restricts Airflow

Orchids are epiphytic and their roots require airflow.

Plastic wraps and containers can limit that airflow and stifle ventilation if they do not have enough slots, holes and air vents.

It Could Increase the Likelihood of Root Rot

If not adequately drained the roots of your orchid could get soaked in excess water.

This oversaturation of the roots will put them at higher risk of fungal infection, disease and root rot.

Again this will be a problem if the plastic pot doesn’t have proper drainage holes, etc.

It Allows You To Spot Bugs More Easily

Another problem for orchids is the various pests that love to inhabit the same potting medium as them.

Sometimes these can be almost invisible to the naked eye and would certainly be more difficult to spot in a plastic pot.

When You Should Remove Your Orchid From the Plastic

You should remove your orchid from its plastic pot when it has flowered, and the blossoms have fallen off or wilted.

In fact, this is the perfect time to do so and repot it.

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Remove it from the plastic container, and repot it in a similar size container or at most one size larger if needed.

This will give you an opportunity to inspect the root system for any potential problems and give it a change of potting medium.

Then it will be good to go again!

Final Thoughts

For me, there are a number of reasons why I think orchids need transparent pots, and why there is nothing wrong with keeping them in the plastic pots they come in.

I think for beginners it is especially beneficial as it makes it much easier to keep an eye on their roots.

Also plastic pots retain more moisture in the soil, keep the roots warmer when it is cold and generally make caring for your plant much easier.

It isn’t a must to keep your orchid in the plastic it comes in and, as you can see, there are arguments either way.

In fact, I know there are many people who remove orchids from their plastic pots as soon as they get them.

But for me as long as the pot has sufficient ventilation and drainage and is reasonably resilient I see no reason to remove it until it has flowered.

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