Pot in a pot in a pot concept.

orchidnickOctober 17, 2013

30 odd years ago, don't know exactly when, some seedlings Santa Barbara Orchid Estates was growing, got out of hand and were growing into each others pots etc. Paul Gripp instructed his help to up-pot them. There were so many seedlings and not enough help that he took a shortcut and told the guys to just place the 2 1/2" pot seedlings into a larger pot without the bark and the redo in order to save time. This would at least separate them from each other and they would come back in a month or 2 to do it right.

The month went by and when they came back a year later he found that the plants were doing just fine without their help, thank you very much.. Roots were filling the empty space and the plats were developing fine. The light went on for Paul and he decided to leave them like that and just move them up into a larger pot when necessary. At least for the West Coast, the pot in a pot idea originated there and SBOE has used the concept extensively ever since.

I got the idea from them in 2,000 and have used it frequently for my potted plants. You take a small plant in a small pot growing in whatever, bark, rock, cocconut etc and when it needs a larger pot place it into a larger EMPTY pot. The roots will circle along the walls and eventually fill the empty space. When the plant grows over the edge of that pot, repeat the process with a slightly larger pot. Eventually you'll end up with a large plant growing in a honeycomb web of multiple pots without any growing media. The original media, even if it is 5 year old bark, never needs to be changed as it makes up such a small percentage of the total growing volume and can be safely ignored. It will deteriorate and wash away in time.

Never needs to be repotted, cannot be over watered and in my opinion is one of the best ways to grow potted plants. The photo shows a small Cattleya overgrowing it's seedling pot and now growing in a 4" square. I add large, 1 1/2" to 2" rock to add stability so it won't tip over. The rocks do not contribute to the growing needs of the plant. Eventually the roots will bind everything together.

Nick

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orchidnick

For the benefit of this post, I placed the plant into the next pot even tough it does not need it yet. Normally I would not do this until it grows over the edge but no harm done and I'll just leave it like that until it grows over this new edge. Then it will graduate into the next size round pot. Probably 2 years from now hopefully will have bloomed by then.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 3:58PM
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philpet

Thank you so much nick, a picture is worth a thousand words. Very informative. But can dens be grow this way too. VELLETA

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:21PM
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orchidnick

Hard cane Dendrobiums don't do well with me, I water way too much. Don't see any reason why they should not grow like this. They like to be root bound so each successive pot should be a small increase.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 4:30PM
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philpet

Ok thanks, and I thought I was the only one who loves to water :) LOL. They are in 4" pots so they have a long way to go but I will try and see eventually. I told my self this morning " Veleta if you go anywhere near your dens with a watering can before seven or eight days time I am gonna beat the daylight out of you". Lol let hope I scare myself enough to comply. Thank very much again for explaining so even a thick head like me can understand. VELLETA.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 5:07PM
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orchidnick

Too much love will kill them every time.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 5:26PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Velleta, I think you have missed the point I was trying to make about the hard-cane Dendrobiums. The advice for tropical places is water frequently but the plants must dry by nightfall. In other words mount, use small pots, use an arid mixture and so on.
NO water for seven or eight days doesn't sound like a good
idea. There are some nice hardcane pics. over on the gallery posted over on the gallery by Blondy27 who lives somewhere near you. Why not ask her what she does.
Different climates, different growing advice.

This post was edited by arthurm on Fri, Oct 18, 13 at 1:20

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 7:19PM
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orchidnick

I have never done well with hard cane Dendrobiums and neither have the other members of my society. Very seldom do we see one of these on our display table.They love Hawaii, not SOCAL. Cattleyas on the other hand do. Here is a picture of a huge Cattleya deckeri with probably 50 leaves and 10 flower pods in the making.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 7:25PM
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orchidnick

The reason I showed it it is the result of the 'Pot in a Pot' technique. Got it 13 years ago as a seedling and if one would cut the plant down the middle, you would see a honeycomb of 6 different pots. 2 1/2", 3", 4" squares. 5", 6" and 8" round pots complete the Russian doll set up. It's completely filling the last one so is due to move up after it finishes blooming.

nick

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 7:30PM
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philpet

Arthurm, I did not miss your point, what has happen is I got such SEVERE root rot that the dens I have left are really small with little to no root system so if I water more often I am afraid they will rot worst, I plan to mist often but water throughly less often until the develope better root system. As I said I transplanted what servived to 4" pots wit stones as their only medium. Stones does not hold water so less chance of overwatering. But when they get going hopefully then I can develope a proper watering schdule. Thanks again and I am sorry you misunderstood my reply. NICK instant wow factor, really beautiful. I will try to contact blondy 27 as you sugested. VELLETA

    Bookmark   October 17, 2013 at 8:46PM
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westoh Z6

Cool Nick, but a question?

I have a fairly large gaskelliana alba that is in a 5" plastic pot currently with bark based media. It is overflowing the edges of the pot all around and I've put it in a 6" clay pot for stability. It needs to be "repotted" and I've been considering splitting it (probably has 15-20 p-bulbs currently), but after reading your no-media threads, I'm considering leaving it in the 6" clay pot.
My question: Do you think I should try and remove the bark media or leave things as they are (5" with media in 6" non-media clay pot) and just let things go?

Thanks,

Bob

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 7:04AM
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orchidnick

Before it attaches to the larger pot, I'd shake out at least some of the bark and after that let it do it's own thing. Keep an eye on it and if it shows signs of central deterioration you can always replace the old bark in the future if you have to. I suspect that it will live happily on the external roots.

I have a large Blc Daffodil that was last repotted in 1988. The owner lost interest and gave it to me in 2,000 with his apology for neglecting it. I never repotted it, it seemed perfectly happy living outside the pot. It is in a 6" hanging pot and now measures about 2' x 1 1/2'. The bark in the pot is 25 years old and probably a tad deteriorated. Actually I think it turned to powder and is long gone, washed out with the watering.

It would probably be bigger but it is my favorite victim and yields a few divisions every year when societies bug me for plant donations for their annual raffles. It and a few others have to sacrifice on a yearly basis because I'm not that crazy about their flowers.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 8:52AM
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blondy27

hi everyone what I do is put the den in a clay pots with stone and charcoal when the pot gets to small I break up the one with the plant take off as much as I can and place it in another pot I hope this helps

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 10:40AM
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philpet

Thanks Blondy, I was planning on asking you today. But here where I live you will be lucky to find a small plastic pot, not to mention a clay so my dens are all potted in plastic and I redid them with stones. Hardly any roots at all. This pic is the best lookin one at the moment the rest are much smaller and hardly any roots I also added a few pieces of charcoal and put extra holes for drainage, I hope they make it. VELLETA

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 10:54AM
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blondy27

they will love that and water every day the roots will come

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 11:44AM
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blondy27

this is one pot in pot

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 1:24PM
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blondy27

in plastic pot and doing fine

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 1:27PM
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philpet

Thanks again blondy, at least now I know they have the correct media, so now I will just be patient, water and fertilize correctly and enjoy them. Yours look really healthy. We learn from our mistakes so now I know dens like stones. Lol. VELLETA

    Bookmark   October 18, 2013 at 3:52PM
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Greencurls(Z5)

I had two Catt hybrids with significant root damage so I placed them in small plastic net pots with bark. For stability I put the net pots into a slightly larger clay pot. By the end of the summer the roots started filling the space between the two pots. It was amazing. I decided right then that I was never going to repot those catts again. They have been going like that for over two years. Next spring I will just place them into large pots and let them do their thing.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 7:24AM
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philpet

Wow it seems to me they do better growing with no media, I have a few catts and I am planning to implement this with them also my dens( my difficult friends). Lol. VELLETA.

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 9:12AM
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orchidnick

The only problem is that you need to water them exactly as if they were in bark. Namely water and then water again when they go dry. In bark that takes a week. When a plant is tightly packed into several pots with roots filling most of the spaces, twice a week is fine but if there are a lot of empty spaces and everything can be bone dry in a day, it may be necessary to water 3 times a week which is what I usually do.

The large Catt I showed on the 9th post if fine with once a week but the small Catt in the very first picture needs 3 times a week.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 19, 2013 at 10:44AM
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westoh Z6

Thanks Nick,

Knocked "some" of the loose media off yesterday and just stuck it in the 6" clay pot and watered heavily. Placed in filtered southwest light for the next few months. Media was pretty much seized up by the roots, so I didn't disturb them too much, just removed what media came loose easily.

Bob

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 6:54AM
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orchid126(z6, NJ)

Philpet, you might consider watering with some liquid seaweed. Plants should respond with more roots as it is loaded with micronutrients. Seaweed can grow as much as a foot a day.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 4:40PM
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philpet

Wow, thanks my only problem will be to source it. Here our garden centers are very limited with plant supplies and I often wonder why sell plants if you don't provide what they need to survive but its obvious they don't care if they servive or not plus the more plant that die the more they will sell (sales strategy). Thanks to everyone for your sugessions and recommendations and its good to know someone can come here and get the help they need. VELLETA

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:17PM
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orchidnick

Tthis concept works really well when you start with a small seedling in a 2" to 2 1/2" pot. When I do it with adult plants, I usually add a few large rocks to the pot. Keep a close eye on the plant, it's a major transition for it. Sine it's late in the season, you probably don't want to water too much, 3 times a week is probably good.

Good luck, Nick

    Bookmark   October 21, 2013 at 7:20PM
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orchidnick

The Cattleya I showed earlier finally fully opened up. (not quite, 6 more to go) For a plant that has no bark, moss, coconut or anything else, it's doing pretty well. I wish It would bloom earlier in the year so I could take it to our fall show for the Orchids 101 talk.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 5:38PM
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orchidnick

Viewed from the top. Of course, as was pointed out earlier, this does not prove anything other than that this plant likes my climate conditions since it's growing in the back yard. I don't have photos of all the ones that died under similar conditions.

Nick

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 5:42PM
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vtandrea

I've been following this discussion with interest, but have concluded that since it means probably needing to water the 'chids 3 times a week (or more), the method works best for those with a greenhouse who can spray the plants and not worry about watering the floor! I water twice a week for most of my orchids (about 40 in all) and it's a big time investment to take them from the sunroom to the kitchen and back again, not to mention taking the time to spray with Physan one of those 2 times.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 6:07PM
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philpet

Nick all I can say is wowwwwwww, really very beautiful. I hope one day one of my catts will look half as good as yours. :). I plan on doing all my catts that way, I don't have a problem with watering often I really enjoy spending my time on my plants, plus I grow vandas planted in stones and charcoal and I water everyday. So even three times per week is fine. Thanks for shearing your beautiful plant pic with us.VELLETA.

    Bookmark   October 26, 2013 at 9:47PM
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vtandrea

Nick, I picked up some sort of oncidium a couple days ago, NOID of course and half price. It has many pseudobulbs, looks very healthy. If I've read all the above carefully, I should just put this in its plastic pot inside another pot. Should it be clay, or does this matter? It has roots going all over the place, hanging over its pot edge. This is just an experiment. Living in Vermont, orchids make their own rules.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 2:41PM
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westoh Z6

My experience says to remove it from the existing plastic pot if possible. Use a clay pot if possible also, but plastic should be OK.

My gaskelliana alba is doing great this way, hardly skipped a beat when I switched to this method from a 5" plastic pot in October.

Good luck,

Bob

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:51PM
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orchidnick

I would keep the inside roots in a similar sized pot with or without fresh bark. All the roots outside I consider a plus as the plant has become independent of the pot. I would encourage that. You can place it in a larger empty pot for stability, any pot your choosing, does not really matter as it's only there for support.

Nick

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 3:57PM
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allymarie(zone 10, So. Fl.)

This concept should also work for over grown orchids in wooden baskets.I have an orchid that has out grown its basket and is impossible to remove
without killing the orchid.I'll place it in a bigger basket and see what happens.

Allymarie

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 7:43PM
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orchidnick

Or do absolutely nothing, Stand back and let it do it's thing.

Nick

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 8:07PM
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orchidnick

I assumed it was hanging, in which case letting it over grow will work. Putting the whole thing in a bigger basket will also work just fine.

Nick

    Bookmark   March 4, 2014 at 9:43PM
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vtandrea

When I first started "collecting" orchids, I read books which emphasized repotting when orchids were producing new pseudobulbs, roots, etc. That led me to put quite a few into pots that probably didn't make them happy. One oncidium, "McKenzie Mountain", hasn't put out spikes until this year which is 4 years after I bought it! Maybe the orchid writers need to revise?

    Bookmark   March 5, 2014 at 9:34AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

I love this thread. Great stuff for someone new to orchids!

Nick, you are so good at how-tos... would you consider putting together a post on how to pot up and anchor/secure a tall, bare-rooted orchid? (You might know how I got one...) It's a challenge for someone new to orchids... don't want to bury the roots... "plant on, not in the medium" (see? I've been listening)... but it wants to fall over when you just set it on top...

HELP!

Carol

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:39AM
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shavedmonkey (Harvey in South Fl.)Z10b

I start most plants in a clay pot in a hanging basket. Most will overcome the basket. No need to take action. But when one of the wires rusts through or a corner of the wooden basket rots, the next step is basket in a basket. But what if you already done that, what is next?

I have a very large brassavola little stars that I'm not sure what to do. Divide it or let it get bigger. I know I have to break it up. It is very close to too big to handle. So I guess it is time. That is my motivation to divide, too big to handle. Otherwise I let them grow...

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 12:51PM
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allymarie(zone 10, So. Fl.)

That overgrown basket I mentioned above has actually rotted.I tried taking off a piece of the orchid and the basket came apart.I didn't have any problem taking the orchid apart because the wood just crumbled.Ants was even living in the basket.After cleaning up the orchid I was able to get 5 pieces but they were not very healthy looking.They look dehydrated .There is some new root growth so that's a plus.You never know what's going on inside a pot or basket until you take the plant apart.

Allymarie

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:29PM
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allymarie(zone 10, So. Fl.)

This is the best piece it seems.

Allymarie

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 2:31PM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Sometimes all the growth eyes on bits like the LHS of the pic. look dead, but when you pot them up pleasant surprises happen.
I have a lot of Cattleyas and like the cutting the rhizome in situ method so that I have started divisions when I repot the following season.
I throw those daggy end bits away but that is because I have run out of room.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:27PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Urban dictionary: daggy - see link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Urban dictionary: daggy

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 9:56PM
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orchidnick

Carol, another photo that shows the concept is the last picture on 'The Floof Club' thread on the gallery forum. Basically I rely on 1 1/2" to 2" rocks wedged in strategic places to keep the pots and the plants in position. Also gives substance to the whole thing so it does not get blown over during watering.

Nick

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:48AM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Thanks for the pointer to the Floof Club thread. Just what I needed - another orchid forum to read! Yay! I've put a link below for anyone else playing along at home. :)

Has anyone else (maybe everyone else?) figured out Arthur's LHS acronym? Dang, we both speak English.... but not the same English...

Carol

Here is a link that might be useful: The Floof Club.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 9:39AM
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arthurm(Sydney, NSW AUST)

Sorry, when in Rome etc. How about scraggy?

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 1:29PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Hi Arthur, you make me smile. :)

"Scraggy" I know: weak, thin, scrawny, lean, long

But "LHS", I cannot figure out nor Google out:
Loyalty Honor and Success?
Left-Hand Side?
Let's Have Sex? (this is, by far, the definition that the internet would have me accept)
Load Handling System?
Lung Health Study?
Liquid Handling System?
Latin Hypercube Sampling?
Left Hemisphere Stroke?
Latent Heat Storage?
Local Hobby Store?
Life Happiness Scale?

And those are just the ones that seemed more likely. There are also about a thousand L______ high schools. Go LHS! So you can see, I'm going to need your help. TYVM.

Carol in Jacksonville

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:41PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Answered my own question, didn't I. Only took two days and a couple hours of research. :(

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 2:49PM
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orchidnick

I think you started off on the wrong foot Carol. You forgot that these guys down there are upside down, so it becomes SHL.

Sex, loud & hot?

I'm open to other suggestions.

Nick

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 6:49PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Yes, please.

Oh, you were suggesting it for the acronym. I can't improve upon that.

Anyway, joke's on me. I'm nothing if not persistent.

Carol

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 9:47PM
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lauraeli_

*tries to think of witty way to join conversation...and fails*

    Bookmark   May 27, 2014 at 4:56PM
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westoh Z6

I kind of feel like a voyeur reading the last few posts in this thread :)

If things are upside down, down under, wouldn't it be RHS? That's where those daggy bits go when you flip the pic. upside down.

Bob

    Bookmark   May 28, 2014 at 6:40AM
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