“Why doesn’t this pot have drain holes?” is a question we hear quite often. Modern indoor plant containers are being designed without drainage holes and are best used by dropping in a plastic liner or potted plant rather than being planted directly into.
Tropical plants range in size from adorable 2-inch succulents to majestically tall palm trees, but most growers tend to use a standard series of plastic containers that are 4-, 6-, 8-inch, or more in diameter. When we take a new plant home, we naturally want to give it a more decorative container, and there are options to compliment virtually any style. Considering that many modern containers lack drainage holes, keeping the plant in its plastic pot is strongly encouraged; it is easy and convenient to just slip it into something decorative. In addition to finding the perfect shape, color, or material for your container, here are a few other things to consider from the plant’s point of view.
Using this drop-in technique creates a cleaner look by eliminating the need for a drainage saucer underneath the pot, while the plant in its plastic liner can easily be removed for watering and replaced once it has been allowed to drain. If the plant is too large to lift from the decorative container, be sure to occasionally remove water that has drained out by sucking it up with a turkey baster or towel. While getting to know your new plant’s watering needs, it is also helpful to use the light weight of the plastic pot to feel how much water is left in the soil; the heavier the plant, the wetter the soil is likely to be. Occasionally, it can be a challenge to find the ideal size container for a plant, but various materials such as recycled styrofoam chunks or other water-resistant packaging components can be repurposed as a prop or used to support the inside pot if it is too small. A decorative layer of moss on top can provide the perfect disguise to make the container appear planted and hide the inner plastic layer.
Most tropical plants prefer to be somewhat root-bound and can thrive in modestly-sized containers; re-potting should only increase container size by about two inches at a time and can be done every 2 to 4 years during the active growing season (March through September). A very large decorative container can have a smaller grower’s pot inside to help keep the plant healthy and continue to hold larger containers as the plant increases in size. Potting soil can be refreshed every few years by replanting into the same container after removing most of the old soil and replacing it; this can be done when plants have reached desired size or to slow growth as they mature without increasing container size.
Indoor gardening with tropical plants continues to gain popularity and is a fun and easy way to incorporate nature into our daily lives. As the seasons change and winter approaches, we spend more time indoors; incorporating houseplants into home décor adds stylish color and vibrancy while also improving air quality and naturally lifting moods. Houseplants make perfect gifts and offer a unique way to show gratitude to a teacher, give thanks to a host or hostess, or generally brighten someone’s day.
Keep in mind that winter temperatures can be a shock for most tropical plants, and transporting them during extreme weather should be done quickly and with some precautions. Temperatures below 50 degrees can be damaging to new foliage and exposure to cold can kill a tropical plant in as little as an hour.
- Cover or wrap plants; enclose in a paper bag or tall box, wrap in tissue paper, or cover with plastic before leaving the store to insulate from cold
- In extreme cold, warm up the car before putting the plant inside
- Always transport plants in the passenger area of the car rather than in the trunk
- Avoid letting foliage touch cold windows
- Take plants directly home; do not let them sit in a cold car while you run other errands!
If you have your eye on a large plant or don’t feel confident in transporting it yourself, our garden centers offer home delivery—just ask for details!