If transparent plastic containers don’t boast the aesthetics you’re hoping for, glass containers may be a reliable alternative for growing orchids. These offer the same benefits to orchids as clear plastic pots, with a few caveats, however.
Below, I discuss the merits of growing your orchids in glass containers and how you can ensure your plant stays healthy despite some of the shortcomings of this growing method.
Growing Orchids in Glass Containers
Whether you put orchids in glass pots or plastic ones, the rules are more or less the same — make sure the potting medium is well draining and don’t overwater your orchids.
Glass containers are at a disadvantage compared to plastic pots in that they don’t come with drainage holes at the bottom. Drilling drainage holes on the bottom of these containers can easily break the glass.
Another disadvantage of glass containers is that they’re heavier and they can make quite the mess if they’re accidentally dropped.
So, with these in mind, here’s how you should approach the issue of keeping your orchids in glass containers.
– Use shallow containers
I don’t recommend using tall vases for your orchids as they tend to create too much humidity, which can cause problems for your orchid. Unless you’re setting up a terrarium for a small orchid, use Pyrex style glass containers for larger orchids.
– Plant orchids so that roots are one inch above the bottom of the container
As I mentioned, glass containers are not fitted with drainage holes, so excess water can be a problem, unless you know to plant the orchid so that its roots don’t touch the bottom of the container.
Regardless of the potting medium you use, make sure that the roots are at least one inch above the bottom. As water pools to the bottom of the container, the roots should be higher so that they don’t sit in water.
– Use well-draining potting medium
Even though these containers will not let excess water to drain out, you should still use a potting medium that’s designed for the needs of orchids.
Before I plant my orchids in glass containers, I use small rocks at the bottom of the container. I rinse the rocks in water to remove dirt and debris. I then add sphagnum moss on top.
I put a good layer of it too as sphagnum moss is lightweight, and I want my orchid to be nestled in the medium. I put the orchid into the container and put some more sphagnum moss to cover the roots and make sure that the leaves sit above the edge of the jar. Water the orchid keeping the leaves dry.
You want the medium to be moist but remember that you don’t have any draining in these containers, so excess water will just pool at the bottom of the container.
Alternatively, you can also use clay pellets as a potting medium and create a semi-hydro growing medium for your orchid.
Growing Orchids in Water
Orchids can be grown in water too. Hydroponic systems to be more precise. These follow a rotating system where the orchid’s roots are kept in water for a few days, then they are aerated for a few days. This creates a habitat that’s very similar to the natural habitat of these plants.
A semi-hydroponic system can also work for your orchid. For these, you’re going to need clay pellets, Lightweight Expanded Clay Aggregate (LECA), which need to be soaked in water before being used as a potting medium.
LECA pellets hold water very well and will offer your orchid enough moisture to thrive. In a system like this, you only need to water your orchid every 2-3 weeks.
It takes time for orchids to get accustomed to a semi-hydro growing medium, so start your transition with a hardier orchid like the Phalaenopsis.
Growing Orchids in Potting Medium
Orchids don’t necessarily require a potting medium, after all they’re epiphytic plants that grow on the bark of trees and their roots aren’t planted into the ground.
The roots of orchids have evolved to absorb moisture from the humidity around them, so technically any potting medium that can offer the level of humidity and moisture needed will work for these orchids.
You can blend a number of organic materials that would offer aeration, drainage, and enough moisture retention to satisfy the needs of this plant including fir bark, perlite, sphagnum moss, charcoal, coconut husk chips, and even clay pellets.
How to Water Orchids in Glass Container?
The same recommendations apply regardless of the pot used for orchids — water only when the roots start to turn silvery and the potting medium feels slightly dry. Green roots mean your orchid is well hydrated.
In glass containers you can water deeply, allowing the orchid to soak in water for an hour, then empty the container of the water.
Depending on the potting medium you use, you will need to water more frequently or very infrequently. For example, clay pots will hold water for longer than sphagnum moss or bark.
In a semi-hydroponic system, you may only need to water every 2-3 weeks, while orchids planted in sphagnum moss or bark will require watering once or twice a week.
It’s going to take a bit of experimentation to figure out your orchid’s watering needs, but if you pay attention to the changes your orchid is undergoing, you will know exactly when to water and when to hold off watering.
Can You Keep Orchids on a Window Sill in Glass Jars?
As long as the orchid is not receiving direct light, it’s safe to keep it in a window sill even if the plant is in a glass container.
Exposing your orchid to direct sunlight, especially in a glass container is a bad idea, so if your windows are south-facing or west-facing, make sure to keep your orchid a few feet away from the window.
Glass containers can be a good alternative to clear plastic pots. You’ll need to change your watering regimen to adjust to the fact that your container doesn’t have drainage holes and you need to consider what type of potting medium you’re going to use.
That said, plastic containers are also a great way to keep your orchid happy if growing orchids in glass containers seems like too much work.