Want experienced opinons about double pots for AVs

Madison, AL

I would appreciate any opinions about the use of double pots for AVs. These are the pots that have a clay insert that rests in an outer pot. The outer pot is filled to the appropriate level and the inner pot (planted with an AV) rests in that outer pot. The theory is that water gradually seeps though the clay walls of the inner pot and keeps the AV moist without rotting it. I have not had much luck with this system although it sounds so good. If the theory is correct about water infusing though the clay walls, why doesn't this keep the roots too wet (and thereby suffocate)? Anybody have an experience, good or bad, with this system?

Madison, AL

After several years of puzzling over the question I posed for this thread, today I finally figured it out (I think). Perhaps you are not supposed to leave water in the outer pot all the time. When the plant needs water, fill the outer pot to the suggested level and lower in the inner pot. After the soil becomes correctly moist, pour out the extra water from the outer pot - that seems simple enough. I wonder why it took me so long to figure it out.

Madison, AL

Okay - I am back again, although I seem to be talking to myself. I have decided those ceramic double pots are simply not working as advertised. After sitting 24 hours in water, the dirt in the inner pot was still dry. So - time to change tactics. My DH took the inner pot and drilled a small hole in the middle of the bottom and 2 small holes in the sides. I replanted my AV and put this inner pot into the outer pot which now contained water. After sitting about an hour the soil is nice and moist. Then I poured out the excess water and put the inner pot containing the AV back into the outer pot which is functioning now as merely a decorative over pot. The walls of the inner pot are apparently just not porous enough to wick up the water efficiently as it is supposed to so. The newly drilled holes allow the water to enter the soil.

I have about 10 of these pots - both large and small - and now plan to convert them all to basically regular pots with the outer pots functioning as decorative holders. That way I will not have wasted the rather large amount of money I spent for these pots over the last 5 years. I am feeling pretty good about this solution. Now if only DH's drill bit holds out long enough to do all of them!

This forum seems rather quiet and it may be that no one will ever see this posting. But if someone should happen to have the same problem with double pots, maybe a search of DG will bring up this one and it may help them. I hope so.

Saco, ME

Hi Stillwood,

I had answered your question on the first post you posted to.
I never had good luck with those pots either :(
In fact they were death traps *lol*
Sounds like your plan just might work though :)

Good Luck!

(Lynn) Omaha, NE(Zone 5a)

I know a lot of people here use them,but no matter how much perlite I use my plants eventually rot.
Did you start the plants with damp soil? Also,sometimes a mild bit of dishwashing liquid will help wicking action to start.

Madison, AL

Kim - I did see your post the other day on the other thread and was amazed at the thought of hand watering 500 plants every other day. Good grief! You must really love those plants! I also found the double pots to be "death traps" for my AV. Apparently both you and Irabec have had the same experience I did. They never seemed to wick up the water and I had not heard about the tip of using dishwashing liquid to start it (Irabec's tip). I always ended up watering from the top since they were staying so dry and, of course, then they rotted as they could not drain.

We will see how this new approach of converting them to regular pots does - I really want to use them. They were not cheap and they are also pretty. Next I am going to order some new AVs from The Violet Barn and build my collection from there (I want to get some named varieties instead of just different colors from Lowe's). I will still keep my Paph orchids that I moved with me, but am going to go in a new direction for a while. I will let you know how it goes.

If you have any suggestions as to other sources than The Violet Barn, please let me know. Thanks for responding - Kim and Lynn.

Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

Using them as cache pots does work, of course. I used a lot of this type of pot when I had a big AV collection. I found a mix of 2 parts perlite and 1 part good potting mix (pro mix) worked well. As you discovered, if you let them dry out too much you have to water a bit from the top to re-start the wicking action.

Some varieties of AVs just hated these pots. Many others loved them. And yes, it does help to let the bottom of the pot go dry for a few days... more than a week, and you have to top water a little.

The pots themselves seem to vary also. I have a couple that I couldn't use for AVs because they were too porous and stayed soggy. i have some big ones that don't seem to wick much at all from the reservoir... I may drill them as you did, put perlite in the bottom, and add water until it comes up maybe an inch on the sides. They'd be nice for ferns, I think. (If the inner pot is dry on the outside, you can set it into the reservoir and remove carefully to see where the water line comes -- like an oil dipstick)

Saco, ME

I found that once I started growing AV's that it was inevitable that I set up a light stand and switched to growing in plastic nursery pots. I have just always found plastic more reliable for watering for some reason. I tend to over water so anything clay turns green and gets gross so I just keep it simple.

I really think your idea will work though :)

I do hand water everything but the number I hand water is probably around 200 which sounds like a lot but goes quickly as they are side by side on a light stand and I have a step stool for the top shelf and the other 300 are either sprouting tubers or seedlings which are in domes and don't need to be watered everyday.

I found these really cool plastic nursery pots at a salvage store where I live and I burned a hole in the bottom of each one. These are what I grow all of my plants in.

It's so cool how we each grow differently, in different environments and yet AV's seem to thrive everywhere :)

Good luck!

Thumbnail by KimsKreations1
Frederick, MD(Zone 6b)

I saw those pots on the other thread -- cute bright colors; good score!

I think AVs are just much tougher than most people give them credit for. I wrote an article several years ago about watering methods for AVs, "different strokes for different folks" or something like that, and the conclusion was similar -- there are lots of ways of growing AVs that work well!

Brookfield, CT

I have one primulina and one AV in this type of pot and they are doing well. I will say that I tend to be a neglectful waterer, so the comments about letting the inner pot dry out a bit before re-filling the outer pot are consistent with my experience.

Youngsville, LA

I just became a member so I could post in these forums. Regarding the DOUBLE POTS, I have years of POSITIVE experience with them. I've never had a plant rot from over watering. Instead some of mine that have grown quite large are in them 3 years. I fill the basin about 1/2 full so the top pot sits in about 1/2" of water. There's still 1/2 of the porous area out of water. Over 2 weeks the water is absorbed to even or below the bottom of the top pot. This must allow for balancing things because every 3 weeks I mix my water with a.v. food & refill the same amount of water & it last another 3 weeks. There's a lime mark now in the basin so it's easy to know where to fill to. I've gone a month before but with the water level not touching the top pots bottom at all by then, the top soil got quite dry to the touch & the plant looked a little dehydrated but bounced right back when I filled the basin 1/2 full again. I guess if you filled the bottom basin full so the whole porous part of the top pot is submerged it could water log the plant because there would be no air flow thru the porous part at all. That may be the problem. Try only filling it 1/2 way so the pot can breath on the top 1/2 of the porous area. I HOPE THIS HELPS SOMEONE! I will pay for postage for any pots you want to get rid of. That's how much I love them. Trudy

Madison, AL

Trudy - thank you for posting this information. I am inspired to try again. I will take one of my double pots and do exactly as you say. I have before filled them to the place where the manufacturer put a sticker saying fill line and I believe that is fairly deep. It never hurts to try again. I'll try to post results in a month of so. Thanks again.

Youngsville, LA

So glad you got the post. My pots are ceramic not the plastic. I get many for under $10 at Walmart & a local home depot type store. I always root leaves in water them put them to grow in the little white plastic mouth rinse cups I get at Dollar General 50 for $1. Then when 2" I mix match plastic cups & containers to make my own wick systems that work real well & only need water added in the reservoir once a week. Then when they get about 3" to 4" tall & around I invest in the ceramic pots & there they grow, mature & flower for years. I'd love to hear what brings you success with yours, Trudy

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