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highalttransplant

Pot in a pot ... anyone have one of these planters?

highalttransplant
15 years ago

I told my DH that I needed some more decorative pots for some houseplants that were still in the cheap plastics ones they came in. It's a pet peave of mine, I just think it looks... well, cheap. Anyway, he came home with three pots that look like glazed pottery, but they have an unglazed ceramic cylinder? that fits down inside. The salesperson told him you can put the plant in the cylinder part and when you water it, the excess water will drain through it to the other pot. Or you can put water in the bottom pot and it will soak through like a self watering pot.

Does anyone have any experience with these? What is the best way to use it? Do I need to post a photo, or does my description make sense?

Comments (17)

  • gabro14
    15 years ago

    Yes, this is a self-watering pot. It's usually used by putting water in the outer pot and letting the inner pot (that's holding the plant) soak up the water as it needs it. I think the decision to use it depends on what plants you have. I heard they were good for African Violets (but I have no experience with those). Some plants don't like to be constantly moist, so I don't think they would do well in a self-watering pot. It just depends on what the plant's needs are. Figure out which ones like to be constantly moist...or maybe list the plants you wish to repot and see which ones other members think you should plant in those pots. Hope that was of some help :-)
    Gabi

  • justaguy2
    15 years ago

    While I have not used the exact pots you are describing, it is a fairly commonly used concept.

    Hydroculture often makes use of the pot in a pot as do various self watering set ups.

    Does the inside cylinder have any openings for drainage or is the idea the excess water will escape via the pores in the clay?

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  • highalttransplant
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    No drain holes. I think the idea is that water will escape through the pores in the clay.

    I don't have any plants that want constant moisture, but there is a gap between the bottom of the cylinder and the bottom of the outer pot. Could I just water from the top like I normally do my plants, and use it for any of my plants?

  • pirate_girl
    15 years ago

    It depends entirely on what kind of plants you have & is definately NOT for succulents (like abt yr. Kalanchoe I was answering on another thread).

    Gabi's suggestion is a good one; if you name the plants you have, we MAY be able to suggest which might be OK for this type pot.

    Personally, I don't use any self-watering pots & I do have a few plants that want constant moisture. I have a few AVs, but I don't give mine contant moisture.

  • justaguy2
    15 years ago

    Could I just water from the top like I normally do my plants, and use it for any of my plants?

    I am sure you could, but it sounds like it would be comparable to growing a plant in an unglazed terra cotta container without drainage holes.

    As such I wouldn't be terribly confident I could water appropriately in the winter when plants typically don't want as much water and are prone to rot.

    What I think would be neat though is drilling a hole in the bottom of the inner pot (you need a special drill bit available at any hardware store) You could then use a wick in the bottom of the inner container to wick water out when you wanted to speed up drainage and use the wick to 'self water' the container when you wanted higher moisture or to lengthen the watering interval during a vacation by filling up the outer pot.

  • highalttransplant
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Actually, the Kalanchoes and a Begonia ARE the plants I had planned on using them for. The only other plant I have that is the right size for these new containers is an English ivy.

    I was hoping if I didn't fill the bottom pot with water, I could top water the insert, and maybe pour out any water that drains into the bottom, so it wouldn't be sitting in water constantly.

    My DH will be disappointed if I don't use them! I guess that gives me an excuse to buy more plants : ) So what type of plant CAN be grown in this type of planter?

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    15 years ago

    If excess water does actually drip through the pores in the clay, will you please report back? Can't wrap my head around that concept!

  • justaguy2
    15 years ago

    So what type of plant CAN be grown in this type of planter?

    Well I am not the worlds foremost authority on anything so maybe someone will come along and provide a few plants that may do well, but the only plant I can think of is 'Lucky Bamboo' and I really don't know that it will do well with no drainage holes if in a potting mix.

    If in water or in inert media in hydroculture they do fine, but the instant you add organic matter (like peat or bark) you introduce a very high liklihood for rot under constantly moist conditions. Not to mention fungas knats by the swarmfull.

    Unless someone comes along with more knowledgeable advice than I can offer I strongly encourage you to thank your husband for the containers and request he go to the hardware store and get a drill bit for drilling a drainage hole in the inner pot. Then you can grow most anything in them.

    Or just drill them yourself if you are so inclined. Bottom line is a drainage hole makes life much easier for you and the plants.

  • highalttransplant
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Okay, here is a picture of one of the pots, and one of the liner too.

    I decided to test this concept out. So I took the liner out and filled it with water, then placed it back inside the outer pot. After 30 minutes, I have about a teaspoon of water in the outer pot. So rhizo, yes it does actually drip through the pores!

    Justaguy2: Do you still think it needs a drain hole?

    {{gwi:69541}}

    {{gwi:69542}}

    You can't really see it in the picture, but the liner actually has beads of water on the outside.

  • gabro14
    15 years ago

    I do have one of these, and it is true that a drainage hole would be much easier. But if you don't want to drill a hole I think you can get away with watering from the top, and making sure there isn't a buildup of water in the outer pot after watering. But if you're putting succulents in there (which I wouldn't recommend, but who am I to speak b/c I have succulents in mine! I just water VERY carefully from the top), be careful and stop watering when the outside of the inner pot starts to feel wet (at least during the winter).

    Typically with self-watering pots, the inner pot is very low fired to make it more absorbent, so it is not exactly like a typical terra cotta pot. The inner pot is also much "thinner" and "lighter" than a typical clay pot.

    Rhizo, I see how it can be a weird concept. When I water, the water doesn't actually "drip" out of the inner pot, but the pot gets very wet to the touch. It kind of absorbs through the pot in the reverse way. If I touch the outside of the inner pot after a thorough watering, my fingers are actually wet. So I'm not sure if you really gave it a THOROUGH watering (which I haven't done yet, out of fear), whether or not you'd see water at the bottom of the outer pot. I guess either I or Highalttransplant will have to report back to you. But it's definitely not the greatest pot for drainage I admit.
    Gabi

  • gabro14
    15 years ago

    Just saw your picture. I guess you posted at the same time I was writing mine. So I guess you did prove the "drip theory". I still think succulents would do better with a drainage hole (I should take my own advice, but I loved the pots too and my succs look great in them!), but if you do plant them in these pots, just make sure you empty out that excess water...and maybe keep the inner pot separate from the outer pot for a few hours just to allow it to breathe a little, if that makes sense.
    Gabi

  • justaguy2
    15 years ago

    Justaguy2: Do you still think it needs a drain hole?

    No, I don't think the pot *needs* a drainage hole, I just think it will be *much* easier to grow a plant if there is one.

    The inner pot appears to drain excess water reasonably well, but that is a test with an empty pot and water. Do the test again with a peat or bark based potting mix and I think you will find the pot doesn't drain water as readily. The mix will hold a lot of water and when your plants are 'resting' and have reduced water needs rot and fungus knats will be a potential problem.

    The way I look at it is this: A drainage hole makes your life easier. You don't have to be as knowledgeable about and as attentive to a particular plant's watering needs with one as you do without one.

    You most certainly can grow any plant, including the most root rot prone succulents in a pot without drainage holes, it is simply that you as a grower have to have more knowledge, experience and attentiveness to avoid the rot and pests.

    I, personally, would drill a drainage hole, but you know what? I don't grow plants for the end result, I grow them for the process and the process involves doing a lot of things 'the wrong way'.

    If you want to give them a try with drainage holes you have nothing to lose beyond a few dollars in plants. Big deal.

    Have fun and enjoy the process. And give hubby a hug for being considerate and thinking of you.

  • rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7
    15 years ago

    Hear hear! Go for it! They're certainly nice looking containers! Since those liners are soooo porous, it won't be as 'challenging' as it could be to grow a healthy plant without the drainage holes.

    I have a 12 year-old hoya that is growing in a very porous, no-holes-in-it clay container as we speak! It's done so well over the years that I refuse to change the container, even though I repot (and root prune) every year or so!

  • highalttransplant
    Original Author
    15 years ago

    Thanks to everyone for the input, and thank you Justaguy2 for the reminder to appreciate my husband when he does something sweet.

    I'm with you Gabi, I think my Kalanchoes will look great in them, but I want them to be healthy too.

    BTW, just an update on my little experiment. There was about 3 Tbsn of water in the bottom after a couple of hours.

    So, how soon can I repot my houseplants? I know one poster said wait until spring. Are we talking first day of.. as in March, or are we talking last frost, which would be May for me? These ARE indoor plants, though I am considering putting the Kalanchoes outside this summer ... if I can find a safe place for them. The north and east sides of the house, where there is the most shade, are also areas where there will be foot traffic. We are talking small children traffic, if you know what I mean.

  • gabro14
    15 years ago

    Repot NOW!! That's my the little impatient devil on my shoulder talking, so take that with a grain of salt.

    I repot ANY type of plant whenever I want, regardless of season. I recently posted a thread about this in the hoya forum, and it seems a lot of people agree.

    So I really think that you can repot, as long as you haven't been fussing with the plant continuously. In other words, if you've repotted it lately, I'm not so sure it's a good idea to disturb the roots again. But if the plants are in their original pots from the store, go ahead and repot! First and foremost, you want to get it out of the soil if it's not a fast draining mix. And second, you said you don't like the look of the 'cheap' plastic pots (I don't blame you)...so who would want to wait to put them in those beautiful pots! I think your hubbie should get some extra points...he's a good boy with good taste - can't get any better than that :-)

    Justaguy2...I really like your last post. You explained that so well, and I couldn't agree with you more.

    Gabi

  • pirate_girl
    15 years ago

    I'm one of the folks who keep saying wait 'til Spring, like April. You sound like you're new at this, you're learning mixes, & may not have a handle on fast draining mixes.

    Gabi, those Hoya folks who repot any time of the yr. are experienced growers who know their mixes & often make their own; it's a diff. thing altogther than advising a newcomer.

    I predict if you put yr. Kalanchoe in this pot, you'll end up w/ a very sorry pile of wet & rotting mush, it won't be pretty & you'll be sad & wish you hadn't.

    My two cents.

  • gabro14
    15 years ago

    Highalttransplant,
    Where did you buy your plants from? I don't know whether you're experienced or not, but either way I would've answered the same way. Maybe I'd change it around to say...only repot if the plants are in questionable soil. If the soil is not like mud and seems pretty "sandy", then I agree with PG...maybe leave it alone until Spring. But if the soil seems to hold a lot of moisture and doesn't drain quickly, I'd get some cactus and succulent soil, and a bag of perlite, and mix your soil from that. PG had a good ratio, but I forget what it is...maybe do 2 parts cactus/succ soil to 1 part perlite?

    I can tell you REALLY want to put the plants in those pots. I can't blame you...those pretty pots wouldn't be sitting around empty in my house for too long. If the soil is well draining, can you keep the plants in their plastic containers and then just put them inside the self-watering pots? That way you don't have to worry about repotting just yet. I'd stick some rocks/pebbles on the bottom of the pot to give the plastic pot height if it needs it. And when you water, take the plastic pot out of the pot so it gets better drainage.

    We all have different opinions of course...you just have to take it all in and decide what's best for you!
    Gabi

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