Don’t plant a houseplant directly into a decorative pot, plant it in a grow plant and place the grow pot inside the ornamental container.

Here is a basic houseplant tip that many people either don’t seem to know… or have forgotten. Don’t plant houseplants in a decorative pot; plant them in a plain old-fashioned grow pot, then slip the now potted plant into the decorative pot. This is called double potting.

Why is this important? Because most designer pots were created to look good, not really to grow plants in.

The Downside to Decorative

Surprisingly, many pots sold as flower pots have no drainage hole!

For one thing, many designer pots don’t have a drainage hole. Do not believe people who tell you can compensate for a lack of a drainage hole by filling the pot bottom with gravel or pot shards so excess water can drain there. Excess water will still stagnate in the bottom of the pot and threaten the roots with rot. It will eventually kill your plant, mark my word.

How will you ever get this plant of its pot… without breaking the plant or the pot, that is.

Designer pots that do have a drainage hole often have a rounded or uneven shape or some sort of constriction that will make it almost impossible to remove the plant in the future without pulling off half its roots. In total contrast, grow pots were designed so you can simply turn the pot upside and thump on it to release the plant’s roots.

And in those cases where the plant simply will not come out of a grow pot (and yes, that does happen), you can just cut it open to remove the plant or even smash it apart with a hammer: it had no great value, after all. Do you really want to smash your 99$ designer pot so you can get a $20 plant out?

Some designer pots crack readily as roots expand. Others are too heavy to move readily. Many were never designed to be in contact with soil and will be hard or impossible to clean when you do repot. And there are even a few that are toxic to plant roots. They may be decorative, but they weren’t designed to grow plants in!

Double Potting Using Cachepots

These pots with an awkward shape and no drainage hole would make terrible plant pots… but great cachepots!

Designer pots are best used as a “cachepot” (a French word meaning “pot hider”). Pot up your houseplant in a plain grow pot, then put the grow pot inside the decorative container of your choice. In other words, double pot the plant. This will give your plants the look you want while making their care simpler.

Also, if the plant doesn’t look as good as you thought in its decorative pot or if it is performing badly under your growing conditions, you can replace the plant with a better choice almost instantly if it’s in a grow pot.

Finally, even a designer pot with no drainage hole can at least catch excess water and can therefore be used as a saucer!20161003a


Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

3 comments on “Double Pot your Houseplants

  1. Pingback: Grow Your Own Coleus Tree – Laidback Gardener

  2. omg! why is no one talking about this…as an ill informed beginner I just replanted 14 plants directly into decorative pots! I watched about a dozen of youtube videos that focus only on pots with drainage in them already (mostly boring looking pots), and some even recommend drilling holes in decorative pots that have no drainage!!! It made me feel like I am missing something, why would they sell something that I cannot easily use! And also, okay I just spend 15 euros on a decorative pot that I love and now I have to make a hole in it and then put an ugly plate under it, WHAT!? Thank you for this post, I feel better now…got a lot of work to do however hahah, repotting all my plants hahah

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