Everything You Need to Know About Plant Pots
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Key Tip: If you’re not sure what pot to buy, get a classic unglazed clay pot.
Choosing the right pot is like building a frame for a home. Plants can basically grow in anything, but it’s better to play it safe and use pots specifically designed for plants.
Pots made for plants will generally have at least one hole for water drainage which is very important for letting excess water escape. Some decorative pots have no drainage hole, and are meant to just house, or cover up another pot with a drainage hole. You can take a chance and just put a plant directly into a pot without a drainage hole however do not put rocks at the bottom of the pot. Just fill it up with soil. This is widespread bad advice which does not work. Only putting soil allows excess water to wick back up to the surface and evaporate. When you add rocks, the water collects and is less able to evaporate. You never know how much excess water is down there.
Using a pot that is too big for your plant will hold too much moisture and cause rotting. A pot that is too small won’t hold enough water and will stunt growth if your watering habits are inconsistent.
To know if you need a bigger pot remove the plant from the current pot. If there are many roots that have basically taken the shape of the pot, wrapping around the bottom, it’s time to find a bigger planter. This is called a ‘rootbound’ plant. Another sign you need a bigger pot, is if the roots are growing out through the drainage holes.
How much bigger should the pot be?
If the plant needs a bigger pot, go up just a small amount. Generally a pot 1-2″ bigger than the previous pot works for the average sized planter (Let’s say anything in the 4″-12″ range). A very small pot, say 2.5″, can maybe move up to a 3″ pot. A 18″ pot could move up to 22″. Just as erring on watering your plants less to be safe is better than watering your plants more; erring on a smaller pot is better than erring on a larger pot. Erring on a smaller pot means there is less of a chance you over-water your plant. This is especially important for cacti and succulents, which are most sensitive to over-watering, and also like cramped spaces.
Some materials are porous which means that the excess water can evaporate quickly and air can flow to the roots easily. Porous pots are generally healthy for all plants, however you might opt for a less porous pot so you don’t have to water it as much. Plants that need drier soil will love porous pots, and is the safer option.
Here is a list of different kinds of pots and their features:
- Not porous anywhere the glaze is found
- Not porous
- Usually have multiple drainage holes which is a plus
- Not porous
- Often no drainage hole
- Good for plants that need humid environments if the walls are high or enclosed
- Not good for a plant that needs drier soil
- Great for housing air plants
- Usually porous unless heavily varnished
- Pine or douglas fir will rot out in 2-3 years, redwood or cedar will last longer
- Raw wood containers can be treated with a non-toxic water-based sealant to increase durability
- If lined with plastic, it will act like a plastic pot
- Often used to house orchids – Wooden orchid planter
A quick tip for large plants:
For a large plant that may need to be moved occasionally, you can house a plastic pot inside a nice heavy pot. The inner plastic pot will hold the plant and soil, therefore able to be removed from the outer, heavier pot. This way, the heavy pot and the heavy plant can be moved separately, making everything lighter.
Need a new pot? : “Our Favorite Planters on Amazon Right Now”