Faced with a sea of choices, if you select the wrong pot, you can waste money, time and even damage your plants. Obviously colour, shape, size and ornamental value are a major consideration when making your choice. But they are not the only reasons you should be considering. There are three other important features to consider when choosing containers: Drainage, Porosity and Weight.
- Drainage – whichever container you select, it must have adequate drainage holes. Healthy plants not only need room to grow, but also adequate oxygen for the roots. Excess water must be able to escape or plants will drown.
- Porosity – porous containers such as those made from unglazed terracotta or clay, timber, paper pulp and other natural materials allow moisture and air to move through them. The key benefits with materials that ‘breathe’ is this allows air to circulate around plant roots and as the moisture evaporates out the side of the pot it cools the soil and helps draw excess water and prevents rotting. The down side is these containers dry out more quickly and so does the potting mix so they need watering more frequently.
- Weight – moist soil gets very heavy and if you choose a heavy container, this will make it harder to move it around. It’s advisable to consider the total weight (soil + pot + plants + water) of each container. This is really important if you are gardening on a balcony or deck. You may need to consult an engineer to find out if the structural capacity can handle the additional weight. If mobility and changing the look of your garden on a regular basis is an important consideration, select containers made from lightweight materials or put them on castors before you plant them out. However, if you want stability in a windy or exposed position, then a heavy container may be a more suitable choice for top-heavy or tall plants.