The Q&A Archives: pots

Question: what is better; a plastic pot or a clay pot

Answer: Study the advantages and disadvantages of the various possible containers and you can decide which one best suits your situation and your plant.

Clay pots come in many sizes and shapes. Most clay pots are sized so the width of their top edge is equal to the height of the pot. Some are taller. These are called long toms or rose pots. Others are short. They are called Azalea pots or bulb pans. You may see some intended for use as dish gardens. These are even shorter than bulb pans.

Advantages: The roots can "breathe" because air travels through the sides of the planters. Clay pots are heavy, making them less likely to tip over when using a large pot. Excess water can quickly evaporate through the sides of the pot (good if you tend to over-water). Clay pots look more natural than those made from other materials. Disadvantages: Clay can absorb water from the potting media if you don't soak the planters every other week or so. Clay planters dry out quickly making frequent watering necessary. Clay planters are fragile. Clay planters are expensive. Clay planters develop discoloration from alkaline water or from the salts in fertilizers. Clay planters develop moss or algae on their sides if kept in humid places.

Plastic can take many sizes and shapes. Plastic pots come in many colors, making it easier to match your color scheme. Some even mimic the old Italian urns and cement planters.

Advantages: Plastic containers come in all sizes and shapes. They hold moisture in because it doesn't absorb moisture from the media. Roots don't adhere to the sides of the pot making transplanting easier. Plastic containers are lightweight. They are virtually unbreakable except by force. Disadvantages: Plastic planters can hold too much water if you over-water. Plastic planters cannot be recycled easily. Dark color plastic planters heat up on hot days and cook the plant roots when sitting on unshaded south or west windowsills.

Hope this answers your question!

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