plastic planters in full sun?

mdgirl09(7MD)March 22, 2013

This year I am hoping to grow some vegetables and flowers on my sunny deck (more than 8-10 hours of sun) in containers. Terracotta planters seem to be very pricey. It looks like the cheaper option is plastic or resin ones.

Would the heat from the plastic/resin hurt the plants' roots? Or is there a way to keep the planters cool?

The veggies Im planning to grow are eggplant, squash, peppers, tomatoes and okra. Flowers: zinnia, portulaca and calibrachoa.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Choose light colored OPAQUE containers and/or shade them (the containers) from the south and west sun. You can double pot & fill the space between the pots with something absorbent (bark, gravel ....) that you can wet down in the morning so it will offer some cooling as the water evaporates. Partially burying your pots in the soil if possible is very helpful, too.


    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 4:29PM
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I love the double pot idea. Burying them partially may not work since this is on a deck.
Thanks so much for your insight.

    Bookmark   March 22, 2013 at 6:19PM
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I use white coloured plastic wastepaper and and small garbage bins that I buy from $2 shops. Just drill drainage holes. They stand up to the sun for years.
Another idea is to wrap aluminium foil around the pot to reflect heat ( the look may not appeal to all). Remove in winter.
Also on concrete surfaces raise the pot slightly to prevent heat conduction from concrete to pot.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 1:32AM
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Thanks Alan, I will look out for large bins - 5 gal - at the local stores. I like the idea of raising them slightly too.

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 7:57AM
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wndy_gardenweb(USDA z4b)

I wish I could send you some terra cotta pots! I found a store here that sells them for a pretty good price (less than the big box chains actually!) ...about the same price for plastic pots I bought at Target last year. They even have these adorable 1" terra cotta pots... not sure what would fit in that though! I don't use terra cotta on account of its weight--but we may get a few this year since my significant other can handle them just fine. I might buy some small terra cottas to use for cuttings though...

Last year I grew tomatoes and other veggies a the deck in North Dakota--west-facing, but it got a fair amount of south sun. The tomatoes did really well! They held up great in a move to MN, tolerated the almost-complete shade they had after the move, and kept ripening a bit when I put them in the garage when winter came in. Crazy plants.

Anyhow, I bought my pots at HD.. they were plastic, one was red, one was light green... I think that helped a bit, not having black pots. I think I used a 14" or 16" pot? It was huge, and even being plastic, I had trouble moving it. I would water in the morning, come back from work, and if it was a hot day, the plant would be kinda wilty. Wish I thought to temp the soil... Despite all this, we still had great tomatoes. Wonder how much more we would have had, had we done the double pot or something to regulate soil temp....

    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 1:20PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi Mdgirl,

I double pot my Plumeria on my deck in the heat of the summer here in VA. If they are sitting on the ground I " plunge " the pots halfway in the ground to protect the roots . I'm out working right now, but I will post some pics later tonight for you to see.

Take care,


    Bookmark   March 23, 2013 at 8:21PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Here are a few pictures of how I like to put my containers in another container during the heat of the summer. I like to use pine mulch in between the containers and it seems to tolerate the triple digit temps.

A few more!

Take care,


Good night everyone!


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 2:11AM
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Beautiful plants, pictures and planters, Laura! Thank you! These flowers took me back to my childhood school in India, where there was a huge yellow-white frangipani tree... we would pick up flowers that had fallen off and even those would be fragrant.

What sort of potting soil should I use? Could you all please share what you have in your outdoor containers?
Would Al's mix be suitable for veggies and flowers?

thanks so so much!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:13AM
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it sounds like you had a great tomato crop! would you also please share what sort of soil you used? Thanks!

last year i put compost (yup, thats all) in some containers and tried to grow a few plants on my deck. also i planted them in plastic planters that had a saucer attached. suffices to say that even in triple digit heat i think their roots were waterlogged.

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 9:36AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I just wanted to recognize how happy Laura's plants look before I say I'm a big fan of the 5:1:1 and the gritty mix. ;-)

I've been growing primarily veggies & mixed display containers for the deck & gardens for more than 20 years in the 5:1:1 mix. I've posted tons of pictures on the forum - here's a link to one thread with many pics of plants in the 5:1:1 mix (below).

Here is a link that might be useful: Lots of pics here - mine & others ....

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 11:57AM
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Thank you for replying. I read your very educational thread on how and why you formulated your gritty mix. Your plants look AMAZING as well! How do you fertilize the ones in the container that have your mix?

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:44PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

My growing habits are essentially the same for everything I grow. Even though the soils are made from a different list of ingredients, they are nearly the same, structurally, and structure is the key to a good soil.

Because I use a soil that I can water copiously, I can fertilize frequently. I use Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 on virtually everything I grow, and fertilize often at a dosage lower than that suggested on the label.

See below for another long thread on fertilizing.


Here is a link that might be useful: More on fertilizing containerized plants if you click me!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 12:52PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone!

Hi Al! Thank you for the kind comments ! I really appreciate that! ;-). You have taught us how to take a plant that naturally wants to thrive and keep it growing to its full potential by giving it a proper growing environment by giving it a good aerated mix. Learning how to give our plants the proper watering needs and nutrition makes it fun to watch our plants thrive..
They grow, bloom and give us such gratification !

Always enjoy seeing your trees too!

Mdgirl. Thank you! Love to hear how my pictures can bring such wonderful memories from when you were a little girl in India! The fragrance from the Plumeria will always bring fond memories for all of us. That is why I love them so much!

I make my own soil like Al.. All of my trees plants are in the Grutty mix or the 5-1-1. They also only receive Foliage Pro and Pro TeKt when I fertilize.

Reading the threads that Al had posted will help you!

If you need any help, just ask!

Good luck !


    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 3:44PM
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wndy_gardenweb(USDA z4b)

mdgirl - well, I did have a great experience with tomatoes, but I think that's partially on account of the weather and the size of the pot I used... the soil was a standard potting mix--I wouldn't use it again actually (it had too much peat in it, so when the sun baked the top of the plant, the peat would be hydrophobic the next time I watered :(

Personally, I would try 5-1-1 I think, something that can retain enough moisture for 8-12 hours of sunshine while you're at work :-)

Laura, those plumerias are gorgeous!!

    Bookmark   March 24, 2013 at 10:18PM
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Disclaimer: this doesn't add anything of value to the OP's question (except to say I love 5-1-1...)

I just want to say that while I love Laura's plants, I am DROOLING over her property.

-wiping chin and getting depressed-

    Bookmark   March 26, 2013 at 11:46PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone!

Thank you wndy! I love Plumeria and I will admit that I am addicted!

Sugi... You are so nice to say that.. I love my yard and it takes a lot of work to keep it up with all of my plants and trees. But I do love the time in the yard and it gives me peace to just water and look at the growth of my Plumies!

Thank you!

have a wonderful Easter!


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 8:30PM
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mksmth zone 6b Tulsa Oklahoma(6b)

i started painting my black nursery pots with Krylon Fusion spray paint. It is made for plastic and works very good. I use the Tan or White and it seems to keep the pots much cooler


    Bookmark   April 1, 2013 at 2:09PM
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Laura - your plumerias are stunning! I have 4 and was just able to get one to bloom in Oct last year after having them for several years. Do you do anything special with them? What do you use for fertilizer? Thank you!


    Bookmark   May 12, 2013 at 10:54PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hi LIsa!!

Thank you for the kind comments!

I just love Plumeria.. some would say that i am addicted, i would agree!! ;-)

These beauties can take years to bloom, so it takes time to treat them the best that we can especially when we are far from the southern areas like TX, FL, CA. I live in Virginia and it can be difficult to get them to bloom here as well.

The best advice that i can give to you would be to use a fast draining mix ( I love the Gritty Mix), plenty of sunshine and warmth in the spring (bottom heat) and a good watering and fertilizing schedule. I like to use the Foliage Pro and Pro TeKt all summer. Some of my trees that i keep active during the winter, i will give FP at a reduced rate (1/4 strenght) and the dormant ones will receive water every month or so. During the growing season, i fertilize once a week as per the instructions on the bottle. They really like the all of the essential nutrients that are already in the FP, so i don;t have to add Ca and Mg to my solution like i did in the past. This makes it so much easier on me.. I like that!!

Good luck and please post some pics.. i would love to see your trees with or without blooms!!

Where do you live?

Have a great night, Lisa!!


    Bookmark   May 13, 2013 at 10:34PM
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