Polyurethan Foam Planters

anney(Georgia 8)March 28, 2006

Has anyone used polyurethane foam planters?

What are their real advantages? The ads say they're lightweight and holes can easily be drilled in them for drainage. Are they strong and sturdy?

They're very expensive in the ads I've seen, yet plastic products are among the cheapest of all products to produce, so I suspect someone is making a tidy profit from them.

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faltered(Hamburg NY Z5/6)

I'm not sure the exact type of planter I have. I know it's a foam of some type. I purchased mine at JoAnn's and then used a drill to make a few holes in the bottom. I bought about six of these last year and had them out all season. In fact, they're still out on the patio now.

They held up really well. My only complaint is that they're easy to damage. I was digging up some gladioli corms and accidentally cracked one of the pots. Granted, I was using a shovel against the side of the pot as leverage, so it was my fault. But otherwise, they worked out wonderfully.


    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 8:34AM
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anney(Georgia 8)

Maybe what you have are those polyurethane foam planters.

I looked up the foam itself on the internet and apparently there are at least three grades or strengths of it. Products made from the first two can be "dented" with a fingernail, though the highest grade was advertised to be very tough.

I'm not sure I've ever examined one. They sound like tough styrofoam to me, lightweight, drillable, don't heat up in the sun, etc. I was just curious about how they hold up. Sounds like the one you had could have been sturdier!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2006 at 1:14PM
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I've done a lot of research on polyurethane pots, as I'm trying to switch all my terra cotta pots to polyurethane.

Here's what I've learned.

Polyurethane pots can be almost indistinguishable from terra cotta, stone or cement pots, except that the polyurethane containers are much, much lighter, and have some other valuable benefits. Polyurethane is up to an inch thick and has the feel of hardened styrene foam. It is a good insulator that will keep plant roots from overheating in summer and help extend the season in fall. Most pots are guaranteed for at least 36 months against chipping, cracking, fading and freeze damage. They can by easily drilled for drainage, if they don't already have a drainage hole in the bottom.

Polyethylene is another option. Polyethylene may appear indistinguishable from terra-cotta on the outside, but the rim is rolled over to the inside to make it appear as thick as terra cotta. The rest of the pot wall is only 1/4 to 3/8 inch thick. Despite its thinness (which makes it lightweight) the material is tough, resisting damage from sun and frost. Although this type of pot is good-looking, it doesn't have the insulating capacity of the polyurethane pots. These normally have pre-drilled holes.

I've also run across the terms "resin" and "fiberglass," and I'm trying to figure out if either means the same as polyurethane. Also, I've noticed that most of the staff at my local garden centers have no clue about how to identify a polyurethane pot, and are as likely to point me to a polyethylene or plastic choice.

I haven't yet been able to find someplace - online or otherwise - to purchase simple faux terra cotta (no carved grape leaves, etc.) polyurethane pots in a variety of sizes. Any tips would be welcome!


    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 1:37PM
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username_5(banned for no reason)

I have had a couple for, I think 3 years now.

I don't know what 'grade' they are.

They are indeed very light. Even lighter than the plastic containers I have.

What I noticed for the first time this year is they seem to be getting a little on the brittle side. They are still in use and their structural integrity remains, but the material seems like at the rate it is 'aging' I probably have 1-2 years before I pick up the pot and the bottom (where I drilled drainage holes) falls out. I have brought these into a garage for winters, otherwise they are outside.

I guess 4-5 years for a container isn't so bad, but then again I only buy containers in the fall when they are 50-75% off at some places, not now when I would be paying 2-3 times the price.

I think these would probably last much longer as indoor pots with a cheap plastic/nursery pot inside and the top covered with moss than as planters outside.

    Bookmark   May 11, 2006 at 3:32PM
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I recently purchased a large foam planter on sale at a Michaels craft store. It is called Gardien Glazed Planters by Consolidated Foam, Inc. and was made in China. I was planning to pot up some culinary herbs in it. I don't know anything about the material, and I'm wondering if there is a chance of chemicals leaching into the soil.

Please advise.

    Bookmark   June 28, 2006 at 10:01PM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

I've used the foam type pots for at least 8 years. I think the oldest shrub that I have in one is my crape myrtle, although that comes in for winter. I have had various things in other foam pots of similar age that have stayed out year round and have done fine, including being snowed and rained on - perhaps because they are not completely out in the open. I had a shallow one some time ago and after about 3 years, did experience what Tracy mentioned when using a trowel a bit too hard against one side to remove some plants from the soil and it split.

ptm - if you are worried about chemicals leaching, use plastic or clay for your herbs.

    Bookmark   June 29, 2006 at 8:33AM
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I just bought a foam ice chest for .50 cents and am trying this.

To put some holes in the bottom I used an apple corer. LOL
It worked fine!

I'm imagining that it won't last many years so will only plant annuals in it.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2006 at 7:14PM
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I bought a large one for a dollar (Yes, One Dollar!) at a rummage sale several years ago and I love it. Mine looks just like concrete, and it has held up for as many years as I've had it...plus the original owners. And...I just leave it out all winter. Doesn't crack like my other pots.

    Bookmark   August 7, 2006 at 11:59AM
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Im kind of a terra cotta snob, I love them but cant find the different shapes here in Ohio. About four years ago, I bought three of these foam containers and they are still just as strong as the day I bought them. My only complaint is the paint (they were a white washed stone color) faded leaving an ugly shade of yellow foam. Im almost positive you cant spray paint this stuff (doesnt it melt?) So this year, Im going to have to empty them out and paint with a brush, the outside of them.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 10:23AM
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I hope you let us know how it works out, keekush. I would love to re-creat mine a bit.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2006 at 12:30PM
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Of course the manufacturers make a profit. We do live in a capitalist society.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 12:52AM
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Daisy7(7 WTX)

I have a couple and hate them. My area is so windy, I'm always having to pick them up off the ground, even with low growing plant material in them. I think they dry out faster than any of my other pots. Has anyone else experienced that?

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 1:11AM
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jenny_in_se_pa(USDA7 Sunset 32)

Daisy - the drying out might also be a function of the soil mix that you have in the container. Any of the lightweight containers, whether foam or plastic, etc., have a potential of blowing over in the wind. Grouping pots can help some. I think the fact that they are much lighter weight than similar terra cotta, stone, concrete, or ceramic pots makes them valuable for those who want the ability to be able move them around more easily.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 9:37AM
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Daisy 7 said: I think they dry out faster than any of my other pots. Has anyone else experienced that?

I haven't found that with mine, but mine is bigger than any other planter I have, with a wide base, so even dry soil would be heavy enough to hold it.

    Bookmark   August 13, 2006 at 10:07AM
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sedum37(Z5 MA)

For decorating these pots, Rebeccas Garden had a segment where they used gel stains. Check out the link below. Another good book for ideas is: Annie Sloan's Painted Garden.

Here is a link that might be useful: Using Gel Stains on Foam Planters

    Bookmark   August 29, 2006 at 2:15PM
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Thanks for the link sedum, it does help.
I will nancyjean...Im waiting to overwinter the plant thats in it in a different pot so its empty when I try this :)

    Bookmark   September 5, 2006 at 8:55AM
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lssvoulezvous(Zone 8 Seattle)

I LOVE these planters. We have several, and I am shopping for more right now. The ones I have now I purchased at Home Depot and have had for several years. I leave them out year 'round, but of course our winters are usually pretty mild here in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, they are easily dented, but I find that their extremely light weight, good looks and reasonable cost more than make up for them being somewhat fragile. I don't find it very difficult to avoid damaging them and ours have held up well. The Gardien Lightweight Planters by Consolidated Foam have a nice quality look and are what I am shopping for at present. The line is a good one, and has styles to suit every taste. The place I found them charged quite a bit, so I'm shopping... You can Google them and take a look.

    Bookmark   October 24, 2006 at 6:15PM
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I love them and been buying them about 4 years. I get mine at the Dollar Store and pay $5.00 each for them. I probably have over 20 and so far no cracking, fading or other damage. They stay out all winter too. I'll never buy the real thing again. As far as being lightweight, after I drill holes in the bottom I put a couple of rocks in the bottom and do like Jenny suggested and group my pots.

    Bookmark   October 28, 2006 at 5:11PM
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Well, last year, I finally tracked down the Gardien planters from Consolidated Foam - and, as I'd hoped, they worked great! No drying out, less watering than terra cotta, and I can see that they protected my herbs better than tc, as a few are starting to come back. Like you keekush, I'm a "tc snob", too. The best thing about the Gardien pots is that they have a style that matches my many terra cotta pots perfectly! HOWEVER, I had to search all over to find it, and eventually ended up ordering the style I wanted from acehardwareoutlet.com - in packs of 6, which was the only option. And, they didn't have all the sizes I wanted. I've called Consolidated Foam, but they don't seem to know which retailers in my area carry their product. I'm in eastern PA, on the NJ border - anybody got any tips on where I can find more Gardien pots?

    Bookmark   April 30, 2007 at 2:43PM
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I bought a couple of rectangular foam planters a few years ago. I have an aversion to phony terra-cotta and petroleum products in general, but these looked so convincing and were so light weight, I couldn't resist. They have been incredible. I live in the Sierra foothills in California where they are exposed to 110 degree summer sun all day on my deck and freezing snow all winter. I've had these planters for about 12 years. They are finally showing their age a bit, but I expect they'll last another couple of years. I can lift and move them easily when I need to because they weight almost nothing. Terra cotta and glazed ceramic pots and plantars fall apart after 2-3 years here because it just can't take freezing, but these planters can take it.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2011 at 3:49PM
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