Using black nursery pots for veggies

brian6464(4a)April 15, 2014

Need some advice on the use of black nursery pots.

I can procure large quantities of 3 gallon pots from someone who works at Costco and gets their nursery containers.

I have seen some posts where people advise against using black pots or at least wrapping them in heat reflective colors to avoid cooking the roots.

I'm mainly considering them for peppers using something close to 511 mix. I'm in Minnesota, so extended periods of scorching heat is abnormal.

Any thoughts on this? Nurseries don't take any precautions when using them, so why would it be a problem for a home gardener?

Thanks in advance for any advice.

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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

IDK about retail nurseries, but the wholesale nurseries I deal with pack the containers close together so that the edge ones can shade the interior ones if possible. They also water the heck out of them.

That said, I use them all the time. You probably want #5s and #15s for most veg though.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 10:53AM
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Thanks for the input. Mainly just worried about the heat absorption of the black pots.

I've previously grown veggeis in ~3 gallon pots with mostly good luck. I would agree that #5 would be better, but #15 sounds like overkill for the average home gardener. When you are growing 30+ plants in pots, my opinion is that it takes up too much space, requires too much potting mix and becomes too difficult if not impossible to move if necessary.

However, probably important to note that I am in Minnesota and only grow plants for one season. If I was to grow them longer, I could certainly see the benefit of larger pots.

This year, I'm going to test out the Walmart bag idea I have seen on this forum. I'll also test out a couple plants in pots larger than #5. Who knows, maybe next year I will be exclusively in Walmart bags or larger pots.

This post was edited by brian6464 on Tue, Apr 15, 14 at 14:44

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 1:03PM
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I'm in Zone 8 and even the black pots do OK, depending on the water schedule, shade, and certainly the potting soil's ability to retain moisture.

Since you're OK to try different kinds of pots, then maybe you can also consider cardboard boxes. Those are gaining some bit of traction as a fun and different kind of container. It's likely 1 season only but there should be plenty available when you need the next supply. At the end of the season, you can even add it to your compost pile.

    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 4:48PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Black pots are okay - usually. On a roof or highly reflective surface I'd worry. But on dirt you'll be okay.

Besides, your plants will be big enough when the heat comes that the pot won't get much direct sun anyway.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 5:00PM
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I use those black plastic pots every season and never had a problem with any plants dying from overheating. I'm in zone 5 so maybe it would be a bigger issue in a hotter zone. I have also used a few leftover white, red, and green pots and all worked fine. In a perfect world I might use all white pots to reflect heat but you rarely see them for sale in my area.

During the very hot summer months you should keep the roots well supplied with water. Also try, if possible, to keep the plants shaded a bit during the very hot afternoon hours.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2014 at 8:08PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Well if you are going to grow indeterminate tomatoes, #15s are the way to go.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 10:46AM
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nil13 - Agreed. I mainly pot peppers. Have done some tomatoes in pots, but never had great luck since I am gone alot and cannot consistenly water. Peppers are a little more forgiving. I'm planning on close to 30 varieties of peppers in a small suburban lot, so that is why I need to manage my pot size.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 12:54PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Sounds like you need and irrigation valve and some spot spitters.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 5:01PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Plastic is plastic, black or any color. The only difference is that BLACK absorbs heat and does NOT reflect any. That can warm up the soil under direct sun somewhat more than other colors. In my climate BLACK is a plus because we have much cooler temps ( Heat Zone 1). For the same reason I have covered my beds with black plastic. Probably in higher heat zones a lighter and brighter color can be better.

    Bookmark   April 16, 2014 at 7:38PM
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I started researching the spot spitter idea after seeing it mentioned in another post. Anyone know if these are sold by any big retail outlets? Or is just certain authorized dealers?

I'm potting up my first 4 Wally World bags this weekend. Wife thinks I'm crazy. We'll see. I'll be using 3 gallon black pots as well. Don't anticipate heat related troubles in MN.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2014 at 2:24PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

You have to order the spot spitters online. You aren't going to find them in a store unless you have a John Deere store nearby.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 12:05PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

For what it is worth, here is my attempt. I think the smaller pots in front are 3.5 gallon. They are 10". The ones on back are 15" and 17".

I am very happy with the $33 drip irrigation kit (with timer) I got at Lowes on clearance. It is a Raindrip. I have two inline emitters in the big pots and one in the small. Right now I run them every 8 hours for 10 minutes. That seems to work for my semi-random soil, compost, and sand mix.

I really like being able to leave for the weekend and to come back to happy tomatoes.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 4:11PM
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I use only black pots in my zone.

Hot peppers are more heat-loving than bell peppers.

Hot peppers, eggplant, okra and melons are adapted to heat and it is very difficult to "cook their roots" in a cool climate. In India, where eggplant originates, soil temperatures often exceed 100 degrees and production does not suffer.

    Bookmark   April 18, 2014 at 4:18PM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

My photo in the previous message was taken on March 25. I took a picture this morning (April 19) to show progress since.

I think the tomatoes (bought as 4" plants) look happy. I started eggplant and peppers from seed in the smaller pots. They popped up but are not doing much, I guess waiting for hotter weather.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2014 at 12:40PM
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