Plants using moisture in catch trays

smedley12June 8, 2012

Hello all! I'm somewhat new to container gardening on my balcony - this is my third summer. In the past I have used the large plastic pots that have holes directly in the bottom, and have put them on top of the little plastic catch trays. The plants seem to use the water that drains out into the trays and suck it up (for lack of a better term) through the holes in the bottom.

This year I changed up my pots - these are still the large plastic one, but there's like a chamber thing / double wall thing in the bottom. There are three holes on the top part of this chamber, then maybe an inch or two of space, and then finally a hole on the very bottom (so, if you can imagine the soil sits on top of the top chamber and then the inch or two of space would just fill up with water and drain though the one hole). I still have them on the catch trays, but it seems like the plants aren't sucking up the water. Now I'm wondering if NOT having the soil directly next to the moisture source / tray is causing issues? Is there any way to make sure my plants are still sucking up the moisture from the trays?

To add to to the complexity, I also read that there should be gravel in the bottom of the pots, so I did in fact add about an inch of gravel before the soil. So not sure if this is creating a problem too?

Thanks all!

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Ohiofem(6a Ohio)

It is not good for plants to reabsorb the water that drains out the bottom of the pot when you water. It is removing salts from the potting mix, and if the pot doesn't drain completely, the soggy soil in the bottom will kill the roots. It is also not true that adding gravel to the bottom improves drainage. Just the opposite happens. I encourage you to read one of the most popular discussions on this forum if you want to understand what is going on inside your containers.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container soils - Water movement and retention

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 12:27AM
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