Packing peanuts ???

magigalOctober 6, 2009

I saw a reference on another forum that briefly commented about the negative issue of lightening the weight of outdoor planters by using packing peanuts in the planter,under the soil.

He did not say what the negative issue is.

Could someone link me to the places to read more about this issue?

Also , the poster referred to not drilling holes in planters for drainage. What is the negative about this procedure?

Thank you.

Patricia

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Packing peanuts are a messy way to either lighten containers of reduce the volume of soil required to fill them. They don't help with drainage, and serve only to raise the location of the layer of soggy soil that usually occupies the bottom of the pot. Instead, that soggy layer 'perches' on top of the peanuts. If you decide to use them anyway, you may wish to consider putting them in a mesh bag (pantyhose?).

The negative aspects of no drainage holes are many. First, it's unlikely you could ever leave the planting out in the rain, and all but the most experienced waterers would likely have issues related to root rot, anaerobic conditions, and just over-watering in general. The preferences or claimed results of one individual, unless they make sound sense, should probably be considered within the context of known science and the experiences of other growers before we adopt them wholesale. 'No drain holes' doesn't pass the litmus test .... unless you would be willing to make several adjustments that require considerable effort to accommodate a less than desirable practice.

Al

    Bookmark   October 6, 2009 at 9:20AM
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freedee

Syrofoam looks and fells so much like perlite. Do they have anything in common?

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 11:30AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Size for size, they would be approximately equal in properties with perlite perhaps getting a slight nod because its more irregular shape is slightly more efficient at increasing drainage aeration. It's the large size of the peanuts that makes them useless as an aid to drainage.

Al

    Bookmark   October 7, 2009 at 12:27PM
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gardengal48

And because styrofoam is not the slightest bit 'green' and has a half-life of pretty much forever, its use is rapidly falling out of favor and many "styrofoam" products - including a lot of packing peanuts - are now made of biodegradable or compostable ingredients, like corn starch. These would really be of no benefit in a container planting situation :-)

    Bookmark   October 8, 2009 at 11:32AM
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tride26(6)

if you need to use packing peanuts in your pot......YOUR USING TOO BIG OF A POT.

    Bookmark   October 9, 2009 at 1:30PM
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imstillatwork(8-9 Oregon Coast / Ca Border)

If you think your using too big of a pot, you using the wrong soil :) sorry, I had to!

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 3:01PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Heh heh heh - right on .....! Strong work!

Al

    Bookmark   October 11, 2009 at 5:20PM
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jane__ny(9-10)

I've used packing peanuts in orchid potting for many years. Works well and is a good pot filler. Orchid roots seem to seek it out. I have also used it for many years in my large outdoor containers. Great way to get rid of this stuff!

Recycle...
Jane

    Bookmark   October 19, 2009 at 9:54AM
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gardengal48

Since orchids are epiphytes and only require root anchorage from the potting medium, packing peanuts may work better for this application than for other container plants. But you still want to make sure they are styrofoam peanuts and not starch based :-)

    Bookmark   October 20, 2009 at 10:28AM
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pandorahsbox

Help! I placed packing peanuts (cornstarch) in the bottoms of 3 of my planters last night, then proceeded to plant and water in. This morning, I found each planter's contents had "sunk". Why? I am so frustrated! I added more dirt but is this going to happen again? I'm not made of money, (or time) so I was just trying to save on the media. Now I'm concerned. Each container does have a drainage hole in the bottom. Any advice would be appreciated! Thank you!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 11:56AM
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sarajill(6b)

Those cornstarch peanuts are designed to break down in water! That's why your planter-level sank. The first time I ever saw those peanuts in action, a friend of mine, who found it cool, brought me over to the sink, dumped the peanuts in, and ran the water. Voila, those nuts were nuthin'!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 1:10PM
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pandorahsbox

Well, what am I suppposed to do now? Fish them all out and start over?

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 1:39PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Yes - they will greatly increase water retention of the soil. They wouldn't have helped at all with drainage, even if they would have remained intact. If your intent was to use them as filler material to save on the amount of soil you would have to use to fill the pot, an upturned container INSIDE the one you're filling works great for that ..... or use soda bottles, milk jugs ..... with the caps screwed on tight. You can even fill them with water as ballast if that is helpful - to keep pots from being blown over/off railings .....

Al

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 1:58PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance

I really didn't know that peanuts are now biodegradable. They melt when water hits them, so if this is the kind you are using, they won't do what you expect. I used some inside of planting sleeves around my grapevines last year to help insulate them from the heat, and when the water hit them, they melted!! I had no clue they are now biodegradable!

Read that post here in this forum about the SWC from Mexico. Those folks put leaves and grass cuttings in the container, and it makes it much lighter, and the dirt doesn't sift down into that. They don't use a drain on the bottom, but put a drain on the side, so there is a water reservoir that gives humidity to the pot. I think it's pretty interesting as a concept.
Suzi

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 2:34PM
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pandorahsbox

Thank you for your help!

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 3:23PM
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