Plastic or Paper ( no no no )

lori_40(Ontario)March 25, 2010

Hi everyone, I'm fairly new to the site, and loving it by the way. My question is... What type of pots do you prefer, plastic or ceramic, there's clay, and also how about all those kinds of repotting mixes? i'm sure this has been asked before so thanks for your contributions again. I'm about to embark on some repotting and want to make the right choices for my plants,maybe it does'nt matter? Lori

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frogs28(Zone 7)

I'm sure most will say it depends on the plant. Plastic is more flexible for wiggle room or you can cut when your ready for a repot. So, I guess, in that respect, it is easier. Some other considerations are do you have kids or pets...plastic...unlimited amounts of moola or a plant sugar daddy...ceramic...Clay is also good for your cactus and plastic are good for hanging (lighter)...don't forget your drainage options...if you have plastic and they have no drainage holes in bottom...use an awl(sp?)and poke holes in it (easy for plastic) for ceramic you need to use a tile drill bit to bore holes...Here's a solution...plant in plastic inside ceramic ;)...Get a nice plant book and that might tell you specific deets for your individual plants...For soil..let Al take this one...he's our dirt man around here...Al be gentle with her...she's new. Al close your eyes for the following part...I always use (EEKK) New Era houseplant mix mixed with a little miracle grow (not moisture control) and a dash of miracle grow cactus soil. I know, I know gritty mix. I hear ya but I'm lazy.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 3:17PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)

Sorry, not a simple answer. It's entirely dependant on too many factors to say. Depends on the type of plant, the type of mix, whether grown indoors or out & whether the grower is prone to overwatering or not.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 3:33PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I have no stake in what you use. ;o) I just try to see that you get all the information you need to decide what fits your your program best. No need to apologize. Lol

What type of pot material is best has been discussed many times. There will be a LOT of people that prefer plastic or ceramic because it is more convenient and allows them more free time and flexibility, but from the plant's perspective, unglazed clay (terra-cotta) is definitely one of the best materials you can use, and the best choice of the most popular - glazed ceramic, plastic.

Clay breathes, and requires more frequent watering, which is a GOOD thing. Water evaporates more rapidly from a clay pot, which also helps to cool roots in the heat of summer. It doesn't 'over-cool' pots because evaporation is reduced considerably when temperatures fall. Because you need to water more frequently with clay pots, you're forcing harmful gasses (CO2, methane, sulfurous compounds) from the soil and bring in fresh air behind the charge of water. Another benefit of the gas-permeable walls and faster evaporation, is it allows you to use soils that would be too heavy in plastic and glazed pots for good plant vitality because it allows air back into the pores of heavy soils much faster than plastic or ceramic.

Again, other materials might be 'prettier' and might extend the intervals between watering (not particularly a good thing) but you have a much greater potential to grow healthier plants in clay pots. Grower convenience and coaxing plants to grow at as near their genetic potential as possible are more often than not, mutually exclusive.

It's no secret what I prefer as a soil for all my houseplants. Anything that might be in the same soil for more than 1 growth cycle goes in the 'gritty mix'.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 3:38PM
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I have most of my plants, which are mainly succulents, in unglazed terra cotta pots. Personally I like the aesthetics of clay over plastic, but the main reason is the soil dries out more readily, which is crucial for succulents. As you must be aware, more houseplants die from overwatering than underwatering.


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 5:35PM
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thanks everybody for lots of useful information. I think i'll go out and get a couple new clay pots, but also i have some favorite ceramic ones i'll contiue to use. I was just wondering what everyones preference was.

    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 8:58PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's not a critical decision, Lori. I do have a ton of plants in terra cotta, but I still have more plants in plastic and glazed ceramic; though I definitely see better growth in terra cotta, wood, mesh ..... and I even stick a few plants (growing on for bonsai) I want to see rampant growth in, in those white plastic tubs with hundreds of holes in the sides because the added aeration/gas exchange is such a plus for root growth.

Even if we don't always act on it, it's nice to at least understand the positive/negative effects of various container materials on our plants.

Good luck. ;o)


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 9:24PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

This is a great thread!

I love terra cotta. I guess the look and feel of it just blends in with my area , being the desert, espicially when they get old. Less worries of them tipping over in a summer storm too.

I did know about it breathing.. But have learned alot here about the cooling and gasses.

As time and finances allow, I will be slowly switching all my plants over. I actually decided this last summer after having some tomatos ruined in a huge storm due to rolling across the yard..LOL!

Thank you Al~


    Bookmark   March 25, 2010 at 11:43PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

You can often find a some great bargains on terra cotta containers at thrift stores, garage sales, and similiar. Check to see if you have a Freecycle branch in your community. I unloaded 55 pots just recently via Freecycle. Many of them were quite large.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 9:09AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi rhizo,
Thanks! Ive heard of freecycle, but never thought to look for them. I'll look into it.

Next week were going to the swap meet.
Love looking around there. :)


    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 9:42AM
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A lot of my plants are in plastic pots because I had them lying around/they came in them, but I generally prefer clay. As others have already said, it breathes, dries down more evenly, and other nice things.

I also think they look nicer and they're a *lot* cheaper than plastic around here.

I also use some of those peat pots for a few of my seedlings and succulents because they dry down really fast.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 11:54AM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


I'd stay away from peat pots for succulents, that's asking for problems w/ rot, almost guaranteed.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 2:22PM
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pirate girl:

I think I mentioned this elsewhere, but I'm talking about pots *made* out of pressed peat and some adhesive.

I'm not talking those little peat pellets that inflate when you soak them in water. This illustrates the pots and pellets. I use the pots. Not the pellets.

Basically I just poke some drainage holes in the bottoms of the peat pots and fill them with a fast draining soil. They don't really hold that much water and tend to dry evenly, as well, since any excess moisture is sucked up by the pot itself and usually evaporates fairly quickly at that point.

    Bookmark   March 26, 2010 at 10:50PM
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pirate_girl(Zone7 NYC)


Oh, then please excuse me, I had not understood about the pressed peat vs. the soaking pellets, OK, got it. Apologies then & for those who remember Roseanne Roseannadanna, "Well then 'Nevermind'".

    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 10:55AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I don't like peat-pellets OR peat-pots. ;)


    Bookmark   March 27, 2010 at 11:45AM
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