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Now clay is cheaper...

Posted by purpleinopp 8b AL (My Page) on
Wed, Feb 27, 13 at 11:23

Plastic in general has gotten much more expensive, so you will probably have sticker-shock when it comes time to get some new pots if you haven't lately. Conversely, clay pots have come down, and are now cheaper, until you get to the really big ones. BUT are these cheap pots going to last like a higher-quality old school pot? That's a total reverse of the past decade, when a plastic pot was always cheaper.

Once I read about the difference between high quality vs. cheap clay pots, I'm not sure if the ultra cheap ones are worth buying at all. I know the plastic ones are good for AT LEAST a decade, but I'm just sick of the cheap hodge-podge look of all of the different colors, and the really ugly stuff like margarine tubs. (Although recycling rocks, I do that too when finished with a "pot" eventually.) Just going with one color and replacing the rest with that color plastic would be way more expensive than changing most of my really ugly pots for clay.

My Mom has spray painted pots several times over the years and I like that the least. Eventually it will flake off and look really bad. Painting it again requires removing the plants and washing the pots... I don't wash pots, and I know I wouldn't do it for this either.

How are you dealing with this lately? How can I just go back to not caring? LOL! If I don't break them, and they don't get frozen, what kind of life span are you seeing from the cheap ones? Maybe they're more worthwhile than I think...


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

I buy so many plants in plastic pots that I have a huge stockpile of empties. Actually, I shudder to think what I've paid out for plants over the past several years. No wonder I'm still battling with mortgage payments, LOL. So I don't see any problems with having access to plastic pots well into the future.


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

I use clay pots for all of my herbs and outside potted plants. The newer onces that I purchased last year from Wal-Mart seemed thinner and weaker than the ones I have used for years. It may depend on where you buy them. A clay pot from Wal-Mart, is likely not the same quality as a clay pot purchased from a nursery.


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

I once had a terracotta strawberry planter that began to crumble during the first growing season. It was replaced after a single year. My feeling is that when it comes to clay pots, there is a huge difference in quality between the cheapos and the others. I have some other terracotta pots that I've been using for about 6 months now, and although they aren't the wildly expensive ones, they are holding up much better than the cheap strawberry planter. My experience has been that mid-priced and higher is the most bang for your buck.

Mark


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

I used to really like Italian clay pots. They were a much harder clay and lasted forever. They were more expensive but well worth it.

One thing to note about clay though, it breathes. I'm not sure how high your humidity is down in Alabama, but up here in Colorado it's quite dry. Clay pots breathe and moisture evaporates from the sides. In drier areas that means watering more often.

Larry


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Hi
A type that I've been impressed with are fiberglass . Weigh half of terracotta and cost a third. Oldest is a trough 3 foot x18 inches deep . came in a "sandstone finish complete with "cherubs and imbossed floral swags got it for 15 bucks .compared to 40 for a similar terracotta but not nearly as "fancy" lol i couldn't even find a plastic one of comparable size at that price..
A paint that I find holds up well is "Fusion" specificly made for plastics i recently tried it on a 30 year old patio table with the added feature of "Abrasion resistant" Very impressed with the paint but must wait for the "Abrasion' results . It did survive my first repotting go round!!! gary


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Hi
A type that I've been impressed with are fiberglass . Weigh half of terracotta and cost a third. Oldest is a trough 3 foot x18 inches deep . came in a "sandstone finish complete with "cherubs and imbossed floral swags got it for 15 bucks .compared to 40 for a similar terracotta but not nearly as "fancy" lol i couldn't even find a plastic one of comparable size at that price..
A paint that I find holds up well is "Fusion" specificly made for plastics i recently tried it on a 30 year old patio table with the added feature of "Abrasion resistant" Very impressed with the paint but must wait for the "Abrasion' results . It did survive my first repotting go round!!! gary


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Excellent inputs, thanks for sharing.

Larry, I gotta tell ya, I was really cracking up when I read your post. I know you were genuinely sharing info, no doubt valuable for those with low humidity like yourself, but if you knew how sticky, thick, and pregnant the air is here... air you can wear... if you're thirsty, just open your mouth... when you first walk outside, you get wet from condensation on your cooler skin and clothes, THEN you sweat...

After living here a couple years, I had thrown away everything leather that I owned because it was rotted.


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

I laid in a stock of 6" terra cotta pot recently when I found them at a good price. Like everything else, they're going up.

One thing I like to use is plastic coffee cans. Folgers has great ones, they're heavy and last a long time. I forage for them - on recycling day, I drive around the neighborhood and take them from recycling bins before the city comes around to pick them up. I think I have about 15 or so, mostly the large ones. They come in handy for a lot of things.


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

I am unabashedly pro-clay pot for everything I grow. A clay pot, handled with reasonable care, can last a very, very long time. I have 2 that I have had for almost 40 years--yes, there's my age giveaway--and more that are well over 25 years old. I scavenge old pots when and wherever I can, so have amassed quite a collection, and most of my plants grow in these.

Now, that said, modern clay pots can be another story. Lower firing and in some cases, only a slip coating of terra cotta-colored clay over some poorer black/grey clay, has less durability. It all comes back to buying the best one can afford, and, if you paid more for them, take care of them as they are a real investment. Cheap, but disposable, is not cheap.

I'm not even going to get into plastic's environmental issues. That's for another post.


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

There is no doubt these cheap pots are not the same as "real" terra cotta, as I said above. I just don't know if they're even worth $2 - $3. The garden centers that sell Italian or other well-made terra cotta are not ripping people off, those are much higher quality pots with a much more time-consuming fabrication process. It's fascinating to read about, if interested, lots of info out there. Some people can tell by the sound it makes when gently tapped, and there are a lot of other facets to inspect when trying to know if you're looking at a high quality piece of terra cotta or not, but the price is usually the best one.

"Cheap, but disposable, is not cheap." Well said! I was just wondering how cheap. Since I've got some now, I'll be sure to report if/when they crumble or whatever it is they do.

And hey, above I was so busy savoring Larry's comment about humidity that I forgot my other point. I totally agree, the few of these cheap clay pots I've gotten seem much more porous than I remember, but I didn't soak them before using. I put succulent cuttings in most of them, a few already-rooted plants, so didn't think I should. Fast-drying is what I wanted for the succulents for which these were purchased, but could be way too much to deal with for people who don't like to water or don't have the time daily, especially coupled with a very porous soil.

Eahamel yes, I'm famous for eyeing a plastic container and putting holes in it to make a pot. And like Tropic, I never throw away the nursery pots unless/until they crack too badly to hold dirt. People also put stacks of nursery pots out in the spring after installing new plants. Not so much where I live now, but I used to get a lot this way. The space under the back porch had hundreds of pots but they're all in use, or given away with newly propagated plants in them.

I agree, those coffee cans are great and you can cut them off if the plant won't come out later. Same with Pringles cans, great for roots that like to go straight down, but these don't stand up well if they're outside in any wind.

There are tons of fantastic ideas on the frugal forum if people are looking for more freecycling pot ideas. I still do this, and will continue.

I'd just like to have a more cohesive, less jumbled, mish-mashed, mad scientist-looking front porch this year.

"I'm not even going to get into plastic's environmental issues." Well I don't mind, and your comment gives me 2nd thoughts. I probably could finagle repotting so that all of the "front row" pots visible from the street are green and terra. Two pot colors would be a radical reduction. Just keep working this strictly from a re-using angle, not further contributing to the glut of unnecessary plastic by buying more pots just because they're a different color. I don't need to make any more purchases just to have pots for more plants when one can repurpose so many containers that would otherwise get thrown away or recycled after just one use. Most of the problem is thinking that they should all go on the front porch. I do have other places to put "ugly" pots. Thank you, Akebono.


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Well, that's why I prefaced it with, "I'm not sure how your humidity is in Alabama". lol I guess that's not an issue for you then.

I would like some credit for suggesting "good" clay pots though. Like I said, the Italian clay pots I used to buy (while I lived in humid Washington DC, by the way) are made with a hard clay or are fired at a higher temperature. Regardless, they last forever. Expensive but in the long run more economical than cheap pots that break down in a few years.

Larry


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Hi
had to show this fiber glass pot .. Usually don't like planters that look like t hings other than pots but i got him for 75 cents and was impressed with the amount of detail
Gave him a coat of acrylic and had to add a drain hole .
gary


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Larry, yes, you're absolutely right, the lone voice of sanity in this wilderness of discussion. If I wanted to spend that much on pots, I'd be shopping for high-quality terra cotta.

Gary, that's a good deal! Not an unattractive pot at all. What's in there? Cilantro and chives?


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

I LIKE CLAY ONLY FOR SUCCULENTS


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Good clay isn't cheap.. clay pots that are correctly molded and correctly fired aren't less expensive than an equal sized lower budget plastic.

My gripes for plastic I think there is a-lot of waste in some plastic molded pots ranging from mid line soil elevating skirts inside them,... snap on( drain blocking) drainage saucers.
A consistent form and size of lip at top would be more convenient for those of us who also hang our pots. One hanger fits all pots is like asking for a USB or charger that should be universal and not have host end different sized and shaped connectors.


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RE: Now clay is cheaper...

Mr. Like, agree with every word. Usually before I even take my purse inside, when I bring a new hanging basket plant home, I pull it out and check for any of that waste inside, remove it if found. I am usually pleased when I find a divider to remove, which means there's room for more soil at the bottom.

Those saucers will come off if you pry insistently with a big screwdriver, sometimes takes a whack with a hammer too, possibly from the inside. As you mentioned, removing the saucer also frees the (usually 3) holes that were plugged by the saucers' attachment nipples. Those holes are often at the bottom, so takes care of the next step also, if so.

Then it usually needs holes added at the true bottom surface of the pot. That 1/2" of standing water is responsible for the death of so many hanging plants way before their time, IMO/E.

It's not hard to fashion hangers for pots from wire coat hangers, but not necessarily attractive. I also use heavy strength fishing line to hang pots. I prefer that so they can also spin.

It sounds like you might be hanging clay pots. This article might give you ideas about that...


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