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Listen up pot-aholics!

We have the dirt on containers By Tania Moffat

lovers as well. Brilliant bright plastic containers are available in every shape and colour of the rainbow. Wood, metal or stone add rugged appeal or folksy charm. Cement, terra-cotta and clay are old-time favourites and that’s not even mentioning all the latest self- watering, biodegradable and fibreglass pots. With all this choice, what on earth should a gardener do? Which pot is best? Here’s the dirt - we outline the pros and cons and let you in on a few container secrets. Clay or terra-cotta. All natural.


Terra-cotta is the epitome of the plant pot. Made of soil and fired in kilns, this age-old design works. It is porous allowing water and air into the soil, helping plants to breathe. If you have a heavy watering hand this may be the pot for you as they make it virtually impossible to overwater, but they do dry out quicker than other containers so you will need to water more often. As they age, these pots will begin

to discolour. They are prone to crusty white

deposits from mineral salts

because the potting medium and fertil- 16 • Spring 2015

oday there are more choices in containers than ever before lead- ing plant-lovers to become pot-

over-wintering, unless you’re bringing them indoors. Note: Be sure to soak new pots over-

night in water before using them. This will prevent them from absorbing the water from your new plant. Glazed terra-cotta. Classic and

Sedum-rubrotinctum in a glazed terra-cotta pot.

izers are absorbed through the clay. No worries. It can be scrubbed off. These containers are great for adding stability to top heavy plants or areas that receive a lot of wind. Terra-cotta is perfect for plants

that require well-drained, dry

soil like cacti but can be a problem for starting seeds or planting moisture- loving plants. The downside to their classic beauty that

is they are easily broken, very

heavy and not particularly suitable for cold weather. Water left in the pot will freeze and can lead to cracking or flak- ing paint. Clay is great for growing annuals and plants that do not require

modern, glazing kicks up the attraction factor by adding colour. Glazing will make the pot slightly more resilient to weathering, but they will still require protection from freezing temperatures. Fiberglass. If it looks like terra-cotta,

stone or metal but doesn’t feel the same you may be looking at a fibreglass container. These containers are light and rigid - that means easy to move and durable. The downside is that they will flake, chip and fade over time especially if left to the elements year-round. Metal. The classic look of a cast iron

style urn planter is hard for a gardener not to admire. They are the ultimate in durability able to withstand any weath- er and are difficult to break. Rusting can be held at bay with a yearly seal- ant application. So what’s the problem? Iron is HEAVY and like most metals absorbs the heat, making plants (and hands) susceptible to burning. Sheet metal pots are lighter and generally

Photo by JJ Harrison.

Photo by Petr Kratochvil.

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