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Pros and Cons of Various Planting Containers

 
gardener
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In Edible Paradise by Vera Greutink, Chapter 1 starts off with a good discussion of the pros and cons and different planting containers and pots.

For example, metal containers can be good for plants that need heat:

Vera Greutink wrote:Metal containers are long lasting but can heat up excessively if they are in a sunny spot. This can be beneficial for some heat-loving crops (peppers, aubergines) but can be fatal for fruit trees in winter.



However, metal containers can be detrimental to plants by confusing them into thinking that spring is earlier than it really is:

Vera Greutink wrote:If the pot heats up on a sunny day, the tree thinks it’s spring and starts to produce sugar. But because the plant is not actively growing at that moment, the sugar is not used and turns into alcohol, which can kill the plant.



What are some other pros and cons for other plant containers? Their costs? Their toxicity? Their benefit/detriment to certain types of plants?
 
gardener
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This was the first year i tried wicking beds in containers. I was very surprised how well it did in my Texas heat. By far the biggest yellow squash and zuchini plants i have ever grown. I should also add that the seeds were planted while temps were still approaching 100 degrees. This one is 2ft x 8ft x 2ft deep. I added another that is 8 ft diameter dedicated to strawberries. .
 
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'Vera Greutink wrote:
If the pot heats up on a sunny day, the tree thinks it’s spring and starts to produce sugar. But because the plant is not actively growing at that moment, the sugar is not used and turns into alcohol, which can kill the plant.'


I don’t know if that assumption is correct – it may be more likely the warmer soil promotes early budding when the surrounding air temperature is too cold, causing frost burn. The biggest fear is most metal containers are cheap galvanised ones, where the zinc and other chemicals adversely affect plants.

I find containers that retain heat – terracotta/metal give seedlings a very big head-start in late Winter early Spring, much like a cold frame.

Plastic pots are almost a necessary evil and far too convenient. I like them for cultivating from seed – better control, and to harden-up seedlings before planting out into the garden. But mostly, they are very polluting simply because of the number produced and their throw-away nature.

Toilet rolls and shaped newspaper tubes are excellent alternatives for quick turnover – assist with input of carbon into the soil as well.

In regards to water retention: unglazed terracotta/clay are  good for arid loving plants. Even the glazed ones dry out too quickly in our Temperate and Subtropical climates, though they are good for indoor plants because it’s easy to gauge critical moisture levels.

Hollowed tree trunks and sandstone rocks are REALLY good for ferns and orchids – the wood and rock mimics their natural growing environments.
 
pollinator
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Earthboxes are great. Plastic but they last a long time. I have some that are over ten years old. They are expensive though.

https://earthbox.com/
 
pollinator
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I am in a place with strong sun and almost no plastic lasts more than 2 years without breaking down. I need to hill up dirt around these pots. And as FAgricola says, the terra cotta get really hot and dry out fast- good for planting rosemary, figs, and citrus, but not so great for other things.
 
gardener
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I'm a big fan of sub irrigated planters.
Never too wet,  rarely too dry, they are my lazy gardening go too.
Plus I get to build something.
Mine are so simple,  I often skip the feed tube.
Mostly they are little bucket upside down inside of a bigger buckets.
Cut slots where you need to let water in or out.
Add wicking soil,water and plants.
Something I want to try more of is this kind of thing buried in a raised bed in next to a tree we it is planted, as a kind if olla.

5 gallon buckets last a long time in our weather here,  but 55 gallon barrels and 275 gallon totes are designed to be in the weather and last indefinitely.
If I really want something smaller than a icing bucket, I favor #10 cans or one gallon vinegar bottles.

If you have shovel friendly soil,  a tarp lined hole filled with upside down buckets and wicking soil is super cheap wicking bed.

 
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I am trying to phase out cheap/small plastic containers because they make such a mess when they deteriorate in the elements. Drums, calf feed tubs, and anything thick enough to resist UV shatter I still like.

I love glazed and unglazed pottery of all sizes, but large is expensive, and rare to find unbroken at garage sales, my main source for containers.

I don’t have an issue with galvanized metal but it’s another thing that’s rare at garage sales.

If you’re not scared of aluminum, old pressure canner vessels go real cheap once the lids, gaskets, valves, and guages have deteriorated beyond use. And drain holes are easy to drill.

I also like old steel five-gallon paint buckets — they tend to be well-coated against corrosion.

Another garage sale trick is to watch for those big enameled-steel hot-water-bath canning pots. Once the enamel chips and they start to rust, people dump them cheap. But for our purposes, the rusty chipped spot is just the marker for “Drill drain hole here.”

When my brother in law gets his sawmill spun up, I am hoping to get some rough-milled boards in Eastern Red Cedar. I think I can make some durable planter boxes from those.
 
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plastic is a love hate relationship
i hate plastic, but its everywhere
pete pots are just about ideal for starting annuals to plant in garden
its a shame that a biodegradable alternative to plastic pots has not been mass produced yet
Pakistan has outlawed some plastics, if pakistan can do it you would think the rest of the world could catch up with them.
 
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