While container gardening is the only viable option left for apartment dwellers in an overcrowded metropolis, one fact largely ignored by home-garden lovers is that the pots are as important as the life they nourish. Owing to this, we find all kinds of fancy pots at homes, displaying elegant surfaces, but not really aiding the healthy growth of the plant.
Containers are made of many materials, including ordinary clay, terracotta, ceramic, cement, brass, or fibre-glass to name a few. Plastic pots too are widely used, and at times, the plants are just kept wrapped in plastic sheets.
However, no container is as effective as a clay pot, for two reasons — firstly, because of its porous surface which provides for lateral aeration and secondly for the drainage of extra water it is usually provided with.
“Clay pots are advisable over ceramic or fibre glass containers, as the latter are totally non-porous and do not facilitate aeration. In case one is buying the latter, one should make sure that they have a hole beneath for drainage of excess water. Otherwise, the plant will start rotting,” says an expert.
The same advice holds good for plastic pots too which are bought not for ornamentation, but for cheaper bargains. Narrow-mouthed pots should not be used for obvious reasons. “Roots spread according to the shape of the container. If the pot is narrow-mouthed and larger in its centre-girth, removing the plant will be impossible unless one breaks the pot.”
Smaller the better
The size of the pot should be manageable, but not too small if the plants are to be grown in balconies.
Built-up area radiates more heat than open environs, and hence, the ideal pot size should be between 8 inches to 12 inches. They can be handled and shifted easily.
One should also change the pots as the plants grow. Plants with good growth potential may be grown in pots of 14 to 18 inches in size. However, the containers should be kept in permanent places from where they will not need frequent shifting. Climbers should always be planted in pots not less than 15 inches in size.
Flat, tub-like pots can be used to create a bed-like appearance for bushy growth. If the balconies are of considerable size, pots of 24 to 36 inches can be used for growing small trees and fruiting varieties. One option for easy handling of heavy containers is to place them on wheeled trolleys, so that they can be moved.
Sun-loving plants of smaller sizes should not be kept at the floor level, lest the parapet wall blocks the plant from sunlight.
The ideal option would be to place the pots in stands or pedestals. Ornamental pedestals branching out in two or three pots are available in the market.
In case of indoor plants, the pots should always be placed in trays, so that the water drainage does not stain the floor.
The same applies to the hanging containers used for rambling or trailing varieties of plants.
Dripping of water may be avoided by using a tray underneath.