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Thursday, January 31, 2008

Plant Containers And Composts

Plastic pots are very common nowadays for houseplants. They are useful when placed in the bedroom among the bedroom furniture since they do not break easily. Clay pots are still available too. However, in the case of clay pots, they are commonly used when plants are to be placed among the living room furniture, dining room furniture or bar furniture. This is because because the clay pots are heavy and they are not easily blown off the furniture by the wind. However, the choice of plastic pots or clay pots is entirely yours, as it makes no difference to the plants. Clay pots are heavy, providing balance for large plants, but they are porous, losing moisture through the sides, as well as from top and bottom, so more frequent watering is required. Plastic pots are clean, may be colourful or plain, but not liable to break easily.

Clay pots usually have only one drainage hole and must be crocked in the base with shards from a broken pot, whereas plastic pots have several holes and are free-draining. Typically, a pot is as deep as it is round. Pot sizes range in diameter from 4 cm to 38cm. This measurement is made across the top of the pot, inside the rim. The usual sizes needed for most houseplants are from 7.5cm up to 25cm.

If you want to place the plant in a decorative container(wood, metal or ceramic) with no drainage hole, it is best to stand the pot inside, rather than plant directly into the container. If you do pot up plants in a non-draining container, put a layer of gravel or charcoal in the base before adding the compost. Line a metal container with plastic, as some metals affect the roots of plants. You can use non-waterproof outer containers -- for example, baskets. Hanging baskets are popular for trailing plants. Mesh baskets must be lined with plastic hanging pots, which are also available separately.

There are two basic types of potting mixture. The first type is soil, which are loam-based composts. The second type is soil-less mixtures, largely consisting of peat. It is easy to tell which compost the plant is in when you buy it -- peat composts are dark brown and crumbly, loamy soil is lighter in colour and more gritty. Peat-based composts are light and clean, but they dry out quickly and give less weight in the pot to balance a tall stem or spreading foliage. Proprietary brand composts are sterilized and contain special nutrients. Never pot plants in garden soil, as this is not sufficiently nutritious and may harbour all sorts of weeds, pests and diseases.

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