Clover Corner

Sunday, May 6, 2018
Amy Forrette, Clay County Associate Director of Youth Programming

The warm weather and sunshine makes us all antsy to plant our flowers and garden. Today I have a guest writer, Beth Ellen Doran, who is a Beef Specialist and Master Gartner with Iowa State University Extension and Outreach discussing how to ‘Select the Perfect Pot.’

If you think this article is about marijuana, I’m at a loss on the subject! But, I can share things to consider when selecting a container for your flowers and vegetables.

Does the pot have adequate drainage? Some pots come with drainage holes; others may require drilling three to four holes in the bottom. When I tried to grow a tomato plant in a 5-gallon bucket with no drainage holes, the plant literally drowned.

On the subject of drainage, there are big differences between clay pots and plastic pots. Because of the porosity of clay, a clay pot provides excellent moisture and air movement. But, it tends to dry out more rapidly than plastic pots, requiring more frequent watering of the plants. From experience, I learned the soil in a clay pot should be removed late fall, with the pot stored inside, to prevent cracking of the container.

Size of the pot is determined by two things – the plant(s) to be placed in the pot and weight which includes the container, soil, plants and moisture. If the container is large and heavy, consider purchasing a dolly to move the container around. However, heavier containers are more stable when it is windy.

Containers come in a variety of materials – plastic, clay, ceramic or wood – and a variety of material combinations, such as wicker exterior with a plastic interior. The materials affect maintenance, durability, and price of the pot. Wooden containers weather more easily; whereas, plastic pots may fade and become brittle. Ceramic pots can crack over time and break easily if accidentally dropped.

Color of the container is important. Dark-colored containers absorb more sunlight and are hotter. This is a disadvantage in the summer, but an advantage in fall. Also, consider the color of the surroundings where the plant is to be placed. A good colored container will enhance the plants and blend into the background. Remember, the spotlight should be on the plant – not the pot.

Last, don’t be misled by cost of the container. I have seen some most unique containers – worn-out cowboy boots, old metal buckets and ringer washing machines. For those who live on a farm, scout out old farm equipment. For example, hog pans are great containers for growing moss roses and an old swing is a great structure for hanging flower pots. Be creative and have fun!