Pots and Containers
If you’re growing plants indoors you’ll need to decide what to grow them in. In this article we won’t deal with hydroponic or aquaponic specific containers, just ones that you’ll need to use with soil. There are actually quite a few options in material, size and shape, so which should you choose?
Plastic or Clay/Porcelain?
Clay and porcelain pots look nicer, there is not doubt they can make your grow area more attractive. Another added benefit to these types of containers are that they allow some air to circulate which is a bonus if your soil doesn’t have anything to aerate it.
Plastic pots might not be as ascetically pleasing, but they make up for it in many other ways. They are cheaper of course, and you can frequently get them for free or reuse them from previously purchased plants. They often have water trays built in that either snap or screw in. You’ll definitely need a tray on the bottom to catch the extra water, because you need holes in the bottom of your pots to allow the excess water to drain out. Some clay pots you purchase don’t have any, and so you’ll have to take the time to drill them and then find a tray that fits. Plastic pots are also lighter in case you are moving them around and they are flexible and bendable. This is important when you are checking on the roots or transplanting to another pot, because it can be difficult to break apart the roots and the soil from the heavier clay pot. If you do go with plastic containers, make sure your soil has something that allows for good drainage and air flow.
Other options include self watering containers and hanging containers. Self watering containers save you some time by having self watering reservoirs that give your plants water when they need it. Hanging containers allow you to make the most of your grow area by growing on different levels if you don’t have shelves, but you have to make sure you have a good drip tray to catch the water that for sure will spill during watering. And of course you could always just use whatever you have laying around to grow in, such as cups, milk jugs, coffee cans, an old shoe etc. You just have to be sure they weren’t used to hold anything with dangerous chemicals and that they have holes for the water to drain out.
After you’ve decided what you’d like to grow in, the next step is to determine the container size. You don’t want the pot to be too small for the plant because this can cause the plant to grow slower and smaller, but you don’t want it to be too big because it will hold too much water, making it not an ideal location for your roots. You basically want it to be the smallest container possible that will still contain your root system, but it is better to error slightly larger than smaller.
You’ll have to check your root system periodically by pulling out the entire plant to have a look. Plastic containers are more suited for this purposed as we mentioned earlier. If the roots are growing all around the edges of the pot its time for a change to a larger pot or you’ll have to cut back the roots a little bit. Don’t let it continue too long in this condition, otherwise when you do transplant it, the roots will continue to grow in the ball shape, even if it finally has larger space, which will minimize it ability to extract nutrition from the soil.