Pot luck : pick your pot

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Try this at home
Add personality to your space with the perfect planter  

By Yvonne Cunnington
First published in Chatelaine May 2003 issue.
© Yvonne Cunnington

Pick your pot

  Advantages Disadvantages Price*
Terra cotta A classic material; porous, which allows more oxygen to penetrate to roots Heavy; easily chipped and broken; dries out quickly; most are not frost-proof (store indoors in winter) $–$$$
Glazed ceramic Porous; available in many attractive colours Heavy; breakable; not frost-proof (store indoors in winter) $–$$$
Plastic (simulated terra cotta or stone) Light; easy to move; doesn’t chip or break; frost-proof Not porous, so good drainage is essential; raise on blocks so drain holes aren’t obstructed; can fade and crack in sunlight $–$$
Moulded polyethylene Light; easy to move; doesn’t chip or break; frost-proof Not porous, so good drainage is essential; raise on blocks so drain holes aren’t obstructed $$$
* $ = less than $30
  $$ = $30 to $75
  $$$ = $75 to $300


Getting started 

1. Use potting mix, not garden soil, for containers.
2. Assemble everything you need -plants, containers, potting mix, fertilizer, trowel–and work close to an outdoor faucet.
3. Before you fill your pots, place a piece of broken pottery or a small stone over drainage holes to prevent potting mix from leaking out. In large deep containers, set a plastic nursery pot upside down on the bottom to reduce volume and save on potting mix.
4. Fill each container three-quarters full with moist potting mix, keeping the mix fluffy.
5. Remove plants from nursery pots, making sure they’ve been well watered. Gently tease roots apart if matted and place inside container. Fill gaps between plants, gently firming potting mix. Avoid packing potting mix to container rim; leave five centimetres of space as reservoir for easier watering.
6. Leave room for growth. A pot 30 to 38 centimetres in diameter supports one to three plants, depending on eventual size; a container double that size can hold five or seven plants.
7. Mix slow-release fertilizer pellets following package directions into top layer of potting mix. As you water, controlled amounts of fertilizer are released each time.
8. Water plants generously and check pots daily to ensure the potting mix is moist.
9. Pots that are not frost-proof should be emptied of their potting mix and stored in a basement or garage over winter.

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