Plastic pots have been in use for decades. These classic nursery-style planters are cheap, effective, and relatively durable. However, fabric pots like the fan-favorite GeoPot are mounting a slow, environmentally friendly home and garden market takeover.
The best pots and planters for your garden will vary by person. Here’s a bare-roots guide to the most vital differences between fabric and plastic pots.
Plastic pot pros
These slow-to-degrade containers aren’t a staple for no reason. Some of the advantages of plastic pots include:
Plastic pots are very affordable. You can often find a one-gallon plastic pot for less than a dollar. Given the low cost, plastic pots are just some of the many ways you can build a garden on a budget.
Plastic pots are rigid and stiff, helping keep your medium supported and compact. You don’t have to worry about your plastic pot slumping as your plant grows bigger and heavier.
Plastic pots create a strong barrier for plant roots. You can expect roots to develop and grow downwards and reach out to form a sturdy root system. A plastic pot does not allow this uncontrolled spreading of roots outward and downward. Instead, your plant roots build a sturdy roots web wrapped and weaved around your medium.
Plastic pots cons
Below are the disadvantages of plastic pots:
Although the rigidness of these pots provides plants support, they can only be so supportive. When the plant grows bigger and gets heavier, it may result in the pot breaking or cracking.
Plastic pots are not breathable. Most pots feature holes at the bottom primarily for drainage. These tiny holes don’t do much to ensure the plant remains aerated all through.
Moving the plants can be difficult
Although this may seem a minor issue, moving plastic pots is difficult. Imagine moving one hundred potted plants, each in a five-gallon pot. What makes movement difficult is that plastic pots only have a lip at the top to allow you to grab them. When it’s time to migrate your plants indoors for winter, you may regret relying on these stationary planters.
Fabric pot pros
Sometimes, a little breathability is all it takes to bring your yield through the roof. Here are the advantages of fabric pots:
It’s not easy to overwater a plant in a fabric pot as excess water percolates through the potting material. As long as the grow bag features drainage holes at the bottom, it will drain the soil. But keep in mind the soil itself dictates drainage more than the pot.
Easier to move around
Unlike plastic pots, fabric pots feature handles you can use to lift them. These textile-based planters are also easy to store during the off-season as you can fold them up, taking up minimal storage space.
The fibers in grow bags allow air to pass through, thus aerating the whole pot. Additionally, this breathable fabric helps with temperature control. The soil warms quicker in the winter and cools faster in summer.
Healthier root system
Fabric pots encourage air pruning of roots instead of root circling. A regular-shaped root ball is healthier than circulating roots.
Fabric pots cons
Here are the disadvantages of fabric pots:
The main reason gardeners don’t use fabric pots is the high cost. A one-gallon fabric pot can cost up to two and a half times as much as a plastic pot of equal size.
Most manufacturers claim that fabric pots last about four years before needing replacement. A high-quality plastic pot lasts much longer. However, that durability might be a double-edged sword, as it makes plastic pots much less environmentally friendly.
Dry out faster
Fabric pots breathe better. These planters allow moisture to leave on all sides leading to soil drying out faster. If you grow plants in fabric pots, you’ll have to water them more frequently than you would a plastic pot.
Regardless of your choice, note that the suitable pot material for you depends on your garden situation. While plastics are studier and you’ll save on costs, fabric pots are of higher quality and more environmentally friendly.
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