Plantable Pots — Great Idea That Just Doesn’t Work

September 21, 2011 | By | Comments (13)

You all know Grumpy to be the most concerned and committed environmentalist of all. Why, he’s even stopped burning garbage in the back yard. So when several of the major wholesaler growers of flower and vegetable plants introduced “plantable pots” — non-plastic pots you could stick in the ground along with the plant and reduce trash sent to the landfill — Grumpy was giddy. Woo-hoo!!! The planet is saved because we will need less companies like: Eagle Dumpster Rental

Plantable pot1

So I tried them. And there was one itsy-bitsy problem. They don’t work as advertised.

How They Are Supposed to Work

Plantable pots are made from natural, organic materials such as fiber or peat that gradually decompose.The theory is that by planting your flower or vegetable plant pot and all, you won’t disturb the roots while planting. Plus, the pot itself will gradually disintegrate during the growing season and turn into soil itself.

If only. May I present exhibit A?

Plantable pot2

This is the same Dragon Wing begonia in a SoilWrap plantable pot that is pictured above. After 6 months in the ground in an Alabama climate that combines high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall — the perfect storm for decomposition — most of the pot is still intact. Note how no roots have penetrated the sides of the pot, but instead penetrate from the bottom of the pot that was left open.

I thought this would happen, so I planted a few Dragon Wing begonias in their plantable pots and several that I removed from the pots. In each case, the begonia removed from the pot before planting grew bigger and better. Well, of course. Its roots could grow sideways as well as down, while those in the pots couldn’t.

Grumpy’s Recommendation

If you buy flower or vegetable plants in plantable pots this fall, remove the pots before planting. Your plants will do better. Then compost the plantable pots instead of throwing them out with the trash. It’s a win-win situation.

Follow-Up!

I just heard from Ball Horticultural Company, the makers of the SoilWrap Plantable Pots. (It’s amazing how fast you get a call once you say something negative about a product!) Anyway, they said they understood my concerns and that some plants, such as begonias, are less aggressive about rooting through the sides of the pots than others (such as bamboo, I guess). So the next generation of plantable pots from them will feature a dozen small, open flaps around the sides, so that roots can grow out laterally.

Oh, the power Grumpy has! The power!!!!

COMMENTS

  1. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Ball Hort just came out with an improved plantable pot, so we’ll see. I still prefer to take off the pot and compost it.

    April 30, 2012 at 7:40 am
  2. jason

    here’s an idea, ball horticultural…. STOP WITH THE BAD IDEA. I had the same thoughts as you when i saw this. I did the same test and got the same results. PEOPLE- YOUR ROOTS MUST MOVE!!!!!

    April 27, 2012 at 10:34 am
  3. BeckyM

    I agree with Grumpy. I have found–to my dismay–that the so-called plantable pots seem to be largely intact at the end of the growing season, to the detriment of the poor plant. I finally started removing the plants from them before planting.I hesitated to throw the pots on the compost pile–they seemd pretty tough. A better idea for those who are economy and ecology-minded is the video on e-how about making seed-starter pots from newspaper. Cool idea! We use all our old Wall Street Journals in our garden (after I checked and made sure they use soy-based ink). Great weed screen, compost, etc.

    October 4, 2011 at 8:54 pm
  4. Mac

    Hah! I knew it! I planted some golfball pittosporums. It turned out they had been transferred into a larger plastic pot and I only discovered the original plantable pots later when they started lifting up out of the ground and the edges of the plantable pots became visible. Despite the obvious root growth the foliage looked stunted and sickly. Since I dug them up and removed the plantable pots they’re doing much better.

    September 24, 2011 at 2:20 am
  5. UrsulaV

    This is good to know! I’ve also noticed that the peat “Plant the pot!” pots from Bonnies are usually still solidly intact by the end of summer, and have taken to stripping them off completely instead of just removing the bottoms as recommended. Good to know you’re getting some response from the company, too!

    September 22, 2011 at 5:23 pm
  6. Grumpy Gardener (His Magnificence)

    Good tip, Donna!

    September 22, 2011 at 4:04 pm
  7. Donna

    The nursery grower I work with always cuts or slices the sides of the peat pots before planting and always has. Seems to work because roots have the freedom to roam and the peat decomposes. Good you got the company to at least add the flaps.

    September 21, 2011 at 8:38 pm
  8. Nora

    I too had noticed the problems with the plantable pots. I read Geri’s comment about Greensleeves, and believe 60 days is still too long for a pot to disappear.

    September 20, 2011 at 11:43 pm
  9. Geri Laufer

    Hi Grumpy! Dr. Allan Armitage uses plant-able pots in the UGA trial gardens and endorses them because the brand called Greensleeves(TM) are made of paper and they disappear in 60 days or less.
    I mainly agree with you and I remove all peat pots and all plastic wraps, but Greensleeves don’t have any of that. You might contact Mobley Plant Farm in GA and give them a try.

    September 20, 2011 at 8:09 am
  10. Traci

    I’m glad you wrote this. I tried those pots with a bunch of Scarlett Runners, and they failed miserably. I wondered if I had done something to them inadvertently. But when I pulled them up, the pots were completely intact. An egg carton would have done just as well for starting the seeds, for a lot less cash.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm
  11. Traci

    I’m glad you wrote this. I tried those pots with a bunch of Scarlett Runners, and they failed miserably. I wondered if I had done something to them inadvertently. But when I pulled them up, the pots were completely intact. An egg carton would have done just as well for starting the seeds, for a lot less cash.

    September 19, 2011 at 8:52 pm
  12. Grumpy Gardener (His Benevolence)

    Great minds think alike.

    September 19, 2011 at 10:13 am
  13. LaurieGo

    I found the same thing and ended up doing the same thing, composting the pots.

    September 19, 2011 at 2:45 am

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s