Friday, November 4, 2011

how to pick a good pot for your plant or tree

When I first got my plants I had no idea what size pots to get for them. I knew that when they were shipped to me they were most likely in 2-4 inch pots. So I did my research and aside from finding out what kind of soils to use (that will be in another post) I tried to figure out what kinds of pots to use.

There are many types of pots out there from rounded, square, terracotta, plastic, bio-degradable, hanging, raised bed types and more.

When you are growing fruit plants or trees you want to take into consideration how their roots develop, how quickly the plant grows and their watering needs. And I forgot, portability.

I will only write on here what I know from experience and from what I have read.

Banana plants:
When they are young a 10 inch pot is good.
They require good drainage so make sure you have a pot with holes on the bottom.
Plastic is good as these size pots or larger start to get pretty heavy.
Also if you live in a cold climate you may have to "overwinter" your bananas and moving a plastic pot is much easier than a ceramic pot.
This plant requires watering every other day during the warm seasons and once a week or so in the winter.
When the plant outgrows this pot place it in a 3 or 5 gallon pot.
They can easily live their whole life in a 5 gallon pot. (This would be perfect for a dwarf variety.)
Full size banana plants, which need to be potted, will do well in a 10 gallon pot.
Fertilize these once a week only during the warmer seasons.

These like to spread so if you place them in a wide pot they will do well.
Their roots don't grow all that deep so a 5 inch deep pot and a minimum of 7 inches across is a good start.
Once they grow larger you can move to a 12 inch pot or wider. They will grow runners which you can then place in those in the original pot.
There are strawberry pots as well that you can buy which are very heavy, but allow you to grow multiple plants on different levels from the same pot.
This plant also requires well drained soil so make sure the pot has holes on the bottom.
Make sure to water frequently and even more when they are fruiting.
If it is colder make sure not to spray the leaves as they may grow mold.
Fertilize once a week when the plant is growing and use sulfur to lower the PH level of the soil.
If the PH is too high the plant will have trouble growing fruit.

These plants prefer a little room so you can start with a 10 inch pot or wider. These will grow up and will later fill out like a bush. I am growing a dwarf variety and I'm told they can live their whole lives in a 12 inch wide pot.
These also require good drainage and watering almost every other day.
These have very nice green leafs that later change to a bright red in the fall.

These can be grow in 12 inch pots or 3 gallon pots and do very well.
Although they do like to be snug in pots it is ok to start them off in a larger pot.
When they are very young they will work on establishing their roots and then start growing upwards.
So at first they grow very slowly and once established they tend to grow pretty quickly.
Make sure the pot used has holes as they don't like to have wet feet.
Fertilize these once a week to help them grow.

Citrus Trees (Dwarf Variety):
These, like the Fig tree, can start in 12 inch pots or larger.
Many have been known to full develop and live out their existence in 3 to 5 gallon pots.
They need good drainage and would be best in plastic pots as they can get heavy.
If you're weather is fairly mild you can place in terracotta pots as they are more decorative and breathe better. This is the same for the fig tree.
Fertilize these once a week to help them to grow.

So from my experience plastic pots have worked well for me as they are generally cheaper and lighter. Once you get to larger ones it is also a good idea to use buckets. These are fairly cheap as well and can be found everywhere. As these are somewhat deep I probably would not recommend them for strawberries but bananas and citrus trees would do well in them. Just make sure to drill holes on the bottom of the containers.

Also, if you are going to be putting pots outdoors for long periods of time try not to use clear plastic or black plastic pots. These will overheat the dirt and root areas which is not good for the plant.  And of course, over time, buying lots of soil to put in pots will start to add up, so when possible place your plant or tree in your yard. All they will need is some good water and some fertilizer. Keep a look out for pests and you'll be fine.

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