The use of containers in the cultivation of plants allows us to plant all kinds of species without worrying about whether the land in our environment has a certain pH, CE, organic matter content, etc., and those who do not have the possibility of accessing a land allows them to develop normally any crop cycle of any plant. It also allows us to locate the plants to our liking, combining species, colors, sizes, and allowing us to vary the planning of a garden in minutes.
The choice of one or another container will depend on our tastes, but we must not forget thatit must meet certain requirements:
- Itmust have enough capacity to contain the necessary substrate for our plants.
- It must have a drainage system that allows us to easily eliminate excess water from irrigation.
- It must have stability. If it overturns or breaks easily it can marry damage to plants.
I will describe the different types of materials that we can use as containers for our plants:
- The Mud or terracotta. This is the name given to the clay modeled and hardened by baking in the oven. Mud is a porous material so the evaporation of water is much greater than with other materials. This is an advantage with plants that require a fresh root in summer and / or require watering very frequently since the water when evaporating needs heat and this takes it out of the substrate, cooling it and preventing it from overheating, with the consequent danger to the root. On the other hand, a greater evaporation of water will prevent root stagnations and allows us to use substrates that retain more water; if we use less retentive substrates we must be attentive to avoid excessive desiccation. Being a dense material, they give some extra weight to the set with which we gain in stability and avoid overturns, but it will cost us more to move them from one side to another. They are fragile and can be easily broken or chipped; Toavoid this once purchased we will immerse it 24 hours in cold water and let it dry in the open air, in order to strengthen the material and that the pot lasts longer. These pots tend to discolor over time and white spots to come out; this is solved by giving them flaxseed oil. Many times we wonder why old pots last longer than the ones we are buying lately. This is because the clay that is used today is more filtered than the one that was used before, which causes it to be less resistant to temperature variations and have a greater capacity to absorb water, which when frozen, bursts.
- Glazed ceramics. It is nothing more than the fusion of clay with powdered glass. Apart from the aesthetic, it differs from classic terracotta in that it is less porous.
- Plastic. They are made of PVC, synthetic resins or a mixture of polyethylene and polypropylene and do not break due to low temperatures. They are manufactured in almost any color and their design can be smooth, textured or embossed, as well as glossy or matte. This material is used to simulate other materials so sometimes we can think that it is a second-rate material, but it is not so; it is a light material so we can use it in hanging locations, balconies and shelves, where a heavier material has no place. It is not a porous material so the water is not lost by lateral evaporation which helps us to reduce the frequency of irrigation in plants with large water needs. On the other hand, it allows us to use less retentive substrates.
Another variant is the culture bags made of flexible sheets and filled with substrate. They are not aesthetic at all, but they fulfill their function, especially in the cultivation of horticultural crops.
- Wood. It is a material that is coming back strongly due to vintage trends. Here we must distinguish between hardwood and softwood: hardwood is that which comes from a tree belonging to the family of angiosperms (plants provided with flowers that produce seeds enclosed in a fruit). Softwood is that which comes from a tree belonging to the family of gymnosperms (plants with seeds whose eggs and seeds do not form in closed cavities). The difference between one and the other is that the trees belonging to the angiosperms have a much slower growth so their wood is denser and more durable since it needs more time to grow and reach a certain volume, but also moreexpensive. Among these trees we find thea rce, balsa wood, oak and elm.
Most of the pro softwood comes from the coniferous family, such as pines, cypresses, firs, cedars, yews and larches. Softwood is very common, (in fact, it is 80% of the wood we use), but it is of lower quality, since it has less useful life, does not last as long as hard, requires more care and is easily damaged.
To prolong the useful life of the wood we have several options:
- We will apply a protective product before use, but we will make sure that it has any toxicity to our plants.
- We can line them with plastic inside.
- We can also use them to introduce another type of pot (plastic, mud, etc.) and prevent the substrate from being directly in contact with the wood.
- The stone.
They can be made of natural or reconstructed stone. In natural stone the most used material is granite because itis resistant to compression, bending, impact and of course wear, which makes it on its own merits one of the best options if what we are looking for is an outdoor and robust planter. It is a very decorative material but very heavy.
Natural stone is just as decorative but less heavy and less expensive. Currentlythe quality standards are much higher and the manufacturing processes and materials used in this type of planters have nothing to envy to their natural stone counterparts.
Both natural and artificial stone are poorly porous materials.