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What is the difference between pots and planters?



May. 23, 2023
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There are differences between pots and planters. There are words that we get used to using interchangeably, but which actually have different meanings. Beyond becoming purist defenders of language, knowing precisely what each term expresses allows us to communicate more effectively. In the world of gardening we can fall into these ambiguities, a little out of ignorance and a little because it doesn't seem to matter, until we find that we have bought something and we receive something that is not exactly what we need.

What is the difference between pots and planters?

Pots Vs Planters

The difference is very simple, and if you do some research the RAE itself clears up the doubt. Pots are containers with drainage holes in the bottom, designed to contain substrate and plants. They are made of different materials: biodegradable, recycled, cement, wood and more, although plastic, clay or terracotta are the most popular. This variety of materials is not merely a question of aesthetics, as each plant should have a pot that suits its needs and allows it to grow to its full potential.

Pots are generally thought to be round, though square pots do exist. Planters tend to be long, narrow, and rectangular, though they are also made in round and square shapes. Hanging baskets and cones are considered planters, not pots.

Gardeners use the term “pot up” when referring to the process of transferring tiny seedlings into plastic, rectangular growing flats, but these flats are actually considered planters, not pots. Adding to the confusion are a great number of gardening catalogs, publications, and garden suppliers who use both “planters and pots” in their descriptions of similar products.

The drainage holes are the best feature to use to differentiate pots from planters, although garden supply companies often add a hole or plug to the bottom of pots to make them more versatile. A pot is not necessarily designed to hold a growing plant, hence the lack of holes, though it is common for gardeners to place a planter inside a pot. The holes in planters indicate that they are specially designated for growing plants. They also tend to have more plant-friendly shapes. Some planters even have self-watering capabilities, with built-in reservoirs designed to catch water and slowly disperse it to roots.

Steps to pot your plant

1. Remove plant from nursery grow pot

Turn your new plant sideways, hold it gently by the stems or leaves, and tap the bottom of its grow pot until the plant slides out. You might need to give it a bit of help with a couple gentle tugs on the base of the stems. If it’s very secure, you can also cut through the plastic grow pot with a pair of scissors.

2. Loosen the roots

Now that you’ve removed the grow pot, loosen the plant’s roots gently with your hands. You can prune off any threadlike roots that are extra long, just make sure to leave the thicker roots at the base of the foliage. If your plant is root bound – the roots are growing in very tight circles around the base of the plant – unbind the roots as best you can and give them a trim.

3. Remove some potting mix

Remove about one third or more of the potting mix currently surrounding the plant. As it grew in its grow pot, your plant removed some of the nutrients in the current mix, so you'll want to give it fresh mix if you're potting it anyway!

4. Add new potting mix

Pour a layer of fresh potting soil into the plant’s new planter and pack it down, removing any air pockets. If your planter does not have a drainage hole, layer the bottom with lava rocks or similar before adding the potting mix to create crevices for the extra water to pool into.

5. Add your plant

Set your plant that you removed from the grow pot on top of the fresh layer of mix in the new planter, making sure it's centered, then add potting mix around the plant until it is secure. Be sure not to pack too much soil into the planter, as you want the roots to breathe.

6. Water and enjoy

Even out the potting soil on top, water well, and enjoy!



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