It’s spring and time to repot your potted plants. But how do you choose which is better: plastic or clay?
Actually, this depends on the properties of each and how that makes them more suitable for a certain kind of plant, as well as a few practical considerations.
This article is about the growing pot, in which the plant is planted, not the ornamental outer pot.
Clay pots are porous, plastic pots not at all.
This means that in clay pots part of the water will go through the pot wall and evaporate. In plastic pots, the water evaporates not at all through the pot wall.
Plants in a clay pot will have to be irrigated more frequently to compensate for this evaporation.
This makes clay pots very suitable for cacti and succulent plants that can resist drought. In plastic pots, there is a greater risk that the soil stays too wet at the bottom of the pot and the roots rot.
Plastic pots are easier to clean: water with some dish washing liquid, rub with a sponge and your pot is as good as new.
To clean a clay pot, some elbow grease is required: a lot of water and a stiff brush to scrub off the mineral deposits.
Both clay and plastic pots are reusable.
The only condition is that they are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected so that no bacteria or fungi remain from the previous plant.
Disinfecting a plant pot is done by adding a dash of dish wash liquid or vinegar to the water.
Then rinse well with clean water.
Clay pots must be left to soak overnight in a bucket of clean water.
Dish washing liquid is harmless to the plant.
Plastic pots are generally less fragile than clay pots, so they can be used and reused longer.
Fragments of a broken clay pot must not be thrown away: they can serve as a drainage layer for your next repottings.
Plastic pots are lighter than clay pots.
If you have a fairly large plant, a clay pot can make it difficult to move the plant.
I also find it a quite difficult to store clay pots for the winter: they are quite heavy to place on top of a rack and take up more space while plastic pots usually fit neatly together.
Depending on the plant:
Cacti and succulents that you do not want to lose by overwatering, fare better in a clay pot.
Marsh or pond plants are better grown in a plastic pot.
Whether you use plastic or clay is a personal preference.
If you prefer pots that are easy to clean, light, not fragile… go for plastic.
If you want pots that require more work but are beautiful or have cacti and succulents, go for a clay pot.