Draining vs non-draining pots

Discussion in 'HortForum' started by kozg101, Feb 2, 2008.

  1. kozg101

    kozg101 Member

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    Should some plants only be planted in pots that have a drain hole, or is there not much of a difference if you are careful with watering? All of my plants are in non-draining pots except the Areca Palm's.

    I've got the following plants:
    2 x Areca Palm
    Ponytail Palm
    Rubber Plant
    Aloe
    Bird's Nest (Snake Plant)

    Should a Layer of rocks or a piece of broken pot lay over the drain hole to keep it from clogging?

    Thanks!
    Kevin
     
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2008
  2. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    Kevin, all my plants are in draining pots. Personally I don't see the point of non-draining pots, unless you were growing "bog" type plants. The plants you mentioned, should be in draining pots IMHO...

    Ed
     
  3. natureman

    natureman Active Member

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    Yeah, exaclty as edleigh7 said. If you don't have drainage holes, and water accumulates in the bottom, that's a wonderful place for bacteria and molds to thrive, and your roots will rot (if it's not a bog like plant). That's never a good thing :)
     
  4. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Kevin, the general rule would be exactly as Ed and Natureman noted. Tropical plants almost never grow in muddy soil unless they live on the edge of a swamp. None of the plants you name qualify for a "bog". Many soil mixes you buy commercially hold too much water and were created that way since the majority of people forget to water. But if you want those plants to prosper, give them a soil that is very porous and a pot that allows the water to simply flow through and out the bottom. Many of us mix our own soil mixes based on what plant we are going to grow. But it is always a good idea with tropical plants to keep the soil on the airy side, never muddy. And an extra layer of pebbles at the bottom of the pot is a good idea even if you use a pot with drain holes. I mix orchid potting bark with charcoal and gravel plus Perlite into all my soil mixes. Promise, your plants will reward you if you give them what they seek in nature.
     
  5. Laughing Dog

    Laughing Dog Active Member

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    I learned the hard way that all the above advice is absolutely true ... lost a few good plants due to rot and stagnation. Now as a rule of thumb I always use a draining container PLUS a bottom layer of drain material such as pebbles/rocks. I have also started using a moisture retaining additive mixed in with the soil for my outdoor containers - particularly for the roses - as it is immensely helpful during the hot, dry summer season.
     
  6. Sabine

    Sabine Active Member

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    It seems like the only reason to have a non-draining pot is if you are going to use it for purely decorative reasons, like placing a draining plastic or other unattractive pot inside.
     
  7. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Myth: Adding Coarse Material Improves Container Drainage (.pdf).
     
  8. natureman

    natureman Active Member

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    Oh wow! I've always wondered about that! Never knew it was a myth 'till now! :D
     
  9. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    Interesting. I guess I'll have to go explain it to all my plants that they really aren't growing as well as they appear to be growing in that porous soil that really is non-draining soil because there is rocks in the bottom of the pot.
     

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    Last edited: Feb 3, 2008
  10. KarinL

    KarinL Well-Known Member 10 Years

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    At the same time maybe you could explain to the OP, Kozg101, that his plants aren't actually surviving either. Poor deluded plants.
     
  11. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    It was not my intent to offend anyone. I hope that wasn't the case.

    photopro, Perhaps your success can be attributed to something other than the coarse material at the bottom. Its negative consequence of raising the perched water table could be offset by the use of a taller container which has the opposite effect of lowering the perched level. The use of an extra porous medium which you are using could also mask the problem.

    A detailed explanation can be found in this (.pdf) document under the section titled Container Drainage. (The link appears to be broken. A cached version is available from Google.)
     
  12. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    I've proved the opposite to that link. When I started growing orchids I had them in soil and wondered why they died from root rot. I then learned to try an open orchid mix of bark etc. Wallah!! They survived and thrived.
    I know text has no emotion, and I'm not having a go at you Junglekeeper, but my observations seem to disprove her scientific discovery. An interesting article, but I will just plod along with the way that has flourished for me, mate. : )

    Ed
     
  13. Junglekeeper

    Junglekeeper Esteemed Contributor 10 Years

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    Hi, Ed. I am in total agreement with your observations regarding the use of a porous medium to alleviate root rot as is the author of the second article. However the author of the 'myth' article is referring to the use of coarse material as a layer at the bottom of a container which is something different. The second article deals with both issues and how they affect drainage.
     
  14. edleigh7

    edleigh7 Well-Known Member

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    To be honest Jk I didn't read the 2nd article, however I still disagree with the first article as I have used a layer of coarse material at the bottom of certain plants, mostly succulents etc, but also mix sand and pebbles through that mix as well and just the bottom layer is pebbles. I have found it more successful than not having a bottom layer at all. Just my observations, mate : )

    Ed
     
  15. photopro

    photopro Well-Known Member

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    I believe success with any species is far more related to the overall growing conditions needed by the species in the natural condition. I do my best to achieve those conditions with the tropical species I grow, i.e., are they epiphytic, hemiephiphythic, need high humidity, need to climb, etc. There is no "magic? way to grow plants. Besides, I've had people on this board tell me the soil mixes I prefer will kill my plants and some have been in it for 20 years.

    But I can't believe pots that don't drain are good for anything other than plants that naturally prefer to grow in a swamp. However, anyone is certainly welcome to grow their plants any way they choose.

    The ultimate judge of success is the beauty of of the individual specimen and the success of reproduction. So, I guess my plants are just "Poor deluded plants." Strange how I've met scientists who can't grow a thing!
     
  16. natureman

    natureman Active Member

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    Amen!
     
  17. kozg101

    kozg101 Member

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    Thanks for the information. This was quite a charged subject!

    I'll definitely make sure my Moon cactus and Areca palms are in draining pots.
    I'll try my Purple Passion plant in a non-draining hanging pot, since it likes constantly moist soil and it's inside.

    K.
     

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