Question: Terra cotta pots vrs plastic nursery pots

Ron Dennis

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Living in a town home on the side of a mountain, I have limited space for my bonsai. I am trying to figure out how to put in a bed where I can grow in the ground but have not come up with a workable plan--yet. I do have my contractor working on a plan but nothing yet due to the major drop off of the mountain.

I have multiple small trees, kotohime, tridents, hawthorns, ginkos, etc, that I would like to let grow. I have thought of putting these trees into terra cotta because I like the look better than the plastic nursery pots and these would be on my deck overlooking the mountain drop off. I know terra cotta has issues in the winter but it might be worth it.

Thoughs and suggestions please. :confused:
 

cmeg1

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Terra-cotta are definately more attractive.I have went through a lot with my sempervivums.It seems they last about three years when layers start to peel off the bottom edges.Zone 6 winter,I keep the sempervivums out side all year.The pot's seem reliably available if you did notice one starting to peel,it would have to be exact same size though.If by chance you are overwintering by sinking pot in ground ,I would go plastic.I imagine Alabama is pretty warm,I would probally go terra-cotta if they were small and a few.If they are huge grow-out pots(which only lasted a year for me),I would go plastic.Maybe plastic all-together.You could makes it organized and professional looking with plastic pots and carry baskets or crates and definately be more transportable.
 
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Klytus

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I would use glazed pots and not terra-cotta,it's the colour and moisture sucking texture.

It also depends on the availability of glazed pots you can live with as many around these parts are far too gaudy,crude with thick walls,inturned rim,floral patterns,vaguely ethnic or in homage to the tastes of a landed gentry who required adornment of their follies and grottoes.
 

Eric Schrader

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I've always liked wooden boxes for growing trees. The material is more insulating. A good redwood or cedar fence piece can make a box that will last 5-6 years and you can do any shape you want.

I've never lived in a freezing climate but given that terra cotta readily absorbs water (I had one where it grew moss on the outside of the container) I'm sure they would shatter in a hard freeze.
 

Kirk

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Terra cotta will spall unless you find some nice high fired pots. Even then, I find that my high fired Italian pots (bulb pans) fall apart after a few years. You may consider the Tokoname terra cotta training pots. I've been using them for trees that are in training but close to being potted into their bonsai pots. They look great and have held up nicely.
Best,
Kirk
 

edprocoat

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I would use glazed pots and not terra-cotta,it's the colour and moisture sucking texture.

It also depends on the availability of glazed pots you can live with as many around these parts are far too gaudy,crude with thick walls,inturned rim,floral patterns,vaguely ethnic or in homage to the tastes of a landed gentry who required adornment of their follies and grottoes.

Huh, I wonder if the pink glazed and covered with polka dots terra cotta pot this old lady recently gave me falls under one of these categories?

ed
 

edprocoat

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There are these new blown plastic pots in stores like Home depot and lowes that are thicker walled than terra cotta, non absorbent, and look like terra cotta, they also come in some great colors like browns, tans and greens and of course the clay red. I have seen them in some obscene colors too! They seem very durable, I have a neighbor that put a fountain in a koi pond up home in ohio and the base that the fountain sprays out of is one of these pots in a muted green color, it has been outside with water running out of it and over it with the bottom partially submerged for four years now and I assume its been frozen in the winter moths at times too. They are lighter weight than terra cotta and heavier than nursery pots and much better looking too.

ed
 

treebeard55

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Something to look for, in whatever you use, is rigidity: a pot that's too flexible lets the soil shift, and that can break fine roots. That's why I've quit using plastic dishpans, for example, as grow pots.
 

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