Plastic jars: pros and cons of using them
Plastic pots, clay pots, metal pots or wooden crates: which are the best and most suitable containers for growing and growing a plant? For centuries most of the plants were cultivated in terracotta pots: only in the late 1950s, in fact, did plastic jars appear, which gradually, over time, have spread more and more. . It is sufficient to note that today almost all the available seedlings in garden centers or in supermarkets are contained within plastic pots, while only a few specialized shops offer crock or terracotta pots. The main reason is soon said: plastic, as you can easily guess, costs much less. On the other hand, it is good to specify that each material has advantages and disadvantages, and therefore the final choice will depend essentially on which aspect (aesthetic, practical or economic) it is intended to privilege.
Comparison with terracotta
For example, it is a common opinion that, from the point of view of visual and aesthetic impact, terracotta pots are better, and more attractive, than the trivial plastic containers (without forgetting that the color of terracotta fits without problems to any type of plant species); moreover, they are characterized by a greater porosity of the walls, which makes the water evaporate more easily. From a practical point of view, and the needs expressed by plants, this peculiarity has different consequences: first of all, a plant in a terracotta pot needs to be watered more often, precisely because water tends to evaporate with a certain ease; but it also needs to be fertilized more frequently, as the water evaporates and carries with it various nutrients. Thus, a seedling placed in a plastic pot will save time (it needs less care, less irrigation and less soil enrichment) and money (considering the price of fertilizers). The opposite side of the coin is that the porous walls of terracotta allow the soil to be oxygenated more easily (which is not the case with plastic vessels) but above all, thanks to the evaporation of water, they reduce the risk of water stagnation (and consequently to determine an excessive level of humidity), which often causes potentially harmful rots.
Plastic costs less
Plastic jars, on the other hand, have other advantages: they cost less, and therefore are ideal for those species that develop considerably over the years, requiring rather frequent repotting; moreover, they are decidedly less fragile. It is sufficient to drop an earthenware pot and a plastic vase on the ground to notice the difference: the first will end up in a thousand pieces, the second will resist the impact without problems. For its part, plastic is also appreciated for another fundamental characteristic: it is light but resistant at the same time, which makes it suitable to be handled, transported and moved from one side to the other without difficulty. So, if we are going to grow plants that suffer from the harsh temperatures of winter and that with the approach of the cold season they need to be brought home, the choice of plastic pots it will allow us to save a lot of effort. Specifically, the containers in polythene, rubbery and soft, are chosen more and more frequently by nurserymen, precisely because of their easy handling.
Regardless of the type of material that is used, in any case, it is good to remember their differences: in short, a plant placed in a plastic vase cannot be watered like the same plant placed in a terracotta vase, or risks to drown". Furthermore, soil mixtures must be adapted: a plastic container requires, in fact, a lighter soil, which is able to dry more quickly. Regardless of the reported differences, however, it must be said that most plants live without problems and grow luxuriantly both in plastic pots and in terracotta pots, provided that they can ensure an excellent drainage (and consequently the outflow of the water).
Plastic vases: the repottings and the importance of the dimensions
Finally, we must pay close attention to the size of the vessels that are used. If it is true, in fact, that a vase that is too small risks jeopardizing the natural expansion of the root apparatus, it is equally true that we must not exaggerate in the opposite sense, since the use of an excessively large vase would damage the roots, whose activity may be insufficient to absorb and exploit all the water present in such a large amount of land. Having said that the number located on the bottom of the container indicates the diameter of the inner upper edge, therefore, it is good to specify that the replacement of the vessels must take place with cadences and frequencies that vary from species to species. The plants, however, know how to send signals, for example, making the roots emerge from the drainage holes or on the surface: if we notice one of these two details, it means that the time has come to proceed with the repotting, using a container of dimensions slightly larger.