February 5, 2014
Last week, I was telling you about potting soil. As I had said, you needed to know a few things about potting soil if you are re-potting your houseplants. When people re-pot their houseplants, many will use clay pots for re-potting their plants. Let me take a few moments to explain why clay pots can make your plants dry out faster and what you can do to prevent this from happening.
Clay pots have been made around the world for more years than I would care to guess. There is one manufacturer on the east coast that can’t keep up with the production of clay pots. Nice to know that there are things made in the USA that demand outpaces manufacturing ability.
The clay is formed into the shape of a pot. The pot is then dried in a kiln. The drying process gives the pot its stability and yet it also lets excess water leach out through the sides of the pot. This natural feature helps to temper the effect of over watering of your plants.
When you pick out a clay pot, you only want to go one size larger than the size of the pot that the plant current is calling home. If you jump to too large of a size, the soil around the root ball will remain wet and you run the risk of rotting the roots on the plant.
When you go to buy your clay pot, you want to make sure that the pot is not cracked. You can look at the pot and you may not see any cracks. Here is a little trick to check clay pots for cracks. Most clay pots will have a hole in the bottom of the pot. The hole allows for excess water to drain away. What you need to do is to pick up the pot and turn the pot upside down. Place a finger in the hole and hold the pot with just that finger. Take your other hand and give the side of the pot a quick tap. You should hear a ringing sound if the pot is not cracked. If the pot doesn’t ring than there is probably a crack in the pot.
I told you that clay pots could dry out the soil faster than other pots. The reason is that you didn’t prepare the pot for use as a home for your plant. What you need to do is to place the clay pot in some water. I usually add water to the kitchen sink. I will put about 2 inches of water in the sink. Place the clay pot on its side in the water. Soon you will notice small bubbles coming out of the clay. The pot is absorbing water. Once the bubbles slow, give the pot a quarter turn. You will continue to turn the pot each time the bubbles slow down. Eventually the pot will have been soaked all the way around the pot. Once this has happened, take the pot out of the sink and let it dry for a few moments. The pot is now ready for potting up of your plants. If you didn’t soak the pot, the clay pot would pull moisture out of the soil to get moisture into the clay. Soaking of the pot prevents the clay pot from prematurely drying out the soil.
Now you know how to use a clay pot to create a new home for your houseplants.
Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.