Clay vs plastic

Leo A. Martin
Tue, 04 Oct 2011 15:15:36 PDT
This question is so dependent on one's growing conditions that there can't
be hard and fast rules.

Here in Phoenix, Arizona, with low humidty, high temperatures, and water
with high pH and high amounts of dissolved minerals, clay does not work
well at all. Even large pots dry out too rapidly for me to keep up with.

And, the salt from the water accumulates everywhere, damaging the roots
where they touch it. Because of salt accumulation, pot rims and edges of
drain holes start dissolving in 2-3 years and within 5 years most clay
pots disintegrate and fall apart. When I get a plant in a clay pot I repot
it at once, and use the clay pot for a plant I'm going to give away to
somebody else.

I have to be quite careful of sunshine on plastic. It certainly heats up
and can damage roots, even in winter, but I do much better with plastic
containers than with clay.

I suppose in a high-humidity, acid-water region clay would be just fine.
And it works wonderfully for damp soil plunging.

I think Berkeley has fairly salty water and low humidity despite being on
San Francisco Bay, so I would expect plastic to perform better for Paul's
cactus and succulents.

Leo Martin
Phoenix Arizona USA

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