Long toms

Jane McGary janemcgary@earthlink.net
Sat, 15 Sep 2018 10:43:20 PDT
The pots with "a cross at the bottom to support the compost" David 
Pilling described are called "band pots" in the USA. They're intended to 
be held in deep grid-bottom flats (trays) (called "prop[agation] flats), 
but if the pots are going to be handled and sold individually, growers 
often cut squares of window screening to hold the compost in. You can 
get many sizes (both height and width) from nursery supply companies, 
but you have to buy in quantity. They are good for young bulbs. I don't 
use many myself because I move my pots around so much and don't want to 
fuss with cutting the screens for the base; I use 3.5-inch plastic pots 
with 8 drainage holes (bottom and side) manufactured by the Anderson 
company. There are a couple of manufacturers of plastic pots in my area. 
Many other kinds of pots can be bought here, including very large ones 
with a very open grid intended for growing young trees in the field -- 
they can be root pruned and lifted when ready to sell. You could line 
them with woven groundcloth if you wanted a very free-draining 
free-standing pot. Now that hydroponic growing of cannabis is so 
popular, suppliers stock various sizes of plastic mesh pots, but most of 
them have too large a mesh to keep young bulbs from growing out, but I 
did find some useful 6-inch ones at one store. I've preferred mesh pots 
for years for growing geophytes that produce extensive annual roots, 
such as some irises.

That discussion is probably as annoying to people in other parts of the 
country as Northwesterners' frequent mention of ground pumice as a 
growing medium.

Potter Stan Gibson has made some very attractive "long toms" (tall 
cylindrical pots), and I have a few; one of them hosts Lewisia tweedyi, 
for instance. I also have a couple of terracotta long toms that were 
custom-made for Rae Selling Berry, a great gardener and primrose 
enthusiast of the previous age, but they're probably too fragile to be 
anything but collector's items. Such pots were the choice since 
Victorian times for growing alpines with deep-delving roots. When you 
have to accommodate the root extension of a delicate plant, you can 
knock out the bottom of its clay pot and set it into a larger, deeper 
pot without disturbing the root system; I have a Daphne growing that 
way, and it's getting too heavy.

Jane McGary, Portland, Oregon, USA

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