You all know Grumpy to be the most concerned and committed environmentalist of all. Why, he's even stopped burning garbage in the back yard. So when several of the major wholesaler growers of flower and vegetable plants introduced "plantable pots" -- non-plastic pots you could stick in the ground along with the plant and reduce trash sent to the landfill -- Grumpy was giddy. Woo-hoo!!! The planet is saved because we will need less companies like: Eagle Dumpster Rental
So I tried them. And there was one itsy-bitsy problem. They don't work as advertised.
How They Are Supposed to Work
Plantable pots are made from natural, organic materials such as fiber or peat that gradually decompose.The theory is that by planting your flower or vegetable plant pot and all, you won't disturb the roots while planting. Plus, the pot itself will gradually disintegrate during the growing season and turn into soil itself.
If only. May I present exhibit A?
This is the same Dragon Wing begonia in a SoilWrap plantable pot that is pictured above. After 6 months in the ground in an Alabama climate that combines high temperatures, humidity, and rainfall -- the perfect storm for decomposition -- most of the pot is still intact. Note how no roots have penetrated the sides of the pot, but instead penetrate from the bottom of the pot that was left open.
I thought this would happen, so I planted a few Dragon Wing begonias in their plantable pots and several that I removed from the pots. In each case, the begonia removed from the pot before planting grew bigger and better. Well, of course. Its roots could grow sideways as well as down, while those in the pots couldn't.
If you buy flower or vegetable plants in plantable pots this fall, remove the pots before planting. Your plants will do better. Then compost the plantable pots instead of throwing them out with the trash. It's a win-win situation.
I just heard from Ball Horticultural Company, the makers of the SoilWrap Plantable Pots. (It's amazing how fast you get a call once you say something negative about a product!) Anyway, they said they understood my concerns and that some plants, such as begonias, are less aggressive about rooting through the sides of the pots than others (such as bamboo, I guess). So the next generation of plantable pots from them will feature a dozen small, open flaps around the sides, so that roots can grow out laterally.
Oh, the power Grumpy has! The power!!!!