Gardening Help FAQs

Here are answers to some of the most common questions we receive about garden plants. You will find concise information on general gardening techniques as well as plant selection and care. For detailed information on specific plant pests and problems refer to our Common Garden Pests and Problems page.

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Horticulture Questions and Answers

What are the best containers for indoor plants?

Gardeners often debate the merits of clay and plastic pots for indoor plants. Commercial growers often use plastic pots and well over 50% of all greenhouse plants are grown in some type of plastic container. Indoor gardeners, however, often have problems when they use plastic containers. For this reason, many indoor gardeners believe clay pots are best for plants. Water passes through the walls of clay containers and evaporates to surrounding air. This means the soil dries out much faster than in plastic pots and can help prevent overwatering. Plastic restricts water movement through the walls and keeps the soil moist for a longer period of time. Indoor gardeners who recognize this and modify their watering practices accordingly grow excellent plants in plastic pots.

Watering can become somewhat complex when indoor gardeners have a mix of clay, plastic, and glazed decorative pots. To avoid problems, touch the soil to see if the plant needs water. Some plants which are sensitive to overwatering like cacti and succulents, may do better in clay containers if you are prone to overwatering. Flowering plants such as the Poinsettias and the Hydrangeas need large quantities of water, therefore, plastic containers will help keep the soil moist. You can also double pot plants if you want to use decorative containers that do not have a drainage hole. Keep the plant in a clay pot or plastic pot which has a drainage hole. Place a two inch layer of coarse sand, gravel or charcoal in the base of the decorative container. Then place the pot containing the plant on the gravel. If this method is used, caution should be observed in watering so that water does not accumulate in the decorative pot, with the plant sitting in water. You can hide the double potting by covering the surface with long fiber sphagnum moss. The double potting method works quite well when growing plants in large containers or in planter boxes.