Debunking Two Popular Plant Container Myths
Rocks Improve Drainage Myth
Many gardeners believe that rock, bits of pottery, even oyster shells covering the bottom of a pot improves drainage. However, this method causes an opposite outcome. A shallow container holds more water per unit than a deeper one. Placing gravel or other non-absorbent media in the bottom of a container essentially makes the container shallower, and in return, drainage is compromised.
The other problem with this method is that water does not move easily from a soil medium into a coarser material. If drainage is a problem in your containers, switch to high quality potting soils for your flowerpots. If that doesn't solve the problem, add more perlite to the medium.
The Myth of Polymer Crystals
I don't recommend water crystals for keeping containers hydrated. They may be good for craft projects, but they are a waste of money for the garden container, and can actually steal moisture from the plants to keep themselves hydrated. The scoundrels!
Recently, I've noticed people recommending the use of disposable baby diapers at the bottom of their potting containers, because the diapers contain the polymer crystals to absorb liquid. As mentioned above they have the same moisture stealing qualities when they begin to dry out. Absorbing moisture is great when you want to keep a baby dry, but not so great when you are trying to keep your soil moist.
The best way to keep your containers hydrated is to water them when necessary. Still worried? Put them on an automated drip system, and then you can ensure they will never dry out.
If you want to know more about the plants in this container, click here.
Photographed in author's garden.