What are the best pots for planting?
This is a common question for seed starting time or general planting, and the answer depends on budget and preference. Each planting pot has it’s pros and cons.
Your choice of pots for planting also depends on if you want biodegradable ones or not
Technically you can start seeds in anything that doesn’t leak out water everywhere. I shared cheap greenhouse ideas and readers loved it. The downside is you need adequate drainage so soil doesn’t get waterlogged and create seed starting problems.
Some pot choices for seed starting
- Plastic pots
- Peat Pots
- Coconut Coir
- Soil Block Makers (no pots!)
- Fabric Grow Bags
- Clay pots
- Egg shells
- Toilet paper rolls
I’ll talk about the pros and cons of each of these pots for planting
One benefit to plastic pots is in the size options and the fact that you can re-use them, if they’re taken care of properly.
The 72 cell size for example is great for germinating seeds & growing to the first couple of leaves
Later on you can re-pot them into bigger pots, this saves space under your grow lights.
I’ve been using them for years, and honestly, I seem to buy more constantly because they easily crack, break and then I have to replace them. Every year I brave the spiders nestled in the pots and wash and disinfect our plastic plant pots because it helps to reduce soil borne disease and fungal problems.
But as the gardening years go by I can’t help but notice the plastic waste and now I’m choosing plastic free
Peat pots are nice because they biodegrade, usually in a season. They often say you can just transplant them into the garden like that, but you have to make sure the pot decomposes before the plant roots need the space otherwise your seedlings will be stressed out. When I’ve used peat pots I tend to remove them from the pot and then toss the peat pot into the compost rather than transplanting them with it. You can make sure the peat pots is very wet and break it a little with your hands so you know for sure the roots can expand into the ground too.
Peat pots can sometimes mold indoors if you don’t have air flow and you over water
This is especially true if they’re huddled together so be sure to avoid that seed starting mistake.
Peat pellets are fun to use if you’re a beginner gardener or if you’re gardening with kids.
A lot of people are concerned about the environmental effects of peat moss because it can destroy huge areas of wetlands.
While this is true and a big concern, I was happy to learn that Canadian peat moss (which supplies 80% of North America) has extensive renewable efforts to restore the bogs within 3-5 years. You can learn more about that here.
Coconut coir is a by product of the coconut industry as a way to use the coconut husks. You can buy coconut coir in large blocks which you add water to increase mass and drainage to garden soil, just as you would peat moss. Coconut coir in your garden has many of the same benefits of peat moss without being as acidic. While I love using coconut coir in the garden, I didn’t enjoy using the pots for seed starting. I found that water drained out of them too easily, and although they are biodegradable eventually, they are very sturdy.
Coconut coir pots for seed starting will not decompose in a season.
There’s too much root stress in coconut pots so I don’t recommend you plant your seedlings into the ground like you can with peat pots. Peat pots will decompose quite fast, coconut pots are biodegradable but they take many seasons.
Soil block makers
This is one gardening tool that I love, and even though it was expensive to invest in, the long term benefits is great. These soil block makers will help you create blocks of soil for planting in. These blocks are great because there’s little to no root stress and you can transplant directly into the ground. Although it requires the right soil mix and a bit of a learning curve, using a soil block maker as ‘pots’ for planting is less wasteful long-term.
Fabric Grow Bags
Fabric grow bags are excellent for container gardening because they fold away at the end of the season. They’re breathable and easy to use. Although they are large, you can use them as pots for planting and seed starting outside. The downside is that they aren’t very small like many seed starting pots so they can take up space and because they are breathable they’ll also leak out water so they aren’t the best for indoor use.
I love the idea of clay pots. They’re super cute and re-usable, you need to be careful however as they can chip. They are often more expensive to buy than plastic or peat pots initially, but pretty.
DIY pots like toilet rolls, eggshells & newspaper maker
Because they’re inexpensive, you often see people using things like egg shells or toilet paper rolls for seed starting. Some people like making pots with newspaper pot makers, which is great in the fact that you’re re-using paper, not so great for time consumption, but if you have the time that’s great. Toiler paper rolls can mold if too wet and lack of airflow (which is what happened to me, despite my efforts to try using them).
Remember, you can seed start in anything for germination. Once a seedling grows larger they need the root space.
That means if you’re using eggs shells, toiler paper rolls, or paper pots, you have to make sure that you re-pot the seedlings into larger pots later on.
What is your fav way to start seeds or pots for planting?
My name is Isis Loran, creator of the Family Food Garden. I’ve been gardening for over 10 years now and push the limits of our zone 5 climates. I love growing heirlooms & experimenting with hundreds of varieties, season extending, crunchy homesteading and permaculture.