Dear Design Community,
I am a plant mom with plant qualms. You see, during the pandemic, my indoor garden has grown to include a baby rubber plant, several types of pothos, caladiums, a giant philodendron, aloe, and more, thanks to the extra TLC I’ve given them during housebound .
But for all my upkeep and motherhood, as well as my ardent devotion to “plant gurus” like Maryah Greene and Hilton Carter, I can’t help but feel like I’m hurting my little bulbs by putting them in those pots. The ones that don’t have drainage holes.
While the planters I’ve collected are certainly eye-catching, some are hand-painted locally, others boast retro glazes, they all have closed bottoms, which is the information I collect. (and Green’s occasional reminder), there aren’t any benefits to my living, breathing, and drinking water.
Every good plant parent knows that proper drainage is the key to keeping your fee happy; Potting mix that is too moist can cause unsightly root rot and even entice unwanted guests into your plant’s immediate surroundings. Before you know it, leaves wither, dry out, turn brown and fall off their stems, sadly falling into the soil.
When this happens, a frustrating internet search will yield vague results including “may be more your problem”. Seeing my assortment of old and newly crafted pottery has my maternal instinct pinged. Of course changing my plant’s habitat is just a matter of course!
Yet countless trips to charming lifestyle boutiques and craft fairs, antique shops, and the websites of many fab ceramicists have gone into the pot in terms of coming up with down-the-hole planters. And in some cases, the pots I’ve found have holes but no tray for the bottom. (The missed upsell opportunities are huge.)
To combat my wet soil problems for the immediate future, I’ve turned to planting aquarium rocks. To drain the water in my pots at least, if not completely out. This is not ideal for more than one reason. And honestly, I’m not even sure it always works.
Consider plants that are said to love being watered from bottom to top; That is, instead of raining on them, leave them to absorb moisture. Snake plants, African violets and even the most attractive but finicky of houseplants, the fiddle leaf fig, love to be watered from below. Wouldn’t anyone think of these chlorophyll-filled kids please?
What really lies at the root of my problem here is that I feel forever set for failure in a caring undertaking that I already accept is a trial-by-error attempt. How much water is too much? Ditto with the light. Thrips, come to me, I have a magnifying glass to find you and Neem oil is ready for your eradication. Sure, there are chat rooms and even apps out there that can help guide me through my plant care routine. But the pottery in which they reside, whether hand-sculpted or mass-produced, often misses the mark when it comes to fostering a hospitable environment.
While I wait for manufacturers to call attention to their plight, I’ll look at items from brands like the hand-crafted California Planter collection offered by Copenhagen’s Berg Potter and Toronto’s Dynasty Plant Shop; They feature drainage holes and trays, and come in a tempting host of aesthetic options. After all, your plants deserve beautiful homes. I wish this beauty also came with practicality in mind.
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