Choosing the pot your plants grow in is important. After all it is the home of your plants, and where they will live for the duration of their life.
Just like you'd like to be comfortable with room to breathe and grow, so do your plants. Plastic pots and fabric pots offer different benefits for your plants, but in much different ways.
The thing about plant pots is that they are essential. Unless you're planting into a tilled bed straight in the ground, you need pots to give your plants a stable place to develop.
Because they are so important, cost is something that will always come to mind first. How can you get the most bang for you buck? The most pots for the least amount of money?
In every case, plastic pots will be the cheaper option. For a grower just getting started, overhead costs are major concern. Saving money on your pots can add up.
However, fabric pots are arguably worth the extra change.
Fabric Pot Pros and Cons
The reason that many growers today are willing to pay a little more for fabric pots over plastic pots is due to the benefits that fabric pots offer. One of those major benefits is the overall ease of use.
Because they are not rigid, fabric pots take up much less space in storage. Many models of fabric pots also include handles, making it much easier to move plants around compared to plastic pots.
Thanks to the natural breathability of fabric pots, air can pass more freely through the root zone. When roots make contact with the air they know to stop growing, which prevents roots from touching the sides of the pots. Known as air pruning, this helps to stimulate growth of smaller roots creating a greater network of access points for water and nutrients.
The aeration of fabric pots also allows the medium to dry more quickly, which allows the grower to water and feed more often while avoiding overwatering for novice growers. But for some this could also be considered a con.
For growers who don't want to constantly monitor plants and feed more (i.e. save time and money), fabric pots can be a little more labor intensive. And because they aren't rigid like plastic pots, it is easier for plants to become lopsided over time or fall over in fabric pots.
Plastic Pot Pros and Cons
Aside from the cost effectiveness of plastic pots, they have other benefits as well. In fact, most of the cons of fabric pots are resolved by plastic pots.
The rigidity of plastic pots makes sure your plants are always secure. Because they are less aerated, plastic pots retain moisture longer so you can feed less often. While air pruning in a fabric pot can take trial and error, the lack thereof in plastic pots allows roots to wrap themselves around the bottom of the pot as they grow.
This may seem like a con at first glance, but when it comes time to transplant to a larger pot or into the ground the bound roots make it much easier to transplant by holding everything together.
Lastly, plastic pots are much easier to clean and reuse than fabric pots. The space between fibers in a fabric pot allows more sediment to get caught, as well as moisture. This can damage the pots over time and cause issues like mold.
The rigidity of plastic pots, while a pro in one sense, is also a con. That's because plastic pots can break, and they do. A lot. If a plant gets too heavy or the pot is squeezed the wrong way when moving it can cause cracks or fractures.
Different options for different growers
When it comes down to it, both plastic pots and fabric pots will get the job done just fine. For a grower willing spend a little more the ease of use and the ability to feed more, fabric pots will work best.
For growers who want to be as cost effective as possible, or just don't want to deal with cleaning hundreds or thousands of fabric pots, plastic pots have worked for decades. You can't go wrong with inexpensive plastic pots.
The debate between which may better for the environment is surprisingly up in the air. While plastic pots are not ideal for the environment, neither are the small fibers that make up fabric pots.
As long as they don't break, plastic pots can be reused over and over again. Fabric pots on the other hand may only get a couple uses before they tear or are too worn to clean properly.
In the end, plastic pots will be most ideal for new growers, and fabric pots will be most effective when utilized by an experienced grower with the money to spare.