deep pots or shallow ones

hijole(9 Sunny California)June 26, 2011

what is the prefered pot size for Echeverias deep pots or shallow or does it really matter, Do they have deep roots that require room to grow or do they get bigger on top if they have no room to go down, Hummm?

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amanzed(10a Sunset 21)

People use both. General advice is a pot about the size of the above-ground growth, but this has exceptions (from 1/2 to 3x the above ground growth). If you're re-potting, it's often advised to increase the pot a relatively small amount, 1/2" to 2", so the roots can permeate the medium quickly and leave less opportunity for fungus or other pathogens to take up residence in the open soil.

Tim Harvey (master grower and nursery owner) recommends tall pots on the principle that the bottom "dead zone" where water continues to saturate the soil after each watering... this dead zone is a constant height or depth, and in a wide pot, this takes up a larger proportion of the volume of the pot.

On the other hand, the bonsai aesthetic is a very powerful movement in cactus and succulent culture, so you will see many expert growers growing and displaying their plants in shallow pots.

The main principle is that you eventually want the roots to penetrate pretty much the entire container. If this is not happening, you will want to figure out why.

Moving out of the realm of fancy bonsai containers, my echeveria grow better in "standard" pots than "azalea" (shallower) pots. So I guess I favor deeper pots. And incidentally, most growers say "plant high"-- meaning to fill the pot so that growing medium + top dressing comes up to the brim of the pot. In time, it will compact somewhat anyway and recede from the brim.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 9:49PM
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But what about rot, amanzed? If so many succulents don't like wet feet, how do you get around that with deep pots, even if you use fast-draining soil?

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:23PM
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If you go with a gritty soil, that drains freely and contains no perched water, you won't have to worry about thr rot issue. I used to have great difficulty with adeniums, especially in winter. I was using the "cactus & succulent" soil that is sold pretty much all over. I quit on adeniums because I felt I was wasting my time, because my growing season is short, winters long, and it's very humid in summer. Anyways, I switched to the gritty mix, and am having all kinds of good fortune now. I credit this to the free draining mix, that doesn't have the dreaded "saturated" zone at the bottom of the pot.


    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:30PM
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amanzed(10a Sunset 21)

Well, we're still talking relatively deep. That is, volume being equal, deep or shallow? Some plants have deep taproots. Others like agave and aloe have very vigorous root system which quickly penetrate to the bottom of most pots. I use both shallow and deep pots. I use wide (shallow) planters for community pots and spreading, clumping plants like Dyckia. Or for plants which tell me they don't send roots very far down. (Here's how they tell me: I notice after months in that container that plant isn't doing as well as I'd like. I gently de-pot it to check the roots. And I notice the bottom half of the pot has no roots!)

I have one Kalanchoe tomentosa in basically no soil (it "told me"), another in 6" standard pot. I find the Huntington Botanical Gardens tends to use pots which would be called "deep" if you ordered them on your own.

Tim Harvey suggested if you put the drainage holes against sand, its capillary action will drain the water which normally might saturate the bottom of the container, allowing the roots to enjoy oxygen from top to bottom.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:39PM
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I still don't like using deep pots for Crassulaceae - give me bulb pans and we'll do just fine. Deep pots for Echeverias is nothing but trouble waiting to happen, and that advice is worth the 2 cents I'd charge for it.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 10:40PM
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hijole(9 Sunny California)

Wow thanks everyone, talk about a family reunion, I think we all met here today thanks to auntie Echeveria. any other info would still be nice to hear , as they say, the more the merrier. :D

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 11:03PM
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amanzed(10a Sunset 21)

cactusmcharris: even E coccinea? These do great in the ground or in my huge, community pots. In shallow pots, they've been disappointing for me. It's hard for me to generalize.

    Bookmark   June 26, 2011 at 11:29PM
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I've not grown that one, so as you've found out, there are exceptions, but by and large....

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 12:43AM
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amanzed(10a Sunset 21)

hijole: Is it one of the typical rosette Echeveria? I think Jeff cactusmcharris is probably right -- shallow probably is a pretty good generalization for those. (Though my E agavoides really like their 6" standard pots... See? I can't help it -- I'm a shades-of-gray, both-sides-of-the-issue kind of guy.) ---DC in L.A.

    Bookmark   June 27, 2011 at 1:50AM
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