outside ceramic planter - is it killing my plants?

MSR2011March 16, 2013

Hello all,

last year I tried planting two varieties of small trees in a couple of ceramic planters that flanked my garage. The first were a pair of emerald greens, and the second a pair of dwarf alberta spruce. Before the summer was done, both died.

The planters are of the larger variety, so I don't think it was a matter of them being too small. The emerald greens would have eventually gotten too large for the planters, I realize that,... but they didn't even last long enough for that problem.

For drainage, I drilled 3 equal distant small holes (approx.1/4") in the bottom of the planters. I then placed a screen over the bottom, and then layered some small pea gravel over that. When I water, it seems to drain very well, maybe even too well,... in that I can start to see the water came out the bottom after a few minutes.

What I can't figure out is why did both tree varieties die? Yes, they are in full sun all day,.. but both are supposed to tolerate that.

For instance, after a couple of weeks of planting the alberta spruce, they started putting out new growth, and all looked great. Then, as time went on,... they simply started to wilt, and die. I was trying to pay close attention to NOT over watering, but, since they were newly planted, I watered whenever the soil seemed dry.

Could I have been over watering? I don't see how, especially since the water was draining so quickly.

Any thoughts on what is going on? My wife seems to think that it is just too hot for the plants inside the ceramic planters in full sun all day.

Thanks for any advice, as it is time once again to try and plant "something" to flank my garage.


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Alberta Spruce is a northern tree. In a pot, the roots probably got too warm in SC. I have no theory about the other tree. For better luck, look for a more southern evergreen.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2013 at 10:00PM
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You might also ask this question in the Container gardening forum.

Here is a link that might be useful: Container gardening

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 7:48AM
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clay and ceramic planters get super hot sitting in full sun, the roots are literally cooked on a hot day. as someone mentioned the alberta was a poor choice regardless, it like cool moistness around its roots.

    Bookmark   March 18, 2013 at 2:38PM
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Suzi AKA DesertDance Zone 9b

I had the same thing happen to a Fig tree. I couldn't get that little thing to grow more than 2-3 leaves. Finally, someone told me to move it to part shade, and douse it with Miracle Grow.

When I tried to move the pot, I dropped it fast! I needed pot holders to move it! I was cooking the roots! It has recovered nicely, and is really growing big!

If your pots need to stay where they are, painting them white could help, watering more often, and you could drape shade cloth over them (tacky looking..I know), but shade cloth is an amazing invention!!

Good luck!


    Bookmark   March 29, 2013 at 11:10AM
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