Container size

morugamanMay 5, 2014

Weather is getting nice and it's getting closer to transplanting time!!! I was curious about everyone else's success with pots and sizes. I'm looking for high yields and I'm wonder what would be the best to go with. I know someone who has a ton of 5gal pails I could buy from right now but if 10gal or bigger works a lot better I would rather spend some more money on bigger pots. What's your success?

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judo_and_peppers(Tampa FL)

I use the 2 gal standard nursery pots after they get taken out of the solo cups, then transplant to 5 gallon buckets when they get about 2 ft tall.

I know a fellow who doesn't use 5gal or larger until the second year. and he gets great results. however he has a very specific (and apparently secret) soil mix, so maybe his results aren't typical.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 12:15PM
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Second year? I guess I didn't mention I live in minnesota. There will be no next year for these guys haha. I think I'm going to go with 10 gal if it doesn't end up being too expensive. Do you know where to get pine bark?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:22PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I have been studying the subject for the past 6 months b'c all my peppers are going to grow in pots.

After reading and hearing all different sides, pro and cons on big pot size, I have come to the conclusion that: MOST PEPPERS CAN DO FINE IN 2 GAL. some even can thrive in smaller pots.

To give you an example I may present to you the following youtube video , to see for yourself.

Have a Happy Hot season !.

Here is a link that might be useful: Pepper Pot size

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:44PM
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I like the pepper "tree" at the end of the video. But I don't understand your comment, @seysonn. You say the peppers would do fine in some smaller pots and then you show a video where the pots made dramatic differences.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 1:54PM
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DMForcier(8 DFW)

Well, "doing fine" and "growing into a tree" are two different things. If pods are what you want, then a plant in a smaller pot will give them to you - often more quickly than a larger plant that is still trying to eat the whole pot.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:20PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

@seysonn. You say the peppers would do fine in some smaller pots and then you show a video where the pots made dramatic differences.
Hi Josh,
The pot size can make a difference where you have a greenhouse or a long growing season. BUT in the same video I saw quite few peppers grown into a big bush in a 1 gallon pots. I would be more than happy with that kind of result. My season practically ends mid September as far as growth is concerned. Probably that is what it is in zone 4 MN.
In general, peppers grown as ANNUAL do not grow huge roots over a period of 4 to 5 months. So I THINK that bigger container and using up more potting mix is a luxury if you can afford. I COULD BE WRONG.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 3:36PM
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It depends on what pepper you are growing. Some get much larger then others. As far as where you live I would plan on finishing off indoors Use 5 gal pots with handles you can get for free. Drywall buckets, Pickle buckets ,etc. I dont get many supper hot peppers before Sept. so if you want a good harvest you need to tweak things a little.
Just realize it can be done if you tend your gear properly. A green house might be in order here. Got all summer to get it ready put them in there before the frost and watch your peppers ripen
Your on your own finding pine bark I had to regrind mine to make 5-1-1 so good luck with that.
ProMix with a third perllite would also work fine

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 4:14PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

3 - 5 gallon is the average, with many folks using larger containers to get larger yields.


    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 6:44PM
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Wow. Great video. Sure sheds light on things for me.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2014 at 8:45PM
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I use 5 gal buckets as much as possible. Last year my plant count expanded quite a bit so I also used large kitty litter pails, Rubbermaid totes (great finds at the goodwill), and large black nursery pots (3-4 gal).. Come late September you'll be able to move them closer to the house or group them together when trying to protect from any early frost. Plant larger varieties in your larger containers and work your way down in plant & pot size if need be.


    Bookmark   May 6, 2014 at 7:02AM
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You can get soil conditioner (pine fines) at Gertens. I purchased some last week for $5.49 per 2 cu ft bag.

They supposedly have it in bulk as well, but it is for the commercial landscape division and was not available last week.

Also a place in Waconia called Pine Products Inc. They sell pine fines by the 1.5 cu ft bag or in bulk.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 1:43PM
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flipback23(9 SF Bay)

I buy 10 gal tubs at walmart for 5 bucks much cheaper than 10 gal pots at a nursery. They look like the drink tubs people use at parties with the rope handles but in a smaller version. You normally get 20/30 gallon ones for party's but I found the 10s at walmart. You just have to drill holes in the bottoms.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 2:09PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

I buy 10 gallon root pouch containers for $4.50 each, cheaper if you buy ten! The 4 year ones are even cheaper, these are the nice ones!

Here is a link that might be useful: Long life root pouch

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 2:45PM
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I like this trend. What do you grow in? Every one wants to work in a budget . There was talk about WalMart bags , Im goring to try a few this year.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 6:36PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Yes, Dave, fabric bags are trendy. The more expensive one are called SMART bags. I don't know about that what makes them smart.
WalMart has stopped selling those 99 cent blue bags. Or at least my local sore does not have them anymore. But a lot of grocery stores have their version. I don't know how strong they are. Fred Meyers has them. Large one sell like for $1.25. I guess if you just leave them in one spot they should be ok.
Some time agog I bought few 2 1/2 gallon plastic pales from Dollar Store. They are fine for most small hot peppers. Cheapest nursery pots for the same size sell for over 3 .bucks.
Anyway , I am done with potting up for this season.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 8:56PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

A couple points about the bags, roots are air pruned, When they reach the edge, the air stops them. Roots do not circle fabric pots. They seem to be stimulated to grow inward. Apparently so much so, that the roots in a 15 gallon fabric pot are the same as a 30 gallon traditional pot. Also you can move them if dry, the handles hold up, at least on the ones I bought. Thirdly you can leave them outside all winter with no danger of them busting unlike hard pots that fill with water, freeze and crack.
As far as price I guess nobody looked at the link I provided. 5 gallon bags sell for $3.00. High quality grow bags for 3 bucks, They look decent too. The Wal-Mart bags are kinda cheesy to say the least. Sure they work, but don't do much for the landscape.
These bags are a great idea, and also are much better than pots anyway.

I have now seen people putting holes in the sides of hard pots and lining them with landscape cloth to benefit from the air pruning. It works, and is super cool. You can make a 30 gallon pot be like 60 gallons, great for trees in pots!
This is such a major breakthrough, soon everybody will be using the bags or have polka dot hard pots.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2014 at 10:41PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Thankd Drew

I have had heard that they are better. Bu never have heard HOW and for WHAT reason they are better/smart pots. I have some store bags, I will try some just to find out for myself.

If the idea of "AIR PRUNING" and how the roots react, is true, It should open the door to a new container growing concept. We know that big containers (even economical nursery pots) are costly and on top of that they use up more soil, which also cost quite a bit. In average, potting mix cost almost $1 per gallon. So there could be substantial saving in POT and POTTING mix costs.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 1:49AM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Yeah maybe I can actually save money by growing. because as of now it's a hobby. i spend so much money, it would be cheaper for me just to buy the produce. i have seen a bunch of Utube videos on air prunning. Maybe do a search to see what others are doing. I agree this is a new era if it works!

Here is a link that might be useful: air pruning

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 2:54AM
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Thank all .This has turned into an interesting trend.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 7:36AM
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david52 Zone 6

A word of caution on those cloth bags in a high (6,500 feet), dry (I suspect, but never measured, that this rapid evaporation must work like a swamp cooler and actually cool the soil, the opposite of the reason I use containers in the first place, which is to get nice warm soil early in the season.

I tried them for three years, results compared to standard, black nursery tree pots was significantly worse.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 6:09PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

David, I think you are right about its use in DRY air and winds/breeze. In addition to losing moisture it can also cool the soil (Heat of evaporation, like in desert coolers).

So it might not be the right choice with high temps and low Relative Humidity. In such cases even natural clay pots are at disadvantage too (not the glazed ones). Unless one is willing to water more frequently.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 7:36PM
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naturemitch(3/4 WI)

I grew in mostly 3 gallon black pots last summer (some 4). Experimented with 1 and 2 gallon as well. The 1 gallons I will not use again because of watering issues.

Overall I liked the 3's and the 4's. At the end of the season a few varieties could have used a 5 gallon. In no way or form will I use 10 gallon in this climate. I overwintered about 10 plants and they will go in 7 gallon fabric pots.

I have ordered out fabric pots from Greenhouse Megastore and they are very reasonable in packs of 10 ($13.15 for 10 five gallon pots). I will grow with black pots and fabric and see how they compare.

It will be interesting to see how things proceed.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2014 at 8:01PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

I can share your views, naturemitch

We are both in location with relatively cool summers. My HEAT ZONE is 1 and most of WI is in Heat Zone 1 and 2. This means that our summer highs seldom exceed 86F(in average). That is why I use black plastic pots . They absorb heat better , to keep the roots warmer overnight. Black Fabric containers should be OK too here, since we get more rainfall and fabrics provide good aeration and drainage as well

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 12:55AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

It sounds like the soft, permeable, grow bags are superior to the cheap impermeable ones .. but commercial growers seem happy with the inexpensive option. I plan on testing it ... well, maybe. My supply of hand-me-down black nursery pots keeps growing!

Here is a link that might be useful: 5 Gallon PVC Grow Bags

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:17AM
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johns.coastal.patio(USDA 10b, Sunset 24)

It is kind of interesting, right? Soft grow bags are pretty much a home market, while PVC bags are for "growers." Likely it is because the soft bags just look better, more substantial, and have an aesthetic edge.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 9:19AM
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david52 Zone 6

I have a very short growing season, approx 100 days, but out of that, at least 40 days have night time temps down in the low 40's F, and daytime highs in the 70's.

I start my peppers from seed indoors in early February, put the seedlings iin 4" X 4" x 5" deep nursery pots, pinch the tops about now in May, when they're a foot high and some flower buds are showing up, then transplant the foot-high plants into containers the first week of June then out to the garden.

I have a fleet of containers running from 2 gal up to 15 gallons, and with the larger pots, I put in 3 or 4 plants.

When I dump out the potting soil to re-mix it up, I find the roots all the way throughout - even the largest pots.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 12:21PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

Funny how useless zone info is, Seysonn mentions cool summers but is a zone 7, well 7b, almost an 8! I'm in 6a
Almost a 5! July and August are brutal here. Often reaching 100 degrees. So the loss of heat works for me, and should work well in the south. We have wet springs, so the quick drying helps keep the moisture more uniform, but later in the summer will hurt from the high temps. i will have to water more.
The good news is more options are always good. I don't see these eliminating traditional pots, but offer us a useful tool to meet specific needs. For me the extra root room makes a huge difference and should increase yields. Worth the extra effort. I have to watch the garden daily now anyway, i enjoy it actually. I could just stay in the garden, but the real world calls too much for my liking.

    Bookmark   May 9, 2014 at 2:00PM
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seysonn(8a WA/HZ 1)

Drew, You are right . USDA zone number are meaningless when it comes to summer veggies gardening.
I have a thread in tomato forum going now. The title is :


If you go to that thread , you will find a link (GA interactive) that you can open it , type in your zip code and get your Heat Zone. Probably there are several heat zones in MI. Those are called micro climates, within the same USDA zone.

    Bookmark   May 10, 2014 at 3:47AM
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