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Not All Garden Pots Are Created Equal

Think all pots are the same? Think again! Learn about root pruning or air pruning to prevent root circles, improve aeration and drainage, and more.

Not All Garden Pots Are Created Equal

Think all pots are the same? Think again! Learn about root pruning or air pruning to prevent root circles, improve aeration and drainage, and more.


Jump to: Net Pots | Fabric Pots | Plastic Pots | Air-Pots | Fabric plantersPeat Pots | Plastic Grow Bags | Saucers | Buckets


Root circles Root circles starting on the bottom of a potted plant. Click to enlarge.

Root Circles, Root Lock & Root Bound Plants

These occur when roots become root locked or root bound. Roots expand out as plants grow. When they run into an obstruction such as a rock or pot wall they will turn to continue growing. In the case of a pot wall they will continue to grow in a circle creating a root circle unless otherwise pruned or transplanted. Plants that have root circles can be transplanted to a larger pot but roots are not as efficient at expanding out into the new, fresh grow medium. If root circling is allowed to continue plants become root locked or root bound meaning that roots become tangled and intertwined to the point that they choke. Plants that experience this show symptoms of under watering and leaves begin to yellow. Some root bound plants may continue to grow leaves but may never begin to flower. All plants are different and its important to know what your plant enjoys.


Some plants only thrive under root bound conditions such as:

root bound Some plants need root binding to thrive. Click to enlarge.
  • Peace Lily
  • Spider Plant
  • African violets
  • Aloe
  • Umbrella Tree
  • Ficus
  • Agapanthus
  • Asparagus fern
  • Spider Lily
  • Christmas cactus
  • Jade Plant
  • Snake Plant
  • Boston Fern


circling_roots-300x201 Root circles. Click to enlarge.

How To Remedy Root Lock & Root Bound Plants

Transplant them into a larger pot to allow more room for roots to grow. If the plant is very root bound, you may need to flex the pot in order to get it out or in severe cases even break the pot to extract it. The plant may need to have roots pruned in order to free them from the root ball. Pruning roots is harder on the plant but must be done in order to get the plant growing again. The plant may be stunted for some time before it begins to grow again and flower. Give it time and allow your plant to begin forming new roots and existing roots to expand out into the new grow medium.




Net Pot

Net Pots

Net pots are ideal for deep water culture, Nutrient Film, aeroponics, and ebb & flow hydroponic systems. They support seedlings and cuttings well in grow media. Their open nature promotes drainage and aeration of roots. This also allows roots to grow through pots to reach the nutrient solution easier. They come in square and round shapes ranging in size from 2” to 10” in diameter. Their strong plastic construction means that they can be reused from growing cycle to cycle as long they are properly cleaned and sterilized between.


Best for: hydroponic systems

Best grow media: Clay Pebbles, Rockwool, Growstones, Perlite



Fabric Pots

Fabric pots range in size from 1 gallon up to 500 gallons and come in black, camo and tan colors. Some larger pots have handles to help with moving the pot. The breathable fabric allows for great drainage and good aeration of roots. This non-rigid form allows them to conform to whatever terrain they are placed on making them very stable on uneven surfaces. They also tend to keep roots cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Fabric pots also prevent root circling through air pruning. At the end of growing cycles, fabric pots can be emptied and allowed to dry for a few days. Once they are dry the inner walls and surfaces can be scraped clean and pots can be stored flat to conserve on space. Gorilla Grow pots are machine washable and feature ultra-violet stitching to resist fading.


Best for: soil, soilless, and drip systems

Best grow media: soil, soilless, *coco, *clay pebbles, *growstones, *rockwool

*Gorilla Grow Pots can use these as well as soil or soilless media.



Plastic Pots

These injection molded pots have been the standard go to for years. They feature strong sturdy sides and drains at the bottom to allow excess water runoff. They can be easily stacked and are resistant to tipping over in wind. Some can be used with hydroponic systems and all can be used with soil or soilless grow media in a traditional garden. They are easily modified for DIY projects and make great starting pots. Always choose a plastic pot that is larger than your initial plant needs and make sure to transplant your plant as soon as roots reach the outer edge of the pot to ensure continued healthy growth.


Best for: soil, soilless, drip systems, *hydroponics

Best grow media: soil, soilless, coco, *clay pebbles, *growstones, *rockwool, *perlite

*some can be used in hydroponic systems




Air-pots are a relatively new style of plant container. They are light since they are hollow and filled with air and feature concentric rings of cones pointing both outward and inward. The inward facing cones help to prevent root circles by disrupting roots near the walls of the container. The outer cones allow superb aeration and air pruning of roots. The bottom of these pots are offset from the base in order to allow for more aeration as well as insulate roots from cold or hot surfaces. This design efficiency can lead to an almost 15% increase in nutrient uptake. Air-pot volume is measured in gallon equivalency. Air-pots can even be used in hydroponic systems


Best for: soil, soilless, drip systems, hydroponics

Best grow media: soil, soilless, coco, clay pebbles, rockwool


Fabric planters

Fabric Planters

These planters have a strong advantage over traditional wooden and plastic containers. They are designed to prevent anaerobic conditions in the soil to promote a healthy root zone. Fabric containers also insulate against hot and cold conditions, promote drainage and air prune roots to prevent root circles. These containers assemble quickly without any tools needed and can be easily transported. Fabric planters have been UV treated to withstand years of sun and weather exposure without breaking down.


Best for: soil, soilless, drip systems

Best grow media: soil, soilless, coco, clay pebbles, rockwool


Peat Pot

Peat Pots

Made from all natural Canadian sphagnum peat moss and wood pulp, these pots are biodegradable and contain vital plant nutrients. They can be buried along with the plant and will degrade on their own over time. They are an organic solution to seed starting and transplanting. Peat pots also promote healthy root zones by allowing roots to grow through their walls which facilitates air pruning and prevents root circles.


Best for: soil, soilless, drip systems

Best grow media: soil, soilless, coco



Plastic Grow Bags

These are an excellent low cost alternative to traditional plastic pots used by greenhouse growers. Now available to residential growers, these bags are specially designed to to last longer than any other on the market. They have drainage holes in the bottom and can be used with just about any grow media. They are widely used in greenhouses and are excellent for bedding plants. Plastic grow bags are more flexible than plastic pots allowing them to more easily flex to get plants out during transplanting. 


Best for: soil, soilless, drip systems

Best grow media: soil, soilless, coco




Planting pots are placed inside of saucers in order to catch excess water and nutrient runoff from plants. They come in a variety of sizes and colors to fit just about any pot and style. They are a great way to prevent water from spilling inside of your grow area and protect floors and carpeted areas when used indoors. They provide a strong sturdy base to prevent tipping and can be washed and reused from growing cycle to growing cycle. They make checking water levels a breeze. The ribbed surfaces inside prevent pots from sticking to them while keeping plants elevated from excess water.


Best for: soil pots, soilless pots, and drip systems in grow pots. Protecting floors and other grow areas from watering overflow.



Buckets & Lids

These are perfect to containing and transporting both liquids and solids. They can also be used to create your own DIY hydroponic, aeroponic, or drip system. Many feature a steel carrying handle and an ergonomic grip. Lids can be fastened to create a watertight seal and prevent contaminants from entering the bucket. Flip them over to create an instant seat to ease legs and backs and two with a board between create an impromptu shelf or bench. No garden should be without at least a few.


Best for: Just about anything!


Questions? Contact us at 888-815-9763 or email support@hydrobuilder.com.