Last January I had a contest to give away a set of soft-sided “Smart Pots,” the winner won several pots with the condition that they check in a few times and share how the plants in their Smart Pots are doing. In case you missed it, Smart Pots are a soft-sided “pot” that is supposed to provide better air circulation in the potting mix. Debra of the Smith Bites blog was the winner, and recently she sent me her initial thoughts. I have also been growing tomatoes, lavender, peppers, dahlias, and lilies in some Smart Pots, and have some initial impressions to share too.
Debra’s Experience With Smart Pots
Using a good organic planting mix with Perlite, both the tomato and peppers transplanted better in the new Smart Pots than in my regular pots – very little droop in either plant and both perked up in their new homes after about 30 minutes. It’s been about a month since planting and both plants are bigger and more robust than plants in my other containers. Since I live in the Midwest, our growing season hasn’t really begun (i.e., no blooms as of yet) so I will need to report later on the yield.
I have been pleasantly surprised to find that the Smart Pots maintain the moisture of the soil better than my other pots which means they don’t need to be water as often and they maintained their shape – wet or dry.
Overall impression is that I’m happy enough with the results so far, that I’ll be looking to add a few more pots in the future; we have a pond and I’d like to try planting a water lily in one and see how the Smart Pot holds up under water!
My Thoughts on Growing Plants in Smart Pots
I love Debra’s idea of using a Smart Pot to grow a lily in her pond. I have been meaning to try water gardening for some time, and I can see how a Smart Pot would be a good option in that setting.
I have all my Smart Pots potted up at my office. We did a poll here on LOTB to decide what I would grow in my Smart Pots, and you all selected tomatoes and lavender. I bought plastic pots the exact size of the Smart Pots and planted nearly identical plants in both the Smart Pot and the plastic pot. I used identical potting mixes and have fertilized the pots exactly the same.
I selected an indeterminate type of tomato that has blueberry-sized fruit called ‘Red Currant.’ The plant growing in the Smart Pot is a good 12 inches taller than the plant growing in the plastic pot, even though the plastic pot has a slightly better location (it gets 30 minutes-1 hour more sunlight). Both plants have flowers and green tomatoes, though the Smart Pot plant has more tomatoes that are almost ripe, more green fruit, and more flowers.
For the lavender comparison, I selected a beautiful variety of Spanish Lavender. One plant was slightly smaller than the other. I placed the smaller plant in the Smart Pot and the bigger plant in the plastic pot. The smaller Smart Pot lavender has grown at a faster rate than the plant in the plastic pot (I measure the diameter, height, number of flower buds, and number of opened flowers on a weekly basis). I’m not sure if this is because of the difference in the pots or the initial size.
Both Debra and I are having better results with Smart Pots than with plastic pots thus far. We’ll continue to keep on eye on the experiment and report back to you later in the season.