Pots and containers

Whether the priority is decoration or practicality, there are products to suit every need.

A glance through a catalogue from any leading supplier of pots and containers will show a huge variety of products. There are cell-trays for propagation, packs and pots for growing-on and larger containers for the production of trees and shrubs. You’ll even find decorative pots, bowls, troughs, tubs and baskets if you are looking to add value to plants before they go for sale.
For the retailer, there is even more choice: starter kits for seeds and cuttings; pots in all styles and colours; pot covers; and vast selections of patio planters sourced from around the world. And landscapers, though they often head for the street furniture catalogues, should find items for smaller projects.
Choice will depend on your type of business and market. Obviously growers need products that assist in the production of quality plants, but they should also keep an eye on fashion trends if the final product is heading for retail outlets.
Most propagation is done in cell-trays, individual pots or blocks because of the benefits of allowing each plant to develop in its own space. Buyers should pay attention to the size and format, and ensure trays or pots are compatible with seeding, transplanting and potting machines. They must also suit the system of handling and setting down. Pots should be checked for stability and drainage inspected for its suitability to irrigation systems.
Growers producing bedding plants may be looking to present a value pack. Last June, Styropack UK — the leading supplier of expanded polystyrene bedding trays to the horticulture sector — launched the UK’s first-ever expanded-polystyrene six-pack tray. This single, solid pack incorporates six large pots (equivalent to six individual 10cm pots) and has reportedly been well received by growers. Around 750,000 have been sold in the UK in the 10 months since its introduction.
“The Jumbo six-pack is a great option for growers who want to supply larger, better-quality plants as an added value option for the retailer,” says Styropack’s UK sales manager Gideon Woodhouse. “It has been successfully used for many plants including Nemesia, Verbena and larger geraniums. With the Jumbo six-pack you can supply bigger plants while still offering the customer a value pack.”
Pots and containers must have a lifespan appropriate to the length of production — lightweight materials are suitable for bedding production and crops with a quick turnaround, but heavy-duty materials will be needed for longer-term nursery stock lines. Because of their environmental benefits, biodegradeables are becoming increasingly important, though their strength and handling characteristics should be checked carefully for use in commercial situations.
Fertile Fibre recently introduced a range of coir fibre pots suitable for growing seeds and cuttings, potting and onward planting into beds and borders. Made from renewable organic coir fibre with a minimal binding of biodegradeable natural latex, the pots are said to remain sturdy above ground for around nine to 12 weeks but will biodegrade in two to three months underground when planted out.
“The benefits of the coir pots are numerous,” says Fertile Fibre managing director Matthew Dent. “They allow water and air to move through the pot while containing soil or compost. Plant growth is strong and natural air-pruning of the roots occurs once they grow through the walls of the pots, encouraging a strong, balanced root system. Once the pots are planted into soil, air-pruned roots rapidly regenerate.”
Fertile Fibre coir pots come with pot filler discs — a small disc of coir-based growing medium which, once soaked, expands to fill the pot.
Reliable delivery is essential for growers. Retailers are likely to be more interested in margins and a package that includes back-up service, top-up deliveries, point-of-sale material and display stands. We are increasingly seeing products shipped in from around the world and, while plastics remain popular for their light weight and variety of colours, natural materials are also having an impact here.
Deroma UK managing director Ian Monnery encourages retailers to follow European thinking and consider a container as something that is not just for plants: “If they can see it more as a home decoration item, that will appeal to customers’ style and taste.”
Founded in 1945 by two Venetian craftsman, the Deroma Group has grown into the world’s leading pottery supplier, with wholly owned factories in Italy, China, Spain and the US. Deroma UK was formed a decade ago and concentrates on meeting the needs of the home market by selecting suitable products that can be supplied on a pick-and-mix basis for display with bespoke packaging. Two recent introductions from Deroma are the 100-per-cent-natural terracotta Terracino Lite and Terrazzo Lite — a lightweight alternative to stone made from organic elements.

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