What Are Smart Pots Made of?

Introduction

From clay pots to smart pots- container gardening has seen a lot in recent years. So, it’s very likely that you’re looking for planting in a smart pot that everyone’s going crazy about. 

But before ending up with one, hold your horses, and be 100% certain about what are smart pots made of, what sizes that offer and will they be a perfect suit for you at all? 

This is the question that we’ve taken over to answer for you. By the end of this article, you’ll be a smart pot expert, literally! 

What Material Are Smart Pots Made From?- The Ingredient List

Smart pots or Grow Bags are basically fabrics shaped in a cylindrical shape. To extend the functionalities for the gardeners, there are some add-ons and extensions of that as well. 

So, we’ll discuss the list of smart pot ingredients into two listings- 

  1. The Smart Pot Fabrics
  2. The Smart Pot Accessories/Add-ons. 

Smart Pot Fabric

The first question regarding today’s topic is- what fabric are smart pots made of? Well, we’ve got not one, two answers in this regard.

Here they go- 

Fabric Option 1: The Landscape Fabric

You might have heard of weed barriers that are put under garden beds to prevent weed invasion. Well, that’s just a synonym of landscape fabric- the core fabric to make smart pots

There are a couple of quality determiners of landscape fabrics- 

  1. The GMS count. 
  2. The woven/non-woven state. 

GSM count expressed the thickness/yarn count of the fabric. The thicker it is, the less permeable and heavy the pot will be. Usually, the GSM count lies within 260g- 400g for landscape grow pots.

In terms of materials, landscape fabric can be split into two categories- Woven and non-woven. Here’s a quick comparison between these two fabrics- 

Differences Between Woven and Non-woven Landscape Fabric
Non-woven Landscape FabricWoven Landscape Fabric
  • Made of linen or polypropylene.
  • Porous with tiny holes.
  • Works fine as a container fabric.
  • Blocks sunlight only, not moisture and air.
  • A bit pricier than woven fabrics.  
  • Made of polyester or polypropylene.
  • Not highly porous.
  • Works well under rock or gravel landscapes.
  • Blocks all of the sunlight, air, and moisture.
  • Cheap in price.   

To be honest, smart pots are mostly made of non-woven landscape fabrics. So whenever we’re addressing landscape fabrics, we mean the non-woven ones of course. And if you’re aiming at sourcing the best benefits of fabric pots, this should be the go-to choice of yours as well. 

Pots that are made of non-woven fibers are rich with perforated holes in them. That’s also the reason why gardeners treat this as a significant upgrade to plastic/ceramic/clay-made pots. 

Pros
  • Permeable for air and moisture. 
  • Withstands the sun’s decomposting effects. 
  • Lasts for years.
  • Comes as UV-treated.
  • Pretty budget-friendly.
Cons
  • It blocks light entirely.
  • Comes with a short lifetime(2-3 years).
  • Not the best fabric for above-ground plantation.

Some of our recommended non-woven landscape fabric smart pots- 

  1. 260g landscape fabric: 247Garden 3 Gallon Grow Bags
  2. 300g landscape fabric: VIVOSUN 5-Pack 5 Gallon Grow Bags
  3. 400g landscape fabric: Ming Wei 100 Gallon Grow Bags

Fabric Option 2: Geotextile Fabric

If you’re looking for an upgrade over typical landscape fabric pots, geotextile fabric-made ones can be your go-to choice. This fabric is made of polypropylene or polyester and is quite permeable. 

Geotextile fabrics come as both woven and non-woven states as long as smart growing pots are concerned. But the non-woven polypropylene material is the better choice of geofabric for smart pots. 

Some of these pots are even UV-resistant, providing an additional safety layer for the roots of outdoor potted plants.

Pros
  • Prevents root cycling. 
  • Induces air-pruning. 
  • Lasts for 3-5 years.
  • Chemically stable and inert. 
  • BPA-free.
  • Very breathable and prevent wet soil. 
  • Machine washable and storable.
Cons
  • Quite pricey.
  • Non-recyclable.
  • Need frequent watering.
  • Water run-off might take place. 

Some of our recommended non-woven polypropylene geotextile fabric pots- 

  1. MEARTEVE 10 Gallon Premium Grow Bags
  2. Vantiorango 10 Gallon Grow Bags

Smart Pot Accessories/Add-ons

Supportive Sticks/Poles

This doesn’t come up with all of the smart pots under the sky. But in some of them, there are loops around the corners to add a few supportive poles. Once such pot is the 5-15 gallon square Grow Pot from Growsun

You can use PVC or 2”x2” lumber to build the frames for the pot. But the loop size should be an exact match to the PVC or lumber. 

The Benefits

These poles help to structurize the pot. Structuring the pot in this way helps to allow plant stakes to be inserted outside of the soil. Staking plants with poles comes with these benefits-

  1. It helps the young or weak plants to hold themselves up against the elements. 
  2. Prevents too many movements of the plants in the wind. 
  3. Saves up gardening space, which is an absolute premium. 

The Handles

Many of the growers used to have a common complaint about smart pots about having no handles to carry it around. Thus, these pots become incredibly floppy, which makes transportation very difficult. 

But the good news is- there are some brands that offer carrying handles with the pots. While carrying around, these pots won’t reach any harm to the root structure. 

Are Smart Pots Lead-free?

We’ve seen this question pop up on many discussions online among gardeners. And we think it’s important enough to discuss this in a separate section of this article. 

To be honest, yeah- there are leads in many so-called ‘smart pots’. But there are a few of them where there is 0% lead. But you’ve to be watchful on that if you’ve got to buy a smart pot. 

And how exactly would you do that? Well, there is a couple of ways- 

Check Out the Packaging

Firstly, put your detective helmet on and check the packaging for the ingredient list. While manufacturing smart pots, it’s quite imperative that the ingredients are clearly stated on the packaging. 

Is It Sold Around California? 

Another passive way is to check if it’s available for sale in California. Because lead-driven smart pots are legally forbidden over that state. 

What Size of Smart Pot Do You Need?

That’s a common question asked by any potential grower in a smart pot. Let’s break down the answer- 

There are three facts that you need to consider to determine the required size of a smart pot for plantation- 

  1. The basic amount of potting soil needed. 
  2. The root growth.
  3. The soil compression.  
  4. The irrigation fact. 

Considering all of them in, here are the steps of calculating the size of a smart pot- 

Step 1: Calculate the amount of soil

Different plants have different amounts of required soil to be grown in a container environment. Putting more or less soil than that would result in either quick dry-outs or tipping over. Hence, your plan of gardening with fabric pots will be grounded. 

This basic know-how will provide you with a certain amount of soil in the unit of gallons. Note that down and proceed afterward. 

Step 2: Know The Root Growth

Plants always need to grow deep roots and spread the roots out. When it’s a potted plant, it doesn’t have all the soil under the sky for that, right? 

Therefore, keep in mind that whatever amount of soil you’ve got from the step earlier, should be placed in a smart pot with a large, flat bottom. 

Step 3: Count the Soil Compression In

When you’re loading a pot with soil, it’s obvious that the soil will be compressed to an extent. Usually, the percentage is 15-20%. 

That means, the estimated amount of soil would be 15-20% more than what it’s basic version is(after the first two steps). 

For example, if you’ve got 5 gallons of soil for a plant without considering the compression, you should change that into a minimum of 5.5-6 gallons considering the compression. 

Step 4: Prioritize the Irrigation 

In the final step, we’ll consider the irrigation. Well, smart pots come up with a pretty porous structure. Means, whenever the plants will be watered, the water will be runoff throughout the pot body. In this way, it’d prevent water clogging and over-watering. 

This brings up an issue that, too much water runoffs will dry the container soil up when it’s summer or so. To keep the root area of the plant dryness-free, you need to put almost double the amount of soil that you’ve calculated before. 

For example, if the amount of soil required for a plant would be 6 gallons by step 3, it would be doubled into 12 gallons considering the irrigation. 

All that being said, we’d advise you not to compromise fabric pots drainage in order to garden with less amount of soil in smaller pots.

How to Identify & Avoid Fake Smart Pots?

Since 2006- the launch of consumer-grade smart pots, there had been a wave of brands manufacturing them. But not all of them are worth your trust and money. 

We’re talking about pots that are fake, poor in quality and less in performance. If you hold your horses a bit and have a closer look, you can actually avoid buying one of them. 

Therefore, here goes the list of identifiers through which you can differentiate between fake and legit smart pots- 

  1. Imitation fabric pots are usually made in China, sporting lack in both consistency and quality. 
  2. They are often rich in lead, BPA and harmful dyes. Such chemical contaminants are quite troublesome for plants. 
  3. The fabric comes with extra stitching and telltale. That reveals it’s poor quality and the chance of splitting while filled with soil. 
  4. These pots are either too thin or too thick, causing problems in drainage, root circling, rotten root, and other problems as well. That’s nowhere near to a good quality air pruning fabric.

So, how would you tell if a pot is of the original quality? Well, you have to watchful about what fabric is used for smart pots and what accessories they come with. 

A legit way is to look for the ‘‘White Smart Pot” tag. It’s the representative of authentic American-made quality. Otherwise, you might not end up with what you’ve actually invested for.

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