Magazine article Sunset

From Italy, Mexico, the U.S.A., a New Array of Clay Pots

Magazine article Sunset

From Italy, Mexico, the U.S.A., a New Array of Clay Pots

Article excerpt

From Italy, Mexico, the U.S.A., a new array of clay pots

There's a whole new look to clay pots. One shopping trip to a well-stocked nursery or a glance at the big photograph will show you how many new shapes and sizes of high-quality, high-fire clay pots-- many imported--are now sold in the West. You can buy them as gifts for others or to spruce up your own patio, deck, or indoor spaces.

One reason for the increased selection: the arrival in large quantity of Italian-made pots, until recently available only at very high prices through decorators. Today these handsome pots are made and shipped for less than it costs to make a pot in the U.S., dealers say, because of Italian government subsidies, modern manufacturing equipment, and cheaper labor, plus the strength of the U.S. dollar abroad. Even in American- and Mexican-made pots, there's more variety. Dealers report increased interest in large containers for trees and shrubs and low, bowl-shaped ones for displays of flowering annuals.

Why clay? Gardeners like its earthy, natural look. Since clay is porous, it breathes, helping soil aeration and keeping soil temperatures down through evaporation. It also "wicks' dissolved minerals and salts from the potting mix. (Any white deposits should be scrubbed off periodically.)

Many say plants in clay pots grow better than ones in impervious containers. This was borne out in trials at a large wholesale nursery in Southern California, where test palms in clay grew considerably faster than ones in plastic pots.

Think first of the plant. You'll want to pick a container that shows the plant off, not one that competes for attention. Choose low, horizontal pots for low growers, taller ones for tall plants.

Unless you are experienced at matching pots and plants, avoid extremely ornate post and ones glazed with bright designs. …

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