Pot Feet. What are pot feet, or plant risers and why use them?
Pot feet prevent those ugly stains that need scrubbing away from the base of planters on your deck or patio. Pot feet keep the pot elevated for long-term plant happiness and health. Pot feet are classic in design and can be beautiful or simply functional.
Pot feet are one of the practical secrets behind large container gardens, whether the pot is on dirt, wood, gravel or concrete.
What to put under plant pots for pot feet? Anything that raises them off the ground or surface by an inch or two, but keeps them level will work. Why?
- Keeps drainage holes clear & draining
- Protects decks and patios from rot
- Prevents staining of deck and patios
- Promotes airflow underneath pots
- Help keep little critters out of your potted plant pots
- Crucial for winterizing container plants
Why does any of this matter and what you can do about it? Here is why what not to do and my favorite suggestions on how to.
Use something called pot feet Aliases of pot risers & deck protectors….
These are usually stone, concrete, or pottery and they simply sit under the pot holding it up about an inch from the ground so that drainage holes remain clear and airflow is allowed under the pot.
Yes, the holes in the bottom of the pot are for drainage.. ( No, do not count on a blocked drainage hole to seal your pot, it will never work if you WANT it to be sealed off and hold water.) Refer to Murphy’s Law. However, I have seen pots on a regular basis stop up, stop draining, and burst from water pooling and freezing. Leaves, dirt, algae and silt slowly fill in the cracks between the bottom of the pot and your flat deck or patio. When this happens in the growing season, the plants drown. For explanation, click here for an article I wrote – Do plants need saucers? And here for – How to water potted plants. (It’s more involved than you think 🙂 )
Decks and patios need protection from the elements to last. Here is an article about protecting your deck.
Pot feet allow airflow under your pot, so your deck has a chance to dry out. Trapped moisture permeates waterproofing, requiring you to re-waterproof more often under those pots where you can’t see if they don’t dry out.
The areas that stay moist, not just under your pot, but surrounding it, will start to mold, mildew, and algae. Pot feet allow these areas to dry out preventing that cleaning chore. Also, many fertilizers have dyes in them that can stain your deck if they sit and soak.
As mentioned, that airflow allows your surfaces to dry out, maintaining the water-proofing, retarding rotting, and mold, mildew, and algae growth.
Little critters such as rolly -ollies, ants, slugs, and such have a much harder time finding their way into the drainage hole of your pot if lifted up and away, letting light and air underneath it.
Prepare for Winter-
Do I need to do anything different to the container for winter growing? Pot feet.
Especially in the winter, it is very important that you have perfect drainage out of your container. That way water does not pool or drainage does not become restricted out of the pot. This is because soggy soil will freeze solid and burst even the most Frost Resistant container that you have. it is purely an act of expanding when it freezes. water is a mighty force. Crack boulders, move mountains kind of force!
What to use for pot feet?
- Click here to check out the ones on my favorite things page
- Wine Corks
- Plastic bottle tops
Winterizing Plant Containers?
In addition to pot feet, other things you might consider for winter containers; the larger the container the better. Unless you’re in a frost-free area it will need to be stone, concrete, or frost-resistant. Plastic becomes brittle in the cold, and regular pottery (as opposed to frost-resistant Pottery) will absorb the moisture into its pores and start flaking in freezing weather.
After anywhere from a season to a season or two it will break down completely and you will have lost that pot that you spent so much money on. A frost-free or frost-resistant container has a higher temperature firing and these containers do not absorb the moisture that regular terra cotta pots do which leads to flaking when the freezing happens.
If you have a container that is not thick-walled such as concrete, stone, or frost resistant pottery, and you insist that you need to use a thin-walled non-insulating container such as cast iron, resin, plastic, any of the manufactured materials that are not insulating, then make sure that you have a large enough container so that the soil root ball will help insulate those routes.
Add insulation to the container. The roots are not as cold hardy as a top to the plants are. They need insulation in any area where you will get Frost. If you are absolutely in love with a container that does not have insulation you can insulate it by putting a layer of bubble wrap or a non-degradable insulating blanket like the type that you find when you’re shipping and line the inside of the container before you put the soil in, will help a lot for the winter survivability of your plants.
How To Clean Stains Off Your Deck
If you use chlorine bleach, and/or TSP, trisodium phosphate, BE CAREFUL. It is powerful, and can damage a lot of things you didn’t intend while washing and rinsing your deck! Also with repeated use, the chlorine bleach can break down the lignin fibers in wood, and rust the metal fasteners of your deck. Another option is an oxidizing bleach, sodium percarbonate, like Oxyclean (for commercial size money-saving bulk quantities on Amazon click here)
A great printable sheet for deck cleaning, click here. http://www2.ca.uky.edu/hes/fcs/factshts/hf-lra-008.pdf
Unless you are doing mold remediation or recovery from a flood, then click here to go to the CDC’s webpage on cleaning up after a flood. https://www.cdc.gov/disasters/bleach.html