The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Whether or not to pot?


By fuzexi


Last week I read an article about research that has been done using an imaging technique which shows that plant roots somehow sense they are in a pot, and send a message back to the top part of the plant telling it to stop growing. I’d be interested to hear what anyone has to say about that… surely gardeners across the world would have long ago given up the idea of growing in containers? The article is on the BBC website: “‘Stunted’ pot plants cannot reach full potential”

Having said that, I thought this may account for so many of my plants just not growing! For example, in about February I planted some seeds from a goji berry, (I got the packet from the dried fruit section in Tesco) and although they all sprouted, most of them grew quite quickly until they got about an inch high, then they just stalled. And then they slowly got taken out by the slugs, one by one…

(this is one of the surviving ones that the slugs didn’t get, as you can see it is being dwarfed by some clover)

(this one is sprouting new leaves after a snail chewed them all off, next to some baby coriander)

However, I just went out to take a picture of my poor goji berries (actually they are called ‘gou qi’ in Chinese, because I used to work in the countryside in China, and they grew wild there), and I suddenly found the surviving colony has suddenly taken a spurt of growth. So they are about 6 inches high. Interestingly, I grew these in the only ‘air pot’ I possess (these are highly favoured plants, because I desperately want a goji bush to the point of almost buying one), so I am wondering if the air pot has anything to do with it.

(this is the goji plant, which you can just make out in front of a larger chamomile plant)

More blog posts by fuzexi

Previous post: The Wildflower project

Next post: Science kicks in!



You have covered a lot of interesting things here. Perhaps some plants may sense the size of the pot! but I have found plants often do become pot bound and do continue to grow, but in a circle and these roots need to be teased out or they may continue to grow in a circle even when planted in the ground.
Some plants will not do well if repotted in a size too big either. I find with cuttings and seedlings some are successful and some are not. Mostly I think its down to the conditions I provide and or external conditions prevail as with the weather this year.

3 Jul, 2012


Thanks, and yes I agree. I think, slugs aside, that the main reason for the stunted growth might be the other pots are retaining too much water. I think I read that Goji really likes well drained soil. When I worked in China they grew on the mountainsides, so there's plenty of drainage there! The air pot has so many holes, and underneath it's just a mesh. I was afraid it would dry out in seconds, but the soil inside seems to hold the right amount of moisture.

3 Jul, 2012


Hope it works for you. Do you have any photos of your time in China.

3 Jul, 2012


It sounds as though that pot suits the goji berry plant. It must have been interesting for you working in the China countryside.
I think most things will grow well in a pot, if looked after and given enough feeding.

3 Jul, 2012


How strange, I took some Goji berries out of some dried berries from a supermarket to try and grow as well. I have them in sandy soil. Been a week now and no sign of life, but I will let them be for a few more weeks to see if they come to something. I saw a plant in Tallinn for 5 Euro a few weeks ago and was going to take it back with me but thought that it might cause more hassle than it was worth.

3 Jul, 2012


Thanks for your comments!
I soaked the berries in water for a few days before actually planting them. Then I put them in one of those peat tablets that swell up when you add water. They germinated in around 1-2 weeks. Then when they got about an inch high I put them outside.
The ones in the air pot are in a cold frame, (cheap plastic one from Morrissons £10) and I places some plants in front of the cold frame to offer some shade. They seem to like that.

I have very few photos of China, as I didn't have a camera. I can try to dig some out, but it will be a while before I can do it.

3 Jul, 2012


Thanks Fuzexi

3 Jul, 2012

Add a comment

Recent posts by fuzexi