Air-Pot® containers are the original and the best air-pruning containers around, and here you’ll learn how to get the most out of them!
There are two very important steps that ensure maximum performance: the first is their assembly and the second is their packing.
This just-over two minute long video below covers both these very well, and I’ll follow with some additional words on the packing. Please note that we do not carry all sizes portrayed in this video.
It’s really important that the containers be packed firmly and that the mix fills each and every one of the protruding cones — an Air-Pot can be packed more densely than conventional pots as the cones ensure that the mix is fully aerated, more so than in conventional pots.
Many people will not have a dedicated potting bench, but as was shown in the video, I strongly recommend filling these containers on a solid surface (no slats) such as a table, bench or even a concrete path. A lot of mix will come through the bottom initially, which is otherwise wasted through slats and onto grass or gravel ground if not able to be retrieved.
All five sizes we carry can be firmly packed, as demonstrated in the video, by tapping the pot firmly between scoops. But I also find it helpful to run the palm of my hand around the inside as well, between scoops, to really fill those holes. Whatever works for you is the right way if you can see the mix filling those holes — and better still, falling through them! Some settling in the container will still occur over time, but this can be a good excuse to top up with additional fertilising compost!
Speaking of the mix, the finer it is the better. A particle size under 5 mm is ideal as these can really work their way into every cone. You can use pure compost, or 2:1 compost and fine coir (also called coir peat), or 1:1:1 compost, coir peat and potting mix. Home-made compost may have larger pieces in it, so either pick these out or screen it through mesh before using.
An Air-Pot can dry out a little quicker than a conventional pot, but this is minimised by using compost and coir.
Compost is organic matter, which is not only nutrient-rich and one reason plants do so well in an Air-Pot, but also retains a lot of water. In conventional pots this can be a disadvantage and lead to drainage problems, but the incredible aeration an Air-Pot allows overcomes this.
The black plastic and warmer Australian climate will still have a drying effect regardless, and the addition of fine coir does an amazing job in compensating for this.
If you use potting mix, go for the best quality possible. The high quality ones will have slow-release fertiliser and water-holding crystals added to them. The fertiliser will last up to six months so be sure to top up if planting perennials.
I personally don’t use potting mix — this is not a value judgement, just a choice as we make a lot of compost — but while good quality potting mix contains slow-release fertiliser (Osmocote®), coir does not. Thus to compensate for the compost nutrients ‘lost’ to the addition of coir peat I also mix through slow-release PowerFeed® granules.
Osmocote® would work just as well, of course, but I prefer PowerFeed® as it contains soil microbes, which Osmocote® does not. Again, this is not a value judgement, or even an endorsement, and the compost itself will be teeming with plenty of microbes anyway, which makes the whole thing moot. But I have degrees in soil microbiology and fully appreciate what these little fellas do, so if it’s between one with and one without, what’s a soil-microbe-lover gonna do?!