At the beginning of any grow season you have to decide a lot of things, like what plants your growing, which lights you'll use, how much space you will need, and how much it will all cost!
Plastic pots have been the norm for cultivators for decades. They're cheap, relatively durable and get the job done just fine. However fabric pots have gained popularity in recent years not just because of the benefits of growing in a fabric pot over plastic, but for the environmental aspect as well.
Neither plastic pots nor fabric pots are perfect, which is why knowing the pros and cons to each will make it much easier to decide between the two.
To get it out of the way first, plastic pots are extremely affordable. A one gallon plastic pot costs well under $1.00, and when you have a lot of plants to take care of the price can add up. A grower looking to save will find plastic pots as the most affordable option.
Plastic pots are also sturdy. The stiff and rigid plastic helps keep your medium compact and supported, and you don't have to worry about plastic pots slumping when your plant gets bigger and heavier.
Lastly plastic pots create a strong barrier for your roots. When your roots develop in your medium, they want to reach out and keep growing downward to build a sturdy root system. A plastic pot restricts your roots from spreading downward and outward, creating a sturdy web of roots weaved and wrapped around your medium.
Unfortunately for some of these plastic pot pros, they can also be considered cons.
The rigidness of plastic pots while supportive, can only be so supportive. With so little give a plastic pot with a big, heavy plant in it is more likely to crack or break. This can easily be avoided by making sure you have the right size pots for up-planting into larger pots when your plants need it.
Another con to plastic pots is that they aren't very breathable. While most pots will come with holes on the bottom for drainage, those holes don't do too much to aerate the plant throughout.
And when it comes to moving your plants around once they are potted, it will be more difficult with plastic pots since they typically only have a lip at the top to grab. While it may seem like a minor issue, when you have 100 plants in 5 gallon pots, the work will add up.
It's typically for the above reasons that someone will make the switch to fabric pots.
To pick up where we left off with plastic pots, fabric pots have handles. This alone may be enough for larger cultivators to make the switch. Being able to easily pick up your plants with handles can save a lot of time and effort.
While both plastic and fabric pots are reusable, plastic pots typically won't maintain their quality for as long as fabric pots. The material that makes up a fabric pot may stretch and wear with time, but it will last longer than a plastic pot which will eventually crack or break.
Besides the handles, what really differentiates a fabric pot from a plastic pot is its breathability. The fibers in fabric pots are small enough to allow air to pass through, making the entire pot extremely well aerated. More oxygen to your root zone almost always means bigger roots, and bigger plants.
Just like plastic pots however, fabric pots have their flaws.
Bigger roots are great, but fabric pots can sometime let your roots go a little too crazy. A plastic pot will keep your roots contained which typically causes wrapping, but a fabric pot may let the roots grow through the fibers in the pot.
While rare, this can eventually restrict your roots and cause issues by clogging up the tiny openings in the pot, and also make it more of a pain to get your pots clean afterward.
Your plants need support from their pot too. A fabric pot will support your plant just fine as long you as take care to evenly lay your medium in the pot. A plastic pot will force the medium to center on the bottom of the pot because of its rigid sides, whereas a fabric pot will have more give if your medium is laid unevenly.
Lastly, and a big reason some growers don't use fabric pots, is the cost. A one gallon fabric pot with handles can cost two and a half times more than a one gallon plastic pot. If you have a lot of plants, that can really add up especially once you need to transplant into a larger pot.
Whether you go with plastic pots or fabric pots is ultimately a personal choice. One isn't blatantly better than the other, and both have pros and cons as we've explained. Plastic pots will likely save on costs, but for a more environmentally friendly and high quality product, fabric pots will always be superior in that regard.