Spring Conditioning Planter Liners

DeepStream Design’s rugged plastic planter liners make spring conditioning easy.

Perennial plants grown in planter liners have special needs.  With spring here in Miami, I’ve noticed that it’s well past time to repot some of my smaller ornamental plants.  Others plants like Clusia have very aggressive roots and liners need to be removed and roots trimmed every year.

Tools Needed:

You need to remove plants from their planter liners periodically to alleviate their root bound condition. This give you the opportunity to add fresh potting medium. You will also check that the liner is draining efficiently.  DeepStream Designs rugged plastic liner is flared making this a easy with just a few tools: A long serrated knife, perhaps scissors, a tarp, a broom, and dust pan. Cut off the bottom third of the root system, then break up the root ball as much as possible.

Remove the bottom third of the root ball
Container Gardening Root Bound

Drainage:

I’m using rubber mulch this year in my drainage plan for ornamentals, but not in my herb or citrus garden planters. because it is lighter than pebbles or gravel used in traditional drainage plans. This makes it ideal to reduce the load on your balcony or rooftop if you don’t need the weight of gravel to keep your pots from tipping in high winds.

I use rubber mulch to fill the bottom of my pots and liners up to the level above the top of my drain, about 3”-4”, after I put in DeepStream’s drain pads (drain board, Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage, and geo-fabric sandwich) in place over the drain hole and cover that with 4” of Paver Base (very coarse 2mm sand) or even rubber mulch in a pinch as I did this year.

Planting Medium

Your potting medium will depend on your climate and your plants, as well as the type of drainage and watering system you’re using.  We use drip irrigation and mist sprayers on timers. In Miami where we can get 6″ of rain in 6 hours I use a fast-draining medium to which I add perlite and paver base to further increase drainage rates.  You tailor your soil in dry climates by adding vermiculite to retain moisture .

container gardening repotting supplies
Container gardening requires a few simple repotting supplies. Don’t forget a tarp, broom, and dust pan.

Watering:

I installed micro valves on every planter liner so that I can adjust the rate of watering for each planter liner.  Reduce the flow to the point that water does not seep out the drain except when it rains.

Click on the picture to go to DripWorks website to order all the parts you need to install drip irrigation. It’s a very informative and complete website, cost competitive, and their system are plug and play easy to install.

Automatic Drip Irrigation Manifold with Rain Sensor and 4 active zones.  Click pic to link to DripWorks website for more information.
Automatic Drip Irrigation Manifold with Rain Sensor and 4 active zones.

Repotting large plants:

With the Clusia the the steps are almost identical.

accessing the planter liner for spring conditioning
Lay the planter over on a padded surface and slide the liner out.
Remove roots growing over the sides of the planter liner if the liner won't slide out.
Remove roots growing over the sides of the planter liner if the liner won’t slide out
The planter, planter liner, and planter drainage design all play an important role in planting maintenance and root trimming.
A bulging planter liner indicates it's time for root pruning
A bulging planter liner indicates it’s time for root pruning, it’s roots like these Calusia that have torn apart large pre-columbian temples in Central and South America.

Removed the plant from the liner to trim the the larger roots easily,  The tapered shape of DeepStream liners makes it easy to simply slide the root ball from the liner to trim and replant.

Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage
Paver Base, rubber mulch, or similar mediums slow water flow, improving planter drainage by allowing “fines” that can clog the drain to settled below the side drain.

Before repotting add a DeepStream’s 3 part-part planter drain pad with Bio-Barrier over the drain holes to aid in root blocking and to retain the planting medium and slow the flow of the water towards of the drain.

DeepStream Designs advanced 3-layer drain pad created with drain board, filter fabric, and Biobarrier
DeepStream Designs creates an advanced 3-layer drain pad out of drain board, filter fabric, and Biobarrier for you so all you have to do to maximize drainage is to place the pad over the DeepStream linner sidewall drain port and hold in place with the appropriate material to slow the flow of water to the drain.

Hold the drain pad in place over the hole, fabric side against the hole, with paver base or similar coarse medium, never sand, with out any clay in it. You can even use rubber mulch in a pinch.

Planter Liner after root trimmed
Planter Liner after root trimmed

With all the roots trimmed for the year your plant and planter liner shape should be restored for another year.

Selecting tapered planter liners with the drainage features your project requires will save you time, money, and effort. Read more specifics about Selecting-planter-liners and here is a video link showing how quick easy it can be to replant.

Happy gardening! Tom

Selecting Planter Liners

Selecting planter liners with the features your project requires will save you time, money, and effort.

DeepStream's rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners tapered design, with advanced drainage, makes them easy plant and economical to ship: click for detailed info and prices.
DeepStream’s rugged waterproof recycled LLDPE food safe plastic liners tapered design, with advanced drainage, makes them easy plant and economical to ship.

Major considerations when selecting planter liners are the shape of the planter, the material the liner is constructed with, the location of drain(s), and size relative to your landscaping requirements.

  1.  Selecting planter liners with a shape tapering to a smaller base makes for repotting slip-out easy and if they stack then you save money shipping.
  2.  Rugged commercial grade 3/16″ walls from UV-stable, 100% pre-consumer recycled low-density polyethylene, or polypropylene are both flexible and food-safe, they will last decades in the sun and unburden landfills as they are recyclable materials.
  3.  Side wall, not bottom drain, aids drainage. Is the drain threaded for proper drainage systems accessories if required by your locations.
  4.  There is a water reservoir below the drain for the tap root while providing a place for “fines” or clay to settle to prevent drain blockage.
  5. Liner depth is determined by the requirement of the plants you have selected.
DeepStream's tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage: click for drain pad details
DeepStream’s tapered liner with advanced drainage and the components of the 3-part drain pad with Bio-Barrier to prevent root blockage

An important consideration to successful landscaping in planters is starting with the right soil mixture and drainage for your plants.

  1. You want your container to drain well while retaining moisture but not hold water. Do not use “dirt” or any material with clay which will block drains.  Perlite is a good light weight additive if your trying to improve quick drainage, Vermiculite if your trying to retain moisture. Very course sand, like commercially available “paver base” if you need weight to prevent toppling in high winds but not fine “beach” or “mortar” sand as they will immediately block your drains.  Remember many plants have specific soil PH needs.
  2. Geo-textile fabric and drain board to provide filtration and space over drain.
  3.  BioBarrier (TM) with a plastic-embedded non-systemic herbicide, with a lower toxicity than table salt or aspirin, that creates a 2″ thick root deflection zone around the drainage material by preventing root cell tip division. The product, guaranteed effective for 15 years, has been used as a weed control system for more than 35 years in agriculture to prevent weed growth between row crops.  Drainage pads are placed over the drain hole.
  4.  To prevent clogging you need to slow the water so that the fines in the planting medium settle to the bottom and not onto the filter medium. When selecting planter liners pick one with sidewall drainage, not on the bottom. This is an integral part of the drainage system as it allows the “fines” to settle to the bottom below the sidewall drain. Traditional pea gravel is too large and the water will flow rapidly to the drain and clog it with fines.  Fine sand will flow too slow and form an impenetrable layer clogging with fines. There is no need to put rocks or gravel in the bottom of a plastic pot, it only raises the water table.

It is best to use a 2 to 4 inch thick covering of very clean, very coarse sand of between 1 and 2 mm particle size mounded over the drain filter.   For reference, the wire of a medium paper clip is 1 mm. We have had good results here in Florida with “rubber mulch”, but then we can get 6″ of rain in one day.

Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage
Paver Base or similar mediums slow water flow improving planter drainage

“Paver Base” is an acceptable readily available alternative from most large home improvement stores and will work in our planter liners with a side drain as the well below it provides a place for fines to settle.  Rubber mulch may also work for you.

Planter Drainage: Modern Solutions

Irrigation is Critical for Container Gardening

Spring Conditioning Planter Liners