Empty pots make me anxious

If you're anything like me, you have lots of these:

Mind you, what you see above is just a small quantity of the empty nursery cans in the backyard. I do reuse the square pots and the green pots regularly but the 1-gallon pots really can go. I have every intention of taking them to a local nursery that accepts used nursery containers, but I haven't quite yet made it to the "get of your ass and do it" stage.

But what I want to talk about in this post are the kinds of pots you see in the next set photos: the "good" pots. They may be dusty and a bit dirty but they're perfectly serviceable and look decent when cleaned up.

Last week a neighbor asked me if she could bring me some of her pots. She'd given up on keeping plants in pots because they need to be watered so often, which required more time than she has in her busy life. I said yes, expecting a few small pots. Much to my surprise she brought at least a dozen clay pots. Below are just some of them:

It's not like I didn't have enough empty pots already, staring at me like a hungry shark with its mouth wide open:

More in the backyard, together with lots of little aloes and agaves waiting to go... well, waiting to go somewhere.

Ah, I forgot about these:

I do feel a sense of satisfaction because I have started to replant the large pots under the bay trees in the backyard. Very little will grow in the ground because the hungry roots of the trees suck up all the water. That's why pots are the way to go to bring pops of green into what is fairly dense shade, especially right under the trees. We're keeping the lower branches trimmed to allow some light in.

But there's still several large pots waiting to be put into service

For many, empty pots represent opportunities to plant new things. I agree, at least in theory. However, everytime I walk by a gaggle of pots that sit there unusued, I feel like I'm being scolded for not putting them to use. Talk about a Protestant work-ethic guilt complex!

It's not like I don't have enough plants, although admittedly most would be too small to put in large pots. 

The real problem is that I wouldn't know what to do with all those planted pots since they take up quite a bit more space than plants in the ground. Pots with plants require attention; they can't simply be stacked and shoved into a neglected corner. 

So what's the best solution? Sort through the "good" pots and rehome the ones I most likely won't use? Or just stack them all somewhere and throw a tarp over them so I don't see them? Or plant them up, at least some of them? A combination of all three options?

How many empty pots do you have? Do they also cause you to fret like I do? Or do I need therapy?

Maybe retail therapy to buy more pots and/or plants!

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  1. A simple answer : buy more plants. I find that solves a lot of life problems when you think about it. Perhaps a more serious answer: I've found that if I clean them off, and have them neatly organized somewhere, even empty pots can be garden art, or at least not cause anxiety...

  2. I feel slightly agitated by your photos, only because your biggest stack is only 2 pots high! I say pile those things up!

    I also feel nervous when I don't have empty pots around, because I always end up needing some during the summer!

  3. You clearly need more plants! My own clay pot collection diminished substantially when the lath house went in as most of what's in there went into pots. Hey, maybe you need a lath or greenhouse! Going vertical with tiered plant shelves also helps.

  4. Offer them on Davis Freecycle. That way they will be used by someone who needs them, and won't be languishing in dark corners of your yard, inducing guilt!

  5. Ha, I am definitely not the best person to advise on this topic. Sadly, I continue to buy more. How c an you have 50 empty pots and not one of them is quite the right shape/size ? I did make an effort to organize them last fall, and will do so again-the stacking option is worthwhile and helps reduce their footprint.

  6. actually - I don't feel so bad now.

  7. Don't even ask, my pile is huge, but then I keep them from new landscape installations as well. For me, it's the 2/3/5/7/15 gallon sized black nursery cans that prove most useful as I constantly move long term container plants up to next larger sizes. Unglazed terra cotta pots I seldom use, but do have a diverse collection of glazed terra cotta. Too many to count, just like too many plants in pots to count...

  8. You are not alone!

    I made decorative towers out of my empty ceramic/clay pots. Well, sort of decorative. Trying to be decorative. Not entirely succeeding.

    Many a garden tour have I been on where the gardener has made a beautiful arrangement of them on shelves by the potting bench. Wish I could do that!

  9. He who dies with the most pots wins. I also have a few, a relative term, more pots than I need but it's comforting to know that if a plant suddenly needs repotting, we're prepared. I get a little nervous when the potting soil can or the pot supply looks low. I second Kris's comment - more plants and a greenhouse!


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