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Smart Pots vs Air Pots vs Spring Pots – A Comprehensive Guide

Smart Pots, Air Pots & Spring Pots - A Comprehensive Guide

I’ve been using smart pots and air pots for years, but I recently swapped to spring pots.

The change was inspired by the need for better plant transportation, better watering, decreased marijuana growing risk, and generally a much less stressful growing season. A spring pot offers that and much more.

However, I’ve to admit that the spring pots haven’t been the magical panacea I was hoping for.

I still miss some of the benefits of my old smart pots, such as a bigger growing cannabis capacity and better aeration.

But either way, I understand it’s challenging to find an all-around solution. After all, you always have to put up with several compromises.

However, depending on your plant growing priorities, you may find that some pots will cater to your needs better than others.

And if you’re torn between smart pot, air pot, or spring pot, I’m excited to share the differences.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve had experiences with all three different pots for growing cannabis plants and other plants, and I’ll detail the differences below.

Hopefully, by the end of our comparison guide, you’ll be better positioned to pick the ideal spot for your growing plant needs.

Smart Pots in a plant garden

Differences Between Smart Pots, Air Pots, and Springs Pots

The main difference between the smart pots, air pots, and spring pots is mostly physical.

Air pots are taller/ slimmer and made out of plastic. In contrast, the smart and spring pots are generally wider/shorter and made out of felt-like fabric.

But that’s not the only difference. Read on to discover more differences between these containers.

Comparing Smart Pots, Air Pots, and Spring Pots (Differences)

In the section below, I’ll detail and compare the differences between these three pots to make your selection decision much easier.

But before anything, understand that a spring pot and smart pot share more similarities than air pots.

In my opinion, a spring pot is a step-up version of the smart pot.

The smart pots also share some similarities with the air pots, so they’re the perfect compromise between the two pot designs.

They’re the “sweet spot,” offering all the benefits of the other two pot designs.

Now, without further ado, let’s get the rubber hitting the road.

  • Material/Fabric

One of the distinguishing features of the three pots is the choice of material.

Both smart pots and spring pots, also known as fabric pots, are designed from a floppy felt-like fabric, while the spring pots sport a plastic, rigid design.

However, spring pots have colored stitching at the rims.

Understand, that the choice of material affects the portability of the plant.

For example, plastic pots’ solid and rigid plastic design will make it easier and less dangerous for cannabis growers to transport and move their plants.

That isn’t the case with the felt fabric because it feels sloppy, flimsy, and clumsy to move around.

But as we mentioned, the spring pots have a lining on the rims to make handling much better than a smart pot, but not so much as the air pot.

Simply put, if you’ll be transferring your plants frequently, an air pot is an inspiring option because of the ease of use and better handling. The spring pots then follow, and the last option should be the smart pot.

  • Size/Shape

The second difference between the three pots is the size and shape.

Size and shape affect the types of plants that can grow in a pot and the standing location.

In this department, the results are mixed because there’s no clear winner. The idealness of one size/shape over the other depends on your growing priorities.

The smart pots have the widest base of the three and are generally available in larger sizes.

A wider shape is necessary for providing more lift to the plant and is perfect for growing large plants and more plants.

The smart pot’s base and size are so large that some outdoor cannabis growers plant their weed in the large smart pots since they support growing better than on the ground.

The large smart pot size is also instrumental in adding to the overall stability of the plants. You can forget your indoor plants toppling or falling on you.

On the other hand, air pots are generally taller and slimmer than spring pots and smart pots.

I find them awesome for stuffing a bunch of plants in a smaller space.

Unfortunately, the air pot plants tend to fall over because of their slimmer base. They’ve a low center of gravity, and if they’re placed in an elevated position and with full-grown plants, they’re likely to fall over.

The spring pot offers a nice compromise between the wider base and tall design. Their shape is perfect for those with a moderate space but not real estate and need to grow more plants.

  • Saucer

Smart pots lack a saucer due to their big size and wide shape.

So, if you plan to use a smart pit indoors, consider investing in a tray or the extra-large third-party saucers or holders to capture the runoff water.

On the other hand, the fabric pots are generally high and slim and usually come with stock saucers.

If your package doesn’t have one, you could also use the normal size sauce or regular tray to capture the runoff water.

  • Watering

The ease of watering is also a crucial consideration when selecting the ideal pot.

The air pots are the most challenging to the water in the three-pot designs.

First, you need to consider how plant pots seep water. Usually, most of the pot water seeps sideways.

But because the air pots have large drainage holes and are not a fabric, they’re more likely to lose water than the spring or smart pots. The air pots dry faster than other pots meaning they need more frequent watering.

The ideal watering can for the air pot be at least double the size of what you would need with a spring or smart pot. I have a 5-gallon plastic container size for my air pots.

Another huge challenge with the air pots is soil erosion.

See, when watering your plants on an air pot, there’s the likelihood of the strong water flow pushing the growing medium, root, nutrients, and other debris from the pot.

Interfering with the plant roots or even the nutritional composition may compromise your plants’ root health and structural integrity.

If you need to water your air pot plants, I’d suggest using low-impact techniques such as the drip line. It’ll ensure that water flow doesn’t erode the growing medium away.

While the spring and smart pots don’t face the soil erosion issue, the difference in the fabric between the material is what separates them.

See, spring pots have an extra rigidity on the top lining. It’s a helpful feature for preventing the pot from folding over or crumbling during filling or watering.

Again, a spring fabric pot has the added advantage of the propensity to hold water more than the smart pots.

Therefore, the spring pots are the clear winner of the three picks.

It doesn’t lose water or dry as much as the other two; it doesn’t crumble or fold when water, and finally, it doesn’t lose growing medium, soil, or nutrients to watering.

  • Aeration & Oxygen Access

The rigid plastic on an air pot is, in my opinion, its signature feature but may also be its greatest undoing.

See, the hard plastic design doesn’t provide room for proper aeration and free oxygen flow. The main air access to and from the roots comes from the large plastic holes, which isn’t sufficient, especially for the larger plants.

On the other hand, the fabric pots are preferred by those growing cannabis plants because they allow maximum and free airflow to the root zone.

  • Ease of Air Pruning

The distinct advantage of the air pots, at least in my opinion, is the ability to air prune the roots and avoid the roots from getting bound to the pot.

Air pots usually have large holes on the sides, so it’s easier for the roots to naturally propagate through air pruning. Once exposed to the air, the plant roots are effectively “burned” off, allowing the plant to constantly produce new ones.

This is unlike the smart and spring pots, where the roots may spiral, kink, strangle or twist because of the lack of space to naturally propagate.

Of course, it may not always happen with all plants and fabric pots. The occurrence and severity of plants forming an abnormal root structure will also depend on the size of the plant vis-à-vis the size of the container, duration in containment, type of fabrics, and types of plant root.

Similarities Between Smart Pots Vs. Air Vs. Spring Pots

Smart Air and Spring pots comparison
Vegetables Hydroponics farming in farmland background. Organic food and Healthy concept. New technology and Modern agriculture. Smart farming theme. Nature and Environment theme.

There’re not many similarities between the three pots.

But we can start with the bottom line that all the three-pot designs are containers in which flowers and plants can be cultivated, grown, and displayed.

They may also double up as nurseries for seedlings, up to the full-grown plants.

The self-containers also offer plants convenient and easy to grow, especially if you’re out of space and can’t grow outdoors.

Best Plant Pot for Cannabis Plants

Cannabis is among the popular plants grown in a plant container or pot.

And the truth of the matter is every pot design has a unique benefit over the other and may address the growing needs of one user more than the other.

We’ll also compare the growing potential of cannabis plants to the regular plant pot and see how it measures up against the other three.

Regular Pot for Cannabis Growing

The regular pot is just as its name suggests. You can find regular cannabis-growing containers, conventional containers, or plastic containers in nearly any gardening store.

These pots are usually made from ceramic or plastic. You can even DIY your pot using a home water gallon or bucket.

You simply need to make drain holes on a regular bucket for excess water drainage and fill it with a growing medium.

The good thing with the ceramic pots is they’re tried and tested. They’re a traditional option that has been around for quite some time and can help with proper plant growth.

Plus, the regular plant pot allows growers to fit a couple of plants in a small space.

However, using smaller pots makes it easy for the plants to get root-bound, and root rot is probably the biggest risk.

The hard plastic means there’s no escape route for the cannabis roots. Instead, the roots may start to spiral over and stunt the growth of the root-bound plants.

Air Pots, Smart Pots, and Spring Pots for Growing Cannabis

I’ve used all three air pruning pots to grow cannabis, and I can say they’re all amazing and way better than regular pots.

The greatest benefit of these air pruning pots is eliminating the chances of the plants getting root bound in the small container.

Remember, air pots have holes where roots can find their way out (air pruning), while the breathable felt fabric on the smart and spring pots is friendly for root penetration.

The commercial gardening pots are effective, especially during the vegetative growth stages of your cannabis plants, and will allow the free flow of air to the roots from all sides.


Air Pots Vs. Smart Pot Vs. Spring Pot Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q: Are air pots better than Smart Pots?

A: None is better than the other. They’re completely different animals, and the ideal option will depend on your priorities.

Q: Are Smart Pots worth it?

A: Yes, a smart pot makes a worthy purchase, especially if you need faster and more controlled plant growth.

Q: Does a Smart Pot increase yield?

A: Yes, the felt fabric on these pots increases the plant ad cannabis yields by improving the water & nutrient absorption and allowing air pruning.

Q: Are air pots reusable?

A: Air pots and plastic pots are reusable and last for a long time. They’re usually designed from durable hard plastic.

Wrap Up

We’ve come to the end of our comparison guide, and I hope you’ve decided on what pot to choose.

While each container design has benefits and drawbacks, there’s a clear winner; the spring pot.

Hear me out.

The spring containers are the perfect compromise between the two container types, so you get the best of both worlds.

It allows for better transportation, easy growing marijuana and watering, nice airflow, and more robust root growth.

Of course, depending on your planting priorities and needs, you may find the smart or air pot a better option.

But if you’re undecided or still new to the plant container growing scene, a spring pot will certainly serve you better.

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Lisa Hayden-Matthews

Lisa Hayden-Matthews

A bike rider, triathlon enthusiast, amateurish beach volleyball player and nature lover who has never lost a dare! I manage the overall Editorial section for the magazine here and occasionally chip in with my own nature photographs, when required.

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