Learn / Ask The Landscape Professional
Whenever I go to the nursery or look at an online plant catalog, I'm confused about plant container sizes. For example, I see plants sold in "1 gallon" pots, but the pots certainly don't look like they would hold "1 gallon." I also see pots labeled with numbers like #1. Can you help straighten this out for me? - Sarah
Sarah, I don't blame you for being confused; you've asked
a very good question. Hopefully, I can shed some light on it.
The containerized plant industry has been around for more
than 75 years, and there has been much variability in pots
of a given size from manufacturer to manufacturer which leads
to the confusion. Each manufacturer does it differently. Not
only has there been variability in size, the descriptions also
vary, i.e., some are described in "gallons," "quarts," etc.,
some are described by inches in pot diameter and some are
described by numbers, like #1, #2, etc. If that wasn't confusing
enough, the fact that "1 gallon" pots do not necessarily hold
1 gallon can have you pulling your hair out! Some help is on the
way in the form of "The American Standard for Nursery Stock"
(ANSI Z60.1), which was updated in 2014 by AmericanHort, the
largest association for garden retailers in the world. This standard
provides some consistency in terminology for both buyers and
sellers of plant material by using what are called "trade sizes,"
but even so there is a range in container volumes for a given trade
size. I've summarized below a very approximate relationship between
these various descriptions to give you a general idea.
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About Linda Lillie
Linda K. Lillie is the President of Sprigs & Twigs, Inc, the premier
landscape design and maintenance, tree care, lawn care, stonework, and carpentry
service provider in southeastern Connecticut since 1997. She is a graduate of
Connecticut College in Botany, a Connecticut Master Gardener and a national
award winning landscape designer for her landscape design and landscape installation work.