Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot Garden Containers

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots
Product Review

For quite a fews years I've been happily growing my perennial plants in various Air-Pot sizes as a way to train them before planting. When I first purchased my Air-Pots from Amazon.com, the pricing wasn't too bad. And I was quite content with the variety of sizes offered.

Fast forward several years and it's now easy to find cheap, imitation knock-offs. These are not the genuine Air-Pots from Superoots (which cost quite a bit more on Amazon). But these alternate products are readily available, at lower costs. The problem is, they're greatly inferior in quality. In this confusing environment of air-pruning pots options, I've become acquainted with the Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots sold by HTGSupply.com. How do these pots compare to the original Air-Pots?

20 Gallon Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot vs Air-Pot
This massive 20 gallon Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot has a much wider base than other air pruning containers.

Why Should You Buy Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots?

If you've read my Superoots Air-Pots review, you know that I really like them. However, the largest size commonly available is only 5.6 gallons. This is a decent size for most applications. But if you want to grow really large trees, you might find yourself looking for something bigger. That happened to be the case for me.

When I researched optimal pot sizes for dwarf fruit trees, I was seeing recommendations for 20 to 30 gallons! This is what led me to research some of Superoots' competitors. Ultimately this led me to the 20 gallon Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot. Actually, I was able to modify mine to get a whopping 26 gallons of capacity! But I'll explain how I achieved this in a bit.

The bottom line is that Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots offers a significant size advantage over traditional, consumer-grade Air-Pots. And it just so happens that the Ultra Oxy versions cost quite a bit less. So it might be worth buying them for the money savings alone. But certainly, it's worth it if you want a larger air-pruning pot. Of course, none of that means anything if the Ultra Oxy pots are poorly constructed. So let's talk about the build quality of these Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots.

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Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots
Review & Tutorial + Hack!

See how these less expensive Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots compare the original Superoots Air-Pots

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot: Build Quality

WHAT TYPE OF PLASTIC? Anytime you're considering a plastic air pruning pot, the first thing to consider is what type of plastic it is made from. From what I've seen, some cheap, low grade pots are made from PVC plastic. Some of these pots have shown very poor durability, especially when used outdoors. So I always look for air-pruning pots that are HDPE. Fortunately, these Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots are HDPE, so that's a good start.

WHAT GAUGE OF PLASTIC? In addition to the type plastic, you also need to compare the thickness. In this regard, the Air-Pot is a clear winner. It has the thickest, most durable plastic construction out of any air pruning pots I've seen. That means these will hold up well, year after year, despite repeated use in an outdoors setting. The Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots are clearly thinner. This makes the sidewalls more flimsy when handling. And it's hard to say how well they will hold up in the long term.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot vs Air-Pot Plastic Thickness
Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots (TOP) cannot compete against the thickness of Superoots Air-Pots (BOTTOM).

As a general observation, I've noticed a few cosmetic defects in the plastic sidewalls of the Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots. Although the entire sidewall is designed to have holes, there were holes in spots where they shouldn't be. These weren't a sign of damage or accidental perforation. Rather, they seem to be the result of an incomplete extrusion process. It's not the end of the world, but just another indicator of inferior build quality.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot Holes Defects in Sidewalls
If this was any other type of plastic pot, these hole defects would be completely unacceptable.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot: Design Flaws

The authentic Superoots Air-Pot is a trademarked product, which I assume has some sort product patent. So if competitors are going to make knock offs, you should expect that there will be some basic differences in design ti avoid infringement claims. Some differences, such as the type of screw fasteners, is nothing to worry about.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot vs Air-Pot Bolt Fastener Comparison
The Ultra Oxy bolt fasteners (RIGHT) have a hex head and a thinner plastic shaft, making them more brittle.

SIDEWALL OVERLAP: When you assemble an Air-Pot, there is a long angled edge of cones that overlap to create a complete cylinder for the sidewall. Imitation air pruning pots typically have a straight cut, 90 degree edge of overlap. This results in a slight reduction in seam strength. However, this is not as concerning as the thinner gauge plastic that is used.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot vs Air-Pot - Sidewall Angled vs Straight
The Ultra Oxy sidewall is cut at 90°, but Air-Pots have an angled overlap, making for a stronger seam.

PLASTIC BASE DESIGN: One distinctive difference that sets Ultra Oxy pots apart is the bottom plastic base. The Air-Pots are designed to have a tiny round dome that directs any tap roots to one of the square holes, causing it to be air pruned. The larger Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots have a larger center cup shape. This creates good structure and helps to hold the base of the 20 gallon pot off of the ground. However, this central cup has no slits or perforations. As a result, there's nothing to stop the tap root from circling round and round. It defeats the purpose of an air pruning pot. Fortunately, the potential zone of circling is fairly small. If you're growing an outdoor perennial, you can simply cut off that center root mass before planting it in the ground.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot vs Air-Pot Round Base Plate Designs
The 7 gallon Ultra Oxy base plate (RIGHT) is very sturdy, but the center pocket can trap tap roots allowing them to circle.

PRUNING HOLES: It's clear that the Ultra Oxy pots undergo a different manufacturing process for creating their pruning holes. The Superoots Air-Pots have large diameter openings on the sidewalls. The holes are cleanly cut with the appearance of being mechanically machined off. But the smaller Ultra Oxy holes are punched into the plastic through a melting process. This leaves behind a jagged lip around each hole. In theory, this might impact the direction of root growth at the opening. Most likely though, the potting mix would stop short of these deformities. I would still expect normal root pruning to occur. But design-wise it's an inferior approach.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot vs Air-Pot Sidewall Hole Comparison
The Air-Pot (LEFT) has much cleaner air-pruning holes which are also wider diameter than the Ultra Oxy holes.

Massive Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot: 26 Gallon Hack!

Although I love the wide diameter of the 20 gallon Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot, the sidewalls are only 12 inches deep. Once you attach the base, you lose 2 inches of internal depth. This leaves your plant with a mere 10 inches of root depth. This might be fine for some plants. But I wanted to grow a bare root fruit tree. For this application 10 inches just doesn't cut it!

I noticed thought that the 7 gallon Ultra Oxy pots have a 16 inch tall sidewall. That extra 4 inches makes a big difference. I wondered if there might be some way to combine the diameter of the 20 gallon pot with the height of the 7 gallon versions. After doing some math, I realized that two 7 gallon sidewalls, attached end-to-end, should be the same length as a single 20 gallon sidewall. In seemed good in concept. So I rolled the diced and ordered a few pots...

Attaching Two 7 Gallon Ultra Oxy Sidewalls Together with Tape & Zip Ties
I was able to use black duct tape and zip ties to attach two 7 gallon sidewalls, end-to-end.

I laid out the two 7 gallon sidewalls and found the ends that seemed to best match up. It was a fairly impressive, seamless transition from the one to the other. Next I applied small strips of black duct tape, in a cross weave pattern. I was careful to firmly press the tape into the indentations for good contact. Then I flipped the sidewalls over and taped the other side as well. Finally, I used two zip ties at the top and also the bottom to provide extra reinforcement. I was careful not to overtighten the ties.

Gallon Ultra Oxy Sidewalls 7 Gallon vs 20 Gallon
These two 7 gallon sidewalls gave me much more root depth that the original 20 gallon sidewall.

Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot Final Review:

Selecting a good air pruning plastic pot has become a little more complicated in recent years. Although I've always liked my Air-Pots, I'm not very satisfied with their distribution techniques here in the US. Amazon sellers have been price gouging customers. And although you can find pictures of huge trees growing in Air-Pots, they don't seem to have proper pots that exceed the 12 gallon range.

Potting Up Large Fruit Tree Into Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot
This massive Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot is a perfect size for my dwarf apple tree!

For these reasons, I think the Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pots fill a vital niche. As far as build quality goes, I would probably only give them 4 stars. But they definitely get 5 stars from a value perspective. The Ultra Oxy pots are worth buying if you're on a tight budget, especially if need a larger quantity. And of course, if you're looking for an extra large air pruning pot, with a sturdy base, then the 20 gallon Ultra Oxy Air Pruning Pot is a nice option. I wish they would offer a version with a taller 16 inch sidewall.

Regardless, just remember that those large sizes will become quite cumbersome and difficult to move around. You'll need some sort of plant trolley to get the job done...

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