Jules Kendall shares the sweet and savory at her blog, Pancakes and French Fries. She almost never writes about food. Instead, she focuses on her improving her health, decluttering and simplifying her home, and life with two loud boys and one quiet husband. She is the creator of The William Morris Project, a weekly series that encourages people to have nothing in their home they do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.
You don't need a green thumb to keep houseplants alive. And, while there are nice to have, you don't need light, moisture, and ph meters to maintain a home full of green. What you do need is to accept that houseplants are like pets and small children. They need regular care and attention, and there's no way to get around it if you want your plants to live for more than a few weeks. (I'm not going to lie: I still want the light, moisture, and ph meters.)
You can say the same about potting benches. You can use the floor, your kitchen counters, or even your dining room table. You don't need a potting table, but if you're serious about keeping plants alive, a good table will make your gardening life infinitely easier and more enjoyable.
You should repot fast growing plants like the golden pothos (Scindapsus aures) every year. The fiddle leaf fig—aka the blogger tree—is another fast growing plant you should repot yearly until it reaches a size you're happy with or the next pot size up is too big for your space, whichever comes first. Slower growing plants can go two to three years without a new pot, but the point is that repotting is unavoidable. Most of that repotting should happen during the slow growing season, usually winter and early spring, but year-round care isn't unheard of, especially if you live in a warmer climate.
A designated area for your repotting saves your back from stooping over low work surfaces (like a dining room table), is more sanitary than using your kitchen counters, and can double as an outdoor bar if you're limited on space.
What To Consider When Shopping For Potting Benches
When shopping for potting benches, consider the type of gardener you are and keep that in mind when you decide on height, material, and surface.
The most common height for potting benches is 36 inches, the same as kitchen counters. However. potting benches do come in various heights. The goal is to avoid stooping and strain on your back, particularly since you'll be working with heavy pots and containers of soil. If 36 inches is too short, look for benches with an adjustable height mechanism. Or buy something with heavy-duty casters, like the Home Styles Bali Hai Wood Potting Bench. The casters add an additional 5 inches in height and make the bench easy to move in and out of the shade.
Potting benches are typically outdoor pieces of furniture. They get wet and dirty. They see the heat of summer and the cold of winter. This seems obvious, but if you are someone who doesn't like the look of weathered wood—teak turns a pretty silvery grey—you're better off with a powder coated metal or galvanized steel potting bench. Both of these materials conveniently allow you to hose them clean and air dry in the sun. A word of caution: powder coated material will need a coat of poly every year or so to prevent rust.
Ideally, you can buy a potting bench with as large a table surface possible; just like in a kitchen, you can never have enough counter space. If space isn't an issue, there are plenty of large benches available. If your need for space is infrequent, consider a bench with an extending tabletop. If you really want to spread out, skip the potting bench idea and buy a garage workbench.
The potting benches linked to in this post and featured along the side rail to the right only scratch the surface of what's available today. There are benches that fold flat for storage, benches with storage cubbies, and indoor/outdoor benches. If you want it, it's probably available and waiting for you to break it in this spring, assuming the end of winter is somewhere in sight!