Which Pot is Best for Your Plants?

Container gardens are easy and convenient for those who live in small spaces and for gardeners on the go. Though, they can be utilized in other ways: Potted plants are an excellent alternative in areas where the soil is poor and they add color and charm to any deck, patio, or entryway.

Another great thing about pots is that they come in various shapes, sizes, styles, and materials. This makes it easy for you to choose a type of pot to match the style and architecture of your home. But, before you make a purchase, you will need to consider the following: Material and projected plant size at maturity.

Before planting, make sure that your chosen pot will provide enough room for your plant’s roots to grow freely without inhibiting its growth. Large, rounded pots are ideal for shrubs and small ornamental trees, while small, mug-sized pots are optimal for succulents. It’s actually quite possible to plant an ornamental tree in a pot, but do keep in mind that pots – even large ones — are best suited to plants that have shallow roots.

Make sure that your pot has drainage holes before installing the soil and plant. If not, drill a couple of holes into the bottom.

Another thing to consider when shopping for pots is material. This can be based on your style preferences and budget, but not all material is created the same. Some materials are more durable than others, while others require more maintenance.

Here is a list of the most common materials, as well as their benefits and disadvantages.

Terracotta

Photo by Zenyrgarden, Wiki Commons

Terracotta pots come in all shapes and sizes and are available in a vast array of colors, which makes it easy to match the color scheme and architecture of your home. They are also relatively inexpensive.

Glazed terracotta pots are more porous and allow for more air to pass through to plant roots, but they also tend to absorb moisture from the soil. This means that you will have to water much more frequently, especially throughout the summer months. They are also prone to frost damage, so if you choose terracotta pots for your plants, you will need to have the space available in your home, shed or greenhouse – if you have one – where you can overwinter your plants. Another option if terracotta is your preferred choice of pots: Plant an array of annuals for vibrance and color.

Wood And Baskets

Photo by Andy, Wiki Commons

Wood is a fantastic choice because of its natural look, especially if you’re going for a cottage-themed style for your garden. Wood is also porous, frost-proof, and it acts as a good insulator for plant roots.

When looking for wooden pots, check the label to make sure that the timber comes from a sustainable forest. A label carrying the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) logo indicates that the timber was sustainably, ethically, and legally logged. If in doubt, ask your local garden center clerk.

The only drawback to wooden pots and baskets is that wood decays quickly. In order to prolong its life, it must be painted or treated with a preservative. The residue from a paint or other preservative can leach into the soil which is toxic for plants. To prevent this from happening, you can line the inside of your wooden pot or basket with plastic.

Metal

Photo by Potterybarn.com

Metal is a popular choice for how versatile and inexpensive it is. It comes in a vast variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. You can opt for a rustic utilitarian-style pot for a cottage-themed garden, or a galvanized and/or powder-coated metal container if the minimalist urban-themed garden is your preferred style.

Metal containers do have drawbacks though. Thin metal containers offer plant roots no insulation which makes them vulnerable to overheating and frost damage. Galvanized and powder-coated metal will rust if not taken care of properly and that rust can leach into the soil. Even steel will corrode over time and leave rusty stains on lightly colored surfaces.

If you prefer metal containers, make sure to keep them out of direct sunlight during the spring and summer months, and stored in a cool, dry place where your plants are shielded from frost and your pots are protected from the elements. You can also line your metal containers with plastic in order to prevent corrosion from moist soil.

Stone And Concrete

Photo by Acabashi, Wiki Commons

Stone and concrete are optimal choices for plants because of how durable they are. They are strong, frost-proof, and insulating for plant roots. They are also versatile when it comes to style and will compliment any type of garden.

The only drawbacks to stone and concrete are that they are expensive and they are extremely heavy. For the latter, you will need to make double sure your stone or concrete pot is placed in the right area – for your plants and according to your chosen design – before installing soil and plants.

If you have the budget for stone or concrete pots, they are well worth it because they will last you for years. This may actually help save you money in the long run.

Synthetics

Photo by Charlton Home

Synthetic materials are made up of the following: Plastic, polymer, fiberglass, and resins. Pots made from any of these materials come in the widest range of colors, and can be used creatively to compliment and enhance every interior and exterior style.

Synthetic pots are also extremely durable; they are hard to break, frost-proof, and inexpensive. These types of pots are most convenient if you have pets and children. In any case, they are well worth the investment.

A Takeaway

Potted plants are convenient and easy to care for. Both plants and pots add color, vibrance, character, and charm to every outdoor space.

Before you make any decision on which type of pots to buy, familiarize yourself with the different types of pots and how to properly care for them. Pots are just as much an investment as are plants, but the right pots for your plants are well worth it.

Sources Used

Dunford, Chauney, Becky Shackleton, and Zia Allaway, editors. How to Grow Practically

Everything: 100s of Gardening Projects Absolutely Anyone Can Do. London; New York;

 Munich; Melbourne; Delhi; Jonathan Metcalf, 2010.

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