How To Choose The Best Container Garden Pot For Each Plant

August 12, 2020 by

Garden pots and planters come in a lot of sizes, shapes, styles and materials, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.

Whether yours is a small urban container garden or one that’s part of a large suburban patio, when it comes to choosing containers it’s a good idea to consider your plant’s needs as well as climate, sun exposure, mobility, and budget.

Begin by thinking about the plant’s size and growing requirements. Will you need containers that can tolerate a cold winter? If you live in USDA Zones 3-7, will you leave the planter outdoors when the temps grow frigid? If so, frost-safe materials are the best choice.

 

Exposure, Wind, and Mobility

How about the exposure–mostly direct sun or shade? Does your area experience long periods of heat, drought, or rain? These conditions will dictate whether you need to go with a porous material that dries out quickly or one that retains moisture. Might a strong gust of wind topple your planter? I didn’t anticipate that exact thing happening the other day to my pine tree in its large terracotta pot. I’m now exploring options for adding weight to the existing planter, but may need to repot it into a heavier concrete, cast stone or ceramic container –all pricier choices. If you’ll want to move the container often to chase the sun, then a mobile planter on casters would be a good option.

 

Each Material Has Its Benefits and Drawbacks

Whether you purchase a container or go for a more eco-friendly choice by repurposing a disused object, each type of container has its benefits and its drawbacks.

Terracotta and Clay

Ubiquitous terracotta––translated from the Italian word for baked earth––may be be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about garden pots. A material that dates back to the Stone Age, the traditional unglazed reddish-brown clay pots are fragile and highly porous, making them good choices depending on the particular environment.

Pros: As unglazed terracotta clay pots are porous, air penetrates the container’s walls allowing excess moisture to evaporate from the soil. This helps to maintain healthy plants by preventing root rot from over watering.

Cons: Unglazed pots are porous and dry out quickly, so plants in these pots will require more watering, however some that are glazed on inside and will retain more moisture. Large pots can be heavy, are fragile and break if dropped. The material does not tolerate frigid temps so best not to leave outside in winter.

Napa+Home+Aged+Terra_Cotta+Planter

Napa Home Aged Terra Cotta (7″)
$30.80


Terra Cotta Lion Planter (11.8″ x 15.7″)
$394

 

terra+cotta+fired+clay+outdoor+planter+potsw_with_saucers

Scalloped Clay Pots With Saucer
$24-$98

 

Glazed Terra Cotta / Ceramic

Referred to alternately as glazed terra cotta and ceramic, styles choices are as plentiful as the material’s functional qualities.

french_anduze_glazed_ceramic_pottery_urn_planter_pot

Hand Crafted Blue Ceramic French Anduze Urn Planter
Various sizes and prices.

French_anduze_glazed_ceramic_pottery_urn_outdoor_planter

Pros: Less porous than their unglazed terracotta clay cousins, they retain moisture and won’t dry out as quickly. The range of finishes and colors varies according to the origin and amount of iron in the clay as well as the particular firing method. Styles run the gamut from sleek contemporary designs in natural finishes to more ornate artisan varieties with colorful glossy glazes, typical of French Anduze pottery, still handcrafted today using ancient traditional methods.

Cons: They are very heavy and tend to be expensive. Although there are some durable Italian frost-proof varieties, most glazed terra cotta and ceramic pots will break from repeated freezing and thawing.

 

handmade_glazed_terra+cotta_planter_pot_for_outdoor_wall

Hand-Pressed Terracotta Glazed Pot With Flat Side (8″ x 9″ x 6″)
$35.99 & free shipping

outdoor_glazed_ceramic_planter_pot_container_garden
Earthy Glazed Ceramic Pot (21” x 21” x 21)
$410.00 Sale $355.99 + free shipping

 

Plastic

I’d always stayed away from plastic because I considered it tacky, however, manufacturing of this material has evolved quite a bit. These days one can find plastic that doesn’t look like plastic in highly decorative and stylish varieties masquerading as natural materials.

 

Fiskars_self_watering_fauz_terra_cotta_plastic_pot

Faux Terra Cotta Plastic Self-Watering Planter (10″)
$12.02 + free shipping

Pros: Extremely lightweight and they retain moisture. Great for freezing winters as they won’t crack and you can move them more easily indoors if needed. Plastic pots make great liners to place into a variety of other decorative containers.

Cons: They may look cheap, fade or become brittle. If planting edibles, be sure to use a food-grade stable plastic that won’t leach toxic chemicals. Though not the most beautiful, one choice is BPA free, five gallon and 2 gallon plastic buckets available at your local hardware store. If recycling, avoid plastics numbered 3, 6 and 7.

For convenience and mobility, consider a BPA-free and mobile grow box on casters such as the complete system from Earthbox or a self-watering raised bed garden from EMSCO .

earthbox_gardening_system_on_casters

Earthbox Maintenance-Free Self-Irrigating Complete Rolling Gardening System
$46.97

EMSCO Rolling Raised Garden Bed Grow Box Kit with Self Watering System.
$59.99 Sale $50.04

 

Faux Weathered Clay Double-Walled Plastic Planter Pot (14″)
$54.00 + free shipping

 

Fiberglass and Resin

Synthetic and lightweight like plastic, these weather-resistant containers are often mistaken for natural pots like terracotta, concrete, wood but are formed into a variety of shapes and styles using a mixture of fiberglass and resins.

 

faux_wicker_resin_outdoor_planter_pot

Resin Faux Wicker Basket Planter (15″)
$68.50

Pros: Durable and long lasting, often frost-resistant, and can pass as clay or ceramic pots, but are lightweight so can be more easily moved.

Cons: May not be economical, can sometimes cost as more expensive ceramic pots. The fiberglass material can slowly wear over time.

Set of Four Self Watering Resin Raised Bed Planters

Set of Four Elevated Self Watering Modular Raised Garden Planters (44. 9″ x 19. 4″ x 29. 8″) 
$119.99 Sale $109.99 + free shipping

 

lightweight_faux_concrete_planter

Lightweight Footed Outdoor Planter in Natural Concrete Finish (16″ x 16″ x 17″)
$70.51

faux_clay_resin_plastic_garden_planter_pot

Traditional Poly Resin Faux Clay Container (20″)
$54.95

faux_clay_weatherproof_resin_planter_pot

 

dachshund_concrete_outdoor_planter

Long and Low Dachshund Planter With Concrete Finish (23″  x 12.5″  x 7.5″) 
$47.39

 

blue_resin_faux_glased_clay_garden_planter_pot

Blue Resin Planter (15″)
$22.99

 

Concrete, Stone and Cast Stone

Concrete and cast stone containers are very heavy, so carefully plan where to place them. Although similar, cast stone is stronger than concrete and less permeable so it’s more weather-resistant. Their weight lessens the likelihood they will topple in the wind or get knocked over. Concrete won’t break down over time and lends itself well to damp climates as it can withstand prolonged rain and humidity.

stone_faccia_face_outdoor_indoor_planter

Stone Face Planter (16″ x 16″ x 10″, 40 lbs)
$199.99 + free shipping

stone_faccia_face_outdoor_planter

 

Pros: Durable and long lasting, they can tolerate harsh freezing temps, rain and humidity, strong winds and provide heat insulation during hot weather. They come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and styles, and can be pigmented.

Cons: Their weight makes them hard to move. If you plan to leave them outdoors in winter, choose those with tapered walls at least 1 1/2 inches thick as they will be lees likely to expand and crack in freezing temperatures. The lime in concrete or pots made with concrete may leach and increase the soil pH which can harm plants. Although it may only leach a small amount, it’s still a good idea to leave new concrete pots outdoors in the rain or water them frequently to let the lime to leach out before planting. Alternatively, you can use a plastic liner or apply a non toxic and eco-friendly concrete sealer to the inside of the pot.

embossed_cement_outdoor_planter_pot_container_garden
Embossed White Cement Planter (13.87″ x 11.87″, 18 lbs)
$49.99 Sale $24.99

cement_terrazzo_texture_outdoor_planter_set

Terrazzo Speckled Cement Planters (Set of Two)
$265 Sale $114

 

stone_tree_stump_outdoor_garden_planter

Stone Tree Stump Planter (17.25 x 15 x 15.75)
$209.00 + free shipping

genuine_stone_tree_stump_garden_planter

 

Fiber Cement / Lightweight Concrete

Commonly known as lightweight concrete, fiber cement or GFRC (glass fiber reinforced concrete) planters are cast in molds using a various composite materials made primarily of cement reinforced with strands of fiberglass and other aggregates.

Pros: Simulating the look and feel of natural stone, these pots are about a quarter of the weight and much less expensive than actual stone. They’re available in variety of shapes and natural finishes. Less porous than clay pots, they will retain more moisture.

Cons: Because these pots are made with concrete, they may also leach a small amount of lime into the soil.

 

polystone_lightweight_concrete_rectangular_wide_planter_box

Concrete Gray Modern PolyStone Rectangular Trough Planter (46″ x 19″)
$299 + free shipping


Weathered Basket Weave Lightweight Concrete Planter (22″ x 22″ x 22″)
$93 + free shipping

 

round_fiberstone_outdoor_planters

Round Lightweight Concrete Planter (17 x 17 x 12 inches, 19 lbs.)
$99

 

lightweigh_concrete_trough_planter_faux_wood_accent

Lightweight Concrete Planter Box With Wood Grain Feature (23 x 12 x 12, 28 lbs.)
$109.93

 

lightweight_cement_tall_square_planters_faux_wood_finish

Square Planter With Distressed Wood Finish (Set of 2, 9″ x 15″)
$99.95

Hypertufa

Generally a DIY project for the crafty, hypertufa containers are cast into molds from a mixture of Portland cementpeat moss, and perlite. Follow this step-by-step video to guide your project.

via Home Depot.

Pros: They make good DIY projects as they can be formed into a variety shapes and one can be creative by adding exterior textures using rope, leaves, and other items.

Cons: They require a few weeks to cure (soaking periodically with water and letting sit) to leach out the residual lime from the cement as it can harm the plants.

 

Wood

Prized for its natural look, wood planters don’t last forever but are durable especially if painted, stained and sealed. Teak, cedar, ipe, shorea, and redwood are among the most weather and rot resistant woods.

Pros A natural and relatively inexpensive material, containers made from suitable woods and well-maintained will last for a long time. The material lends itself to simple to construct DIY planters as well as repurposed ones from wine boxes and old crates, barrels, even discarded furniture like dresser drawers.

Cons: In order to last, they require maintenance like resealing from time to time, and when should be stored for winter without soil.

 

wood_raised_bed_garden_planter

Solid Wood Raised Bed Planter (40″ x 12″ x 12″)
$79.99 + free shipping

 

moible_raised_planter_with_shelf_and_liner

Mobile Elevated Raised Garden Bed With Storage Shelf and Liner (48″ x 24″ x 32″)
$119.99

 

Metal

Without a doubt rugged and durable, you’ll find them in galvanized steel (industrial tubs make good large planters), bronze, copper, cast iron, stainless steel, and my favorite–Corten steel that develops a gorgeous patina.

insulated_Corten_steel_long_box_planter

Insulated Corten Steel Long Box Planter (16″ x 10″ x 32″)
$159.99 + free shipping

 

Pros: Durable and long lasting, various styles can be interesting additions to many different style gardens and spaces.

Cons: Metal can get searingly hot. A scorching container will be hot to touch and can stress plants and damage the roots. To protect the plant, place a plastic liner pot inside on top of 1 to 2 inches of gravel, leaving a one inch gap between the liner and the metal to allow air to circulate, heat to dissipate, and moisture to evaporate.  Like containers made of other materials, light colors reflect heat better than dark colors and large planters will heat up less than small ones. Consider placing a metal planter in a location that doesn’t get full hot sun for long periods, add a layer of insulating mulch to the top to conserve moisture, and water frequently to keep soil moist and cool.

 

Ivory_cast_iron_garden_urn
Large Heirloom Ancient Ivory Authentic Cast Iron Garden Urn (20″ x 20″ x 26″, 80 lbs.)
$551.79

 

rusted_metal_weather_resistant_urn_planter

Large Weather-Resistant Rustic Metal Urn Planter (15.75″ x 15.75″ x 18″)
$59.99 + free shipping

 

 

galvanized_steel_planter_set_of_three

French Country Style Galvanized Corrugated Metal Planters (Set of 3: 17-12 inches)
$199.00 + free shipping

 

Textile Grow Bags

When I saw them several years ago at the design trade show Maison et Objet in Paris, I feel immediately in love with the French brand Bacsac’s  textile planters. Since then many textile planters have emerged on the market, all generally made from various types of lightweight BPA-free, double layered breathable and felt-like fabric, similar to landscaping fabric. Designs range from the very basic to bag to more elaborate versions sporting handles, Velcro straps and zippers. They vary in size from three to 100 gallons–but you can always begin by recycling a fabric grocery bag into a planter without shelling out a dime.

bacsa_square_textile_planter_fabric_garden_pot
Bacsac Square Reusable Geotextile Planter (23.5″ x 23.5″)

Pros: Good quality textile planter bags are durable, portable, and reusable. The breathable material promotes air pruning to accelerate plant growth by enabling feeder roots to absorb more nutrients and water. With excellent drainage, the fabric also provides a physical barrier that helps to protect the plant’s root system from diseases and pests. It’s often the material of choice for indoor and outdoor vertical garden systems use to create living green walls.

Cons: Soil-filled bags over 20 gallons can be hard to move and may be more subject to breakage as they don’t have the structural strength of traditional rigid pots.

 

root_pouch_reusable_textile_fabric planter_bag_with_handles

Root Pouch Resusable 15 Gallon Bag With Handles (various colors)
$17.47

 

Or…get your hands on one of these biodegradable, washable kraft paper shopping bags and turn it into a planter. With its handles, you can hang it or group several together to create a vertical garden.

washable_kraft_paper_shopping_bag_planter_pot

Washable Reusable Biodegradable Kraft Paper Bag With Cotton Canvas Handles (8″ x 12″ x 13″)
$13.99

4 Comments »

  1. Choosing the right container for your plant – Agriculture Monthly Pingback said:

    […] (Source link)  […]

    — August 20, 2020 @ 05:00

  2. Sabrina Cavanagh said:

    Since the pandemic started, I appreciate planting even more. Only this time, I stopped planting ornamentals and focus on fruits and veggies. Since the virus is spreading everywhere, I prefer giving my family fresh and healthy food because right now our strong defense is our strong immune system. Aside from having a healthy diet, our family also take multivitamins and we have our medicine bag filled with basic medicine that we usually buy in the drug store. We have decided to have our medicine bag to avoid going outside whenever we need any kind of medicine. We’d like to take extra precautions. Aside from growing your food, I suggest everyone to have your medicine bag too. You check this link for you to choose the kind of bag that you like. https://cardinalbagsupplies.com/product-category/medication-bags/. Stay safe guys!

    — September 21, 2020 @ 09:22

  3. Chintan Poriya said:

    Styles run the gamut from sleek contemporary designs in natural finishes to more ornate artisan varieties with colorful glossy glazes, typical of French Anduze pottery, still handcrafted today using ancient traditional methods.

    Cons: They are very heavy and tend to be expensive.

    Although there are some durable Italian frost-proof varieties, most glazed terra cotta and ceramic pots will break from repeated freezing and thawing.

    — September 26, 2020 @ 04:30

  4. How To Choose The Best Container Garden Pot For Each Plant – Urban Gardens | TripWriters Pingback said:

    […] Whether yours is a small urban container garden or one that’s part of a large suburban patio, when it … Read More… […]

    — October 13, 2020 @ 13:15

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