Choosing Containers For Potted Environments

Containers are available in nearly any color, size or style imaginable. Tall pots, short pots, hanging baskets and more. When it comes to choosing containers for your garden, indoors or out, how do you know which one is best? Let’s take a look at choosing containers for potted environments.

Choosing the Best Container for Gardening

Tall pots are best suited for deep-rooted plants, shrubs or small trees. Small pots are ideal for shallow-rooted plants and flowering bulbs. Trailing and cascading plants or vines are excellent additions for hanging baskets.

Then there are the other alternate choices. From bowls and boxes to barrels, wicker baskets and old boots, nearly anything can be used to accommodate plant life. As long as there are adequate drainage holes and a flat bottom, you really shouldn’t worry so much about choosing the best container for gardening. This is more or less up to the individual and his or her creativity.

Common Types of Containers

There are, however, differences amongst the most commonly used pots on the market. Taking note of these differences can make your selection easier for those new to the gardening realm. For instance, sturdy pots last nearly forever and work well in outdoor elements.

Clay Pots – Clay pots are porous, allowing air to easily pass through. They are quite sturdy as far as tipping over; however, they break easily. Since clay pots are porous, plants dry out faster and frequent watering may be necessary. Nonetheless, these pots are good for keeping roots cool and are ideal for growing drought-tolerant plants.

Stone Containers – Concrete or stone pots are also extremely durable and well suited as permanent fixtures for outdoors. They are frost proof, so breaking is less of an issue. As these are quite heavy, they are good for windy areas but require continual watering. Their weight can make them difficult to move around, however, and are unsuitable for areas such as balconies or rooftops. Small shrubs and trees are ideal for this type of container.

Decorative Ceramic Pots – Glazed ceramic comes in many different styles and colors. They can be quite decorative and more expensive as a result. Since glazed ceramic pots are generally smaller and more decorative, they are normally used indoors for houseplants. They also break easily.

Metal Pots – Metal pots are good for displaying plants indoors or out but will eventually rust after some time, especially in outdoor elements. Metal containers also get quite hot outdoors so placement should be in shady areas. An ideal way to use these types of containers is by placing plastic fitted containers inside. This eliminates problems associated with rust or excessive heat.

Wooden Containers – There are many styles of wooden containers, from formal planters to casual window boxes. Generally, cedar wood is most popular as it is longer lasting and pest resistant. Treated wood is not recommended due to the chemicals used in treating it, which may seep into the soil and become harmful to plants. Edible plants, especially, should not be placed in treated wooden planters unless you use plastic liners.

Plastic liners will also help prolong the life of untreated wooden containers, as over time these will begin to break down. You could also consider painting them or purchasing those that have already been painted.

Polyresin Containers – Polyresin containers are lightweight and inexpensive. These are great alternatives for use on balconies and rooftops. They are ideal outdoors, withstanding the elements of weather. However, they are likely to tip over in windy situations because of being so light. Nonetheless, polyresin pots are quite durable and look like the real thing, resembling stone or weathered concrete.

Fiberglass Pots – Fiberglass containers are also lightweight and often used as substitutes for more traditional pots. However, they are not as thick, providing less insulation for plants outdoors. They are probably better suited for indoor environments.

Plastic Containers – Plastic pots also do well indoors unless placed inside another, sturdier container. They are extremely light and topple over quite easily. Plastic pots can be found in a variety of colors and are the least expensive. They hold in moisture, however, so be sure to allow plants to dry out some between watering. They might also begin to crack over time if located in the sun, but this is not an issue for those labeled as UV protected.

Polystyrene Pots – Polystyrene pots are lightweight as well. These are also inexpensive and nonporous. Polystyrene pots are available in many sizes and finishes so finding one to match your decorating style should not be a problem. They are also thick enough to insulate plants effectively both in the heat of summer and cold of winter, but light enough to go just about anywhere you want. The only downside is their tendency to blow over easily in windy sites.

So those are the basics. Other than that, try to match the chosen pot to the plant as well as to the home. Containers for potted environments should always be large enough to accommodate the plants, and you want all elements of your potted environment to complement one another.

An expert guide to container gardening

From the best planters to use to design rules of thumb.

Gardening is a pastime that’s not only relaxing but fruitful. While the process of actually planting and tending to a garden is the perfect mindful activity, getting to see flowers bloom is rewarding, not to mention easy on the eye.

Of the many different ways you can enjoy the green-thumbed life, container gardening is one of the most accessible given it doesn’t require masses of outdoor space and can be done on a balcony, window sill or even indoors.

Container gardening is the process of planting directly into a plant pot rather than into the soil of a garden and offers the added benefit of showing off decorative planters.

If you’re new to container gardening or are looking for tips, read on for our handy guide with advice from Isabelle Palmer (@thebalconygardener), author of Modern Container Gardening.

How to Choose the Right Container

Related To:

Aw Pottery in Chamblee, Georgia, sells acres of large ceramic pots.

Aw Pottery in Chamblee, Georgia, sells acres of large ceramic pots.

Photo by: Image courtesy of Danny Flanders

Image courtesy of Danny Flanders

Planning to create some new container gardens this spring? If so, be prepared to shop around for pots. Containers can be expensive, and as container gardening has mushroomed in popularity over the years, so have the choices in pots.

When choosing a style and material, consider where the container is going. Wooden ones may look great on a deck or in a natural setting, while concrete may be more suited to formal gardens. Synthetic containers (resins, plastics, fiberglass, polymers) have come a long way in mimicking materials such as stone but can be pricey. That ever-popular “clay pot” is all over the board – from inexpensive Mexican to high-end Italian made.

In addition to materials, there’s size – which does matter when it comes to container gardens. In most cases, the bigger the pot, the better – not just for creating good scale but also for giving plants plenty of room to stretch their roots and grow.

But shopping for large, good-quality pots can be a challenge – just one reason Elaine Aw got into the container business 17 years ago in Chamblee, Georgia. “It’s really hard to find big pots,” says Aw, who owns Aw Pottery, just north of Atlanta.

There, it’s not unusual for first-time customers to drop their jaws when they drive up and feast their eyes on a couple of acres stacked with hundreds of pots in rustic earthenware and high-gloss glazes, both porcelain and granite. The pots, imported from China, Malaysia and Vietnam, are durable for garden wear-and-tear in any climate because they are high-heat fired and frost resistant.

Aw offered these tips when shopping for a pot and planting a container:

The good news is that with container gardening, your plants will get the fertilizer’s full benefits since it is in an enclosed pot compared to an open-air garden where the elements will disperse the fertilizer haphazardly.

It would be best if you used synthetic mixes or soil-free potting mix for your container gardening. The soil-free mixture drains quickly, is lighter, and doesn’t contain weeds or soil-borne diseases.

You could choose peat-based blends since peat and vermiculite in the mix are beneficial for the plants. You also have the option of organic fertilizer or even slow-release fertilizer.

Take these 5 points into consideration when setting up your container garden to grow vegetables. For your vegetables to thrive, these five fundamental factors must be in place.


It is important to use artificial or soilless media – available at most garden centers – when creating container gardens. Topsoil or ordinary garden soil compacts too easily in containers and can limit the amount of water and air reaching the roots of your plants, causing them to die. Artificial media is specially designed for use in containers, and will not compact the way soil does. Additionally, it tends to be lighter, making container movement easier. One of the benefits of container gardening is being able to provide the best growing media for the desired plants. Some plants such as blueberries prefer a lower pH. By growing in a container, gardeners can adjust the pH easier than they would be able to adjust a garden bed. Other plants may prefer more drainage, such as succulents in which case a succulent media should be utilized. Growing in containers allows the gardener to have control over the media, which can either be hand mixed or purchased, as many garden centers have different types of soil media for containers.

Media should not be reused from year to year. Over the course of the year, the media’s ability to hold moisture and nutrients declines and potentially harbors disease. At the end of the season, old media should be removed and the container should be cleaned and sterilized with a 10% bleach solution. The bleach solution can be easily made by adding 1 cup of bleach to 9 cups of water.

10 Tips for Picking Pots for Container Gardens

1. If you live in a dry, hot area…

If you live in an area that tends to be hot and dry – like most areas in Southern California – you will either need to water more often or choose planters that will help your plants not dry out too quickly. If you want to conserve water, you will want to choose non-porous pots, such as glazed planters, which hold moisture more efficiently.

2. If you over water…

If you are the type of gardener who tends to over water, you will need to choose porous containers to help protect your plants’ root systems from rotting and your plants from drowning. To help protect your plants from over-irrigation, consider using grow bags or unglazed, clay pots, such as the terra cotta planters that are available at garden centers and home improvement stores.

3. If you want cheap planting containers…

Plastic pots are often the least expensive but, if you do not like that option, unglazed, clay pots are usually also quite affordable. Another way to put together an inexpensive container garden is to get creative with your pot options. Almost any type of vessel can be a planter, so look around the house for old boots, chipped teacups, colanders and baskets that you can transform into flowerpots. You can also look for inexpensive pots at garage sales and thrift stores.

4. If you are growing plants for food…

Plants grown for food should not be planted in metal or plastic containers. Both of these options can leech unwanted substances into the soil and your plants. Choose untreated wood, unglazed, paper or other biodegradable pots, or you can use unlined baskets or grow bags. If you go with wood, choose untreated cedar or redwood, which have greater longevity than most other wood options.

5. If you need lightweight containers…

If you need lightweight options that allow you to easily move your plants, your best choices may be plastic, paper or biodegradable containers. Alternatively, you can place your pots on plant caddies with casters that allow you to easily roll them around as needed.

6. If you want an eclectic look…

To achieve an eclectic look, all you need to do is get creative with your planter choices. For example, you could incorporate a bathtub, wheelbarrow, an old cowboy boot or even an old ice bucket. If you want a bit of an eclectic look without getting too crazy, you can also simply choose pots in several vibrant colors or paint your pots with unique designs.

7. If you want vibrant colors…

The best choice for gardeners who want vibrant colors in their container garden is to go with glazed pots. Glazed pots, such as the popular Talavera pottery you can sometimes find at garden centers or home stores, offer the widest variety of bright, vibrant colors from which to choose. Alternatively, you can paint metal or wooden containers to create a colorful patio garden.

8. If you want eco-friendly pots…

There are plenty of eco-friendly container garden choices that are easy to find, such as untreated wood planters, pots made from recycled paper, bamboo pots, and pots made from corn husks, peat, coconut coir, cow manure or rice straw. Another option is to use upcycled planters, such as those made from old wine barrels or whiskey barrels.

9. If you forget to water your plants…

If you get a bit forgetful when it comes to watering your plants, there are easy solutions that help your plants thrive. The best solution for forgetful gardeners is often self-watering containers. As long as you remember to water your container garden enough to keep the reservoir full, your self-watering planters will handle the rest. This allows your plants to get just the water they need as they need it, so it is also a great way to conserve water.

10. If you are concerned about discoloring your patio…

If you are concerned about water from your plants damaging your wood deck or discoloring a concrete, brick or paving stone patio, that is easy to avoid. Either choose pots that have a built-in saucer at the bottom, or purchase saucers to place beneath your pots. Just keep in mind that saucers encourage your pot to retain moisture. If there is too much moisture, it can damage the root system or drown your plants.

Watch the video: BEST PLANT POTS OF 2019. how to choose a planter + GIVEAWAY

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