Tips on Choosing Plant Containers

Whether you're planting flowers, shrubs, small trees, or vegetables, containers are the ultimate for versatile gardening. Due to the multitude of container choices on the market, homeowners will have no problem finding plant containers to suit every style. The most obvious place to look for containers are the big box home improvement centers. You’re certain to find a fair assortment of planters in all shapes, sizes, and colors. However, be sure to peruse your local independent garden centers and nurseries if you’re searching for something truly unique.

Here are few things to keep in mind before purchasing:

  • Consider the largest containers. The biggest planters will give plant roots maximum space and will retain moisture longer. This means less watering.
  • Outdoor plant containers should always have drainage holes at the bottom. Those without drainage holes (or a place to drill a hole) is for decorative use only. They're primarily used for indoor houseplants as an outer "sleeve". The idea is to take them out of that sleeve, water them in a sink, and then slip them back into the decorative container. Not great for outdoor plantings.
  • Consider where the potted plants will be situated. For example, if they are in an area that has strong winds, containers with wide bases will stay put. While the tall, statuesque types may need to be situated in a more protective spot.
  • If you enjoy switching things up with some rearranging, consider choosing the lighter weight pots such as those made of fiberglass or plastic.

Plant Container Types

Terra Cotta is the most well-known and common type of planter. They're found in many shapes and sizes and are less expensive than most other containers. The drawback to terra cotta pottery is that they dry out quickly and break the easiest if dropped. If you live in an area with freezing winter temperatures, look for the ones that are labeled ‘frost proof’ so they don’t end up cracking during the cold months.

Wood containers look natural and warm. They range from small tubs to half-barrels and troughs. A coat of varnish will prolong their life as a planter or paint them to add color.

Plastic is non-porous, so soil stays moist longer than it does in Terra Cotta pottery. They are also easy to move around even after being filled with soil and plants. Today, plastic planters come in many attractive styles, some of them even replicate stone or concrete beautifully.

Fiberglass containers are non-porous and hold moisture well. These lightweights are also easy to move around. The big plus is that aesthetically the fiberglass material readily mimics some of the pricier containers. However, they do crack and break easier than the expensive ones.

Glazed Stoneware is basically glazed terra cotta, but the glaze makes them non-porous. They come in lovely shades and designs which can reflect the style of your yard and garden.

Metal containers including those made of copper and galvanized steel bring a contemporary look and feel. They are stunning in the right setting. Fair warning: Plant roots can warm up fast or freeze quickly in metal planters.

Concrete or Stone containers are one of the most expensive to purchase. They are also some of the most beautiful. You’ll want to find a permanent spot for them as once they are filled with soil and planted, they are difficult to move.

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