What is the best container for my plant?

A frequent question that we receive is what is the best container, planter, or pot for my plant. And the truth is, a lot goes into selecting the correct container for you plant. All three terms (container, planter, pot) can be used interchangeably. The specifics to consider include aesthetics, functionality, size, and purpose. Plant containers are available in a wide array of sizes, colors, textures, and makeups. Considered each when selecting the right pot for your plant.

Size Matters

Plant containers are marketed as a certain size pot. A 10-inch pot is a container with a 10-inch diameter opening at the top like this terracotta planter. Manufacturers will also include the volume of the pot on the labeling. When selecting a container take care to ensure that the diameter of the pot is larger than the current size of the plant root ball. Allow for one to two inches of extra space for smaller plants and up to five inches of space in larger plants. This will allow for optimal plant growth and development.

Consider depth when selecting a container too. Select a container that is deep enough to house the root ball of your plant, but that will allow for additional root growth. Some planters like the paulownia wood planter are shallow while other planters like this white washed urn can be deep.

You may need to repot perennial plants every few years so that they do not become root bound or too tall for their container. Repotting plants will ensure that they continue growing optimally. It will also help taller plants not topple over in the wind. For any questions about dividing perennials check out this guide to dividing perennials.

Drainage Matters Too

Plant containers should always have drain holes at the bottom to allow for excess water to drain from the planting media. If drain holes are not present, then water will accumulate in the pot and may lead to plant decline. If your container does not have drain holes, then you may want to consider adding them. Remember that porous containers-like terra cotta- allow planting media to dry faster and more evenly than their plastic counter parts and will require more frequent watering.

Drain pans are a good idea for indoor plants or outdoor plants where water draining from the bottom of the pot is a nuisance. These pans sit under the plant container and catch any water that seeps out. Drain pans are available in a variety of colors so that you can select one that matches the color of your container.

Types of Containers

Planters and pots are made of  myriad components. Planters often serve as permanent fixtures in the landscape or interiorscape while pots are likely to be temporarily used for seed starting or plant holding. Consider the purpose of your container before making an investment. The price of containers is often as variable as their makeup. If you are going to hold a transplant for a week, then economical options are available. If you need something more long term, then you may need to dig a little deeper into your pockets. Depending on your budget, faux containers that resemble the pricier terra cotta or stone containers are available. And with all of the options out there you should be able to find what is the best container (planter/pot) for your plant.