How to choose the right plant pot

April 24, 2021

We’re going to chat about plant pots in this newsletter — because ’tis the season to fill them, indoors and out! But first a few shares from my week:

  • I received that candle snuffer I mentioned in our recent blog post on candles, and it’s perfect! Grandson Calvin especially enjoyed “snuffing” a candle for me. 
  • It took two years, but I finally found the perfect little dresser for our guest room. It had to be small (to tuck in a tight spot), and it had to have some character (of course). A sweet dresser popped up on FB Marketplace, posted by a woman who used to buy and sell furniture. She held on to this one for some time and was finally ready to let it go. Lucky me! (Big bonus: All of the drawers still slide beautifully!)
  • I’m intrigued by something I came across in Ingrid Fetell Lee’s book, Joyful. Do we crave newness, and how do we fulfill that craving? Lee writes: “The danger of hedonic adaptation [an academic term for craving newness] is that it sparks a kind of desperate materialism. Hungry for novelty, we often throw out functioning objects that have lost their luster and replace them with shiny new versions.” It made me wonder how we can inspire ourselves and others to fill our need for newness in other, more satisfying and sustainable ways. The author suggests using surprise in our lives to fulfill this need. I’m wondering if enriching our lives with new things to read, art to look at, and paths to walk might help, too. At home, I honestly find the act of mending a worn object fulfills this hunger more successfully than purchasing a new object. What do you think? Do you feel the need to buy new things because you’re craving newness? Are there other ways you might address that need?

Purchasing plants for outdoor pots has certainly been a happy activity around here lately. I thought a rundown of kinds of plant pots might be interesting and helpful right about now! The best size and shape for a planter largely depends on the type of plant you’re putting in it (some like lots of room for roots, while others prefer a more shallow and/or snug fit). That being said, most plants will do fine in a standard flowerpot shape. Materials, on the other hand, have some definite advantages and disadvantages. Here are some common options (in order from my most to least fave).

Pros and cons of common planter materials

Terra Cotta

Pros: If you read this week’s post, you know that I consider terra cotta to be the best planter material for flowers and other plants. This is primarily because it’s so terrific at providing drainage, but terra cotta is also durable, inexpensive, versatile, and — in my opinion — beautiful.
Cons: Terra cotta pots are relatively heavy and breakable (but really, the pros vastly outweigh the cons in my book!).

a succulent in a ceramic planter painted pink on the bottom and white with a black line smile and dot eyes on top, sitting on a windowsill

Ceramic

Pros: Durable, comes in many beautiful colors and styles
Cons: Relatively heavy, breakable, expensive, not the best drainage/airflow (they’re usually glazed, which seals in the moisture)

Wood

Pros: Natural, good drainage, versatile (you can even make a DIY wood planter)
Cons: Heavy and may rot over time. You can slow down the rotting process, though. Consider selecting resistant varieties of wood (such as cedar), painting the wood, and/or lining the planter so the wet soil doesn’t sit directly against the wood. Avoid using chemically treated wood, though.

Plastic & resin

Pros: Lightweight, available in a variety of colors and styles, inexpensive, and usually resistant to breaking
Cons: Some won’t support large/heavy plants, minimal airflow/drainage, less environmentally friendly, can leach chemicals into soil/plants (though I haven’t found any evidence this causes any significant issues for the plants). Aside: Many newer resin pots look like ceramic pots, and some people find this an advantage. I hold it against the pots for being fake. 🙂

Metal

Pros: Extremely durable, stylish
Cons: Poor drainage, heavy, can get very hot and dry out the soil (so they’re not ideal for over- or under- waterers!)

aloe plant in a cement plant pot against a white background

Concrete

Pros: Durable, good drainage (except those without drainage holes)
Cons: Heavy, can negatively impact the PH levels of soil

Keep in mind that many of the listed cons could actually be pros and vice versa, depending on the type of plant! For example, poor drainage may be a dealbreaker for a succulent, but it could be a perk for a plant that likes consistently moist soil — or one that’s sitting outdoors in the sunshine! Another tip for plant pots: Always choose one with a drainage hole! Overwatering is one of the easiest ways to kill a plant, and not having a drainage hole makes overwatering almost inevitable. This holds true — for me, at least — even for especially thirsty plants.

Pretty planter options

Here are some lovely planters from Etsy you may like:

Note: I’m an affiliate for both Etsy and Bookshop (two places I feel great about), which means that if you make a purchase through any of my links, you’ll be supporting them and Care to Keep, without any added cost to you. Of course, I hope you’ll find our articles jam packed with good info whether or not you click any fun links! Thanks so much!

What are your favorite types of plant pots? Do you, like me, have a strong opinion about the best planter material? Do you have any advice for overcoming some of the “cons” on the above list? Please share the challenges you’ve run into, solutions you’ve found, and anything else you think other readers and I could help with and/or benefit from!

Take good care,

Headshot photo of Karen Mary with her signature in blue ink to the right

P.S. Stop by the blog every Tuesday for the latest posts — next week we’ll be caring for teas and teapots! In the meantime, here are some posts you might want to visit this week:

Terra cotta care (new post!)

Buying used furniture — How to decide if you should purchase a piece of used furniture

Reel lawn mower — AKA cylinder mower or manual push mower

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