As many of us already know, gardening requires us to make a series of sometimes complicated choices. What to plant, where to plant, what soil to use, how often to water—the list goes on and on. But most of us also understand that a little research and common sense can go a long way in helping us cultivate beautiful, healthy gardens.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of common planting container materials to help you decide which type is right for your garden’s needs. From convenience and attractiveness to affordability and durability, we’ve got the scoop.
Ceramic garden containers
Ceramic pots are practical for a number of reasons. They are durable, heavy enough to hold larger plants, and come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, and styles. Ceramic pots do tend to be more expensive than containers made of other materials. With a ceramic pot, you’ll want to be cautious in cold weather. Water expands when it freezes, which can leave you with a cracked container.
Plastic pots and plastic self watering planters
Most plants you purchase prepotted will come in plastic containers because they are cheap and lightweight. Another benefit is that it’s easy to drill extra holes in a plastic pot if you find the drainage insufficient. Black plastic will heat roots pretty quickly if left in the sun—a blessing or a curse, depending on the plant and season. Plastic containers come in a variety of different shapes, sizes and colors. Even better, you can find self watering planter designs that make it very easy to keep your plants watered. Here’s a good one available on Amazon (affiliate link).
Fabric Grow Bags
Fabric pots are relatively unique in the way they allow roots to grow out of the container rather than tangle into a root ball.This freedom can make for a healthier, more productive plant because the roots won’t crowd and strangle one another. The material also allows you to easily water your plants from the bottom up if you want. This method is potentially more efficient and gentle than top watering. We like the Dynapot fabric pots that are available on Amazon (affiliate link) in many sizes.
Terracotta pots are a favorite for many gardeners. Undoubtedly this has to do with their earthy aesthetic, but perhaps it is also because they are a compromise in a few ways. They are lighter than ceramic or concrete, prettier than plastic, and their price tag is economical compared to other materials. Terracotta is quite porous, making it an apt choice for plants that need plenty of drainage. These containers do need to be brought inside during freezing weather to avoid cracking, and they are prone to chipping and breakage.
Concrete Planters and Pots
Concrete is well suited for very heavy plants and can withstand almost anything, including extreme temperatures. If you choose to invest in a concrete pot (they tend to be expensive), be sure you know exactly where you want it in your garden. Moving these heavy planters may prove difficult.
Wood Garden Containers
Wood containers are fitting if you’re going for a rustic feel in your garden or home. They will most likely only last a few growing seasons before they need to be replaced, however. To slow the deterioration of these pots, choose more durable wood varieties, and consider treating or painting planters with something nontoxic.
Remember that while the choices may seem overwhelming at first, learning to garden is a process. Do what works for you, and adapt your supplies and technique as you go. We hope this list helps with at least one aspect of your planting journey. Good luck, and happy growing!
Learn more about types of containers here:
Bonnie Plants, Gardener’s Path, Gardening Know How, Planet Natural Research Center
Ruth Gulley is a writer and contributing editor for Russell Gibson Content. A native Texan, she now resides in Virginia where she enjoys homeschooling her stepson, cuddling with her clumsy cat named Bird, and watching seasons one through four of The Office on repeat.
I have had success with plastic grow bags, inexpensive, easy to maintain on a deck, enough room for the roots of a single tomato or pepper plant. I bought a roll of 6 ft tall wire fencing material, cut off pieces long enough to go around the bags and used them to fashion trellises which could be placed around the bags.
So, roll the tops of the bags down, put down a layer of potting soil in the bottom of the bag approximately 6-8 inches deep, put plant in the center. Add soil as the plant grows, unrolling the bag as you go. When the plant is well established and the soil has filled approximately 3/4th of the bag, place the round wire trellis around each bag with a support stake if needed. I used twine attached to the stake, wrapped around the plant stem to keep in place on the stake, then attach to the wire cage. The plants happily grow up and spill out over the top, producing until the first frost. Clean out the dead plants, can reuse a second year. My experience anyway.