How to choose a plant pot
Time to introduce your favourite new plant to the pot of its dreams.
Playing cupid between your lovely new plant and its perfect pot? Which type of container is best? What size, shape and material should you go for?
From traditional terracotta to square-sided containers or generous, pot-bellied gems, we shed some light on the pros and cons of certain types of pots your precious plants would be happy to meet. There are three things you should consider:
- Size: it matters! Selecting the right sized home for your plant can help it flourish.
- Shape: A pot is a pot no matter its shape, but depending on your desired aesthetic, going for a more unusual shape can be a game changer.
- Material: Some materials are better for drainage and some require special care.
Large or small pot?
First things first: when it comes to pots, size matters. As a rule, if you’re repotting a plant, it’s best to choose a pot that’s a little bigger than the original, so there’s room for it to grow. Some plants like to have their roots restricted though (meaning that they don't like loads of space), so it’s a good idea to check beforehand.
Larger pots are often pricier and heavier than smaller ones (especially when filled with compost), and it can take longer for the soil in them to dry out, which may lead to root rot (eek).
Large pots are perfect for:
- Plants with big root balls (think trees or large shrubs)
- Creating show-stopping centrepieces or front door makeovers
- Patios, terraces and conservatories.
Small pots are ideal for:
- Creating multi-pot displays
- Houseplants or individual outdoor plants
- Bookshelves, balconies and windowsills.
What shape pot should I choose?
Most plant pots are cylindrical (round), giving room for roots to expand out and down. But there’s no reason you can’t mix things up and go for something more distinctive.
What material should I choose?
The material that your pot is made from will affect the way you care for the plants inside. Some pots drain better than others or can withstand a range of temperatures. Others are more fragile or need regular care.
A classic option for a timeless, vintage look.
Colour: Pale pink through to deep orange
Downsides: Prone to cracking and frost damage; can be heavy; moisture-loving plants might need more frequent watering.
Robust and hard-wearing glazed pots, sometimes without drainage holes
Great for: Keeping soil moist for longer; acting as a decorative drainage pot for plants in plastic pots; creating your own individual look. Houseplants, bog plants, woodland plants, Hosta, Hydrangea, Astrantia will love these pots.
Downsides: Easily broken; can lead to water-logging.
Barrels and driftwood tubs have an attractive, rustic feel
Colour: Dark brown to weathered grey
Great for: Plants with large root balls, or naturalistic gardens. Fruit trees, ornamental grasses, Kniphofia, Eryngium and dry garden plants will love them.
Downsides: Will eventually rot if not treated or lined with protective sheeting.
Chemical-free, breathable fabric planters make it easy to grow in tiny spaces
Great for: Hanging in small gardens and balconies; growing with children. Herbs, salad leaves, vegetables, annual flowers will love them.
Downsides: May loose shape over time; plants may need more regular watering.