Selecting the Best Container for Your Plants
Choosing the right container isn’t only about appearance – it’s about keeping your plants safe and healthy. When it comes to selecting a container, there are several factors to keep in mind.
No matter what type of container you select, it must have at least one drainage hole in the bottom. Nearly all plants will rot in poorly drained soil, and some will die very quickly.
Terracotta containers are old-fashioned favorites that provide many benefits – and a few drawbacks. Terracotta is heavy and stable, and it has a natural appearance that many people appreciate. Because terracotta is porous, it allows the roots to breathe, which helps prevent disease and keeps roots cool during hot weather. Porosity means the roots will dry out faster, so you’ll need to check the container regularly. Terracotta is breakable and it may crack in freezing weather.
Plastic containers come in a come in a range of colors and styles, and they are usually inexpensive, although many manufacturers make sturdy, faux-ceramic plastic pots that cost a bit more. Affordability means you can experiment and change your garden décor if the mood strikes you. The downside is that plastic containers don’t hold up as well as terracotta or ceramic, and plastic doesn’t do a good job of protecting roots from heat and cold. Plastic doesn’t freeze as easily as terracotta or ceramic, but the material may fade or crack.
Wood containers provide a natural, rustic appearance. Large wooden containers tend to be heavy, so you might want to place them on a rolling platform if you want to move them from place to place. Wood containers tend to deteriorate in time. A wood preservative may prolong the life, but be extremely careful about using chemical preservatives if you want to plant herbs or vegetables.
Glazed Ceramic containers are some of the prettiest on the market. They tend to be expensive, but with proper care, they last a very long time. They crack easily, so be sure not to let water accumulate in the pots if you’re expecting freezing weather. The biggest drawback to glazed ceramic pots is that they often lack a drainage hole and drilling a hole in ceramic can be tricky. There is one effective way to get around this: just plant in a slightly smaller container and set the container inside your prized glazed ceramic container. Put a layer of Styrofoam peanuts or pebbles the bottom of the ceramic container to be sure the smaller container can drain freely. Be sure the bottom of the smaller container never sits in water because moisture will wick up through the drainage hole and rot your plants.
Fabric containers, sometimes known as “grow bags,” are relatively new to most gardeners, and they provide a number of benefits. Although early fabric containers were usually black, you can now purchase containers in a variety of colors. Sizes range from one-plant containers to those large enough for a dwarf tree. The durable, long-lasting containers are extremely healthy for plants. Fabric provides excellent aeration for healthy roots, and plants are less likely to rot if you accidentally overwater. Because the fabric breathes, roots remain cooler during hot weather. Price of fabric containers is reasonable, and the long-lasting containers are washable and reusable. A plant with a healthy root system is a happy plant.