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Selecting the Perfect Pots for Your Container Garden

by Fern on January 29, 2009

in Uncategorized

If you’re still busy planning your balcony garden for next year, here are a few things to think about when it comes to the containers themselves.

Different Kinds of Pot Materials:


Photo by *Susie*

  • Terracotta is good for people who tend to over water, as the porous clay wicks the excess water out of the soil quickly. It’s also a good choice for gardeners with extremely hot summers as it can help shield roots from the heat. The downsides of terracotta are that it dries out quickly and can crack in the winter.
  • Plastic is the obvious choice for gardeners on a serious budget. They’re also good if you live on the top floor of a building with no elevator, or have weight restriction on your balcony.
  • Fiberglass and resin are great if you like the molded or carved look of ancient pottery but don’t want to lug a heavy pot out onto your balcony. They can also be more reasonably priced than their stone or clay counterparts.
  • Wood can lend a specific “feel” to a garden, be it asian, natural, or rustic, depending on the design. Hardwoods are sturdy and will last, but don’t let them sit directly on the ground or in sitting water, as that will just speed up the rotting process.
  • Metal can look really modern, and it won’t crack in the winter. But beware in the summer. Metal pots can get very hot, and if you don’t water your plants, they will cook the roots!

Color Considerations:


Photo by jurek d.

  • Do you want all your pots to match? A bunch of terracotta pots in different shapes and sizes would look classy without being too stuffy or boring. There are some really neat terracotta pots with quilted patterns or scalloped edges. You could do the same thing with other colors. All white could look very modern.
  • If you’re going to mix up your colors, either do it carefully or go totally crazy, don’t go halfway. For example, I noticed in Mexico that tiles and containers are a whole mix of bright colors. If you’re going for a Latin look, choose blue, yellow, orange and red glazed pots. But if you want a more sedate look, go with one or two colors.

Matching Plants to Pots (Or Pots to Plants):


Photo by brewbooks

  • A tall narrow pot will probably look best with a plant that is also tall and bushy. A small, rounded plant will likely look silly in such a pot, like a scoop of ice cream on a cone. Other small plants are likely to look out of proportion to the pot. It’s also not good for a plant’s health to grow it in a pot that is too big for it.
  • A squat pot (say that ten times fast!) will probably look good with a similarly sized plant. It might also look good with a plant that has a vertical habit, as the pot will help the plant look grounded, but be careful, a plant that is radically out of proportion to its pot often doesn’t looks good.
  • The easiest and safest bet is to chose a pot that has a similar visual “weight” as the plant. Medium sized plants with medium sized pots, plants with a wide horizontal spread in wider pots, and so on.
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