Buyer's Guide to Outdoor Garden Planters and Pots
Plants are an excellent way of brightening up your home and garden with their vibrant colours and interesting textures. Choosing a stylish, high quality planter or pot not only makes a great interior or exterior accessory, it can also enhance the health of your plants, supporting their growth and protecting them from harsh weather conditions.
This in-depth guide talks you through some of the various materials that planters and plant pots are available in, how to figure out which size pot you need and some maintenance tips to keep them in great condition.
What is the difference between a plant pot and a planter?
Despite often being used interchangeably, there are actually some differences which separate a plant pot from a planter and being aware of these differences can help you to know exactly what it is that you’re looking for. Whilst many plant pots are often round, such as our Set of 3 Rounded Concrete Plant Pots, planters tend to be rectangular shapes. As such, plant pots tend to hold just one plant, whilst planters are often used to contain several, as seen with our Tall Rectangular Concrete Planter which features three separate sections. Planters are also predominantly for outdoor use and are designed to withstand outdoor conditions, whilst plant pots can also be for indoor and decorative purposes.
What’s the best material for outdoor garden planters and pots?
There are a huge range of materials commonly used for planters and plant pots, each with their advantages and disadvantages. Some of the most popular choices are as follows…
Plastic: Plastic planters and plant pots are an inexpensive, widely available option. Whilst lighter coloured plastic planters and plant pots will heat and cool quickly, darker coloured alternatives may retain heat if left in full sun, causing damage to plants. However, plastic is not the most robust material for planters and pots and as such, they can be prone to tipping over in adverse weather.
Terracotta: Terracotta is another classic material for planters and plant pots which has been widely adopted over the years. However, terracotta is porous and will absorb moisture from compost, which often leads plants to require extra watering. Terracotta can also be prone to cracking and crumbling in cold weather.
Ceramic: Ceramic pots are a decorative option which is particularly effective for indoor use, especially considering their tendency to chip or break during a frost. Unlike terracotta, ceramic pots are considerably less porous, which can lead to potential waterlogging, meaning it is important to make sure that any ceramic pots have drainage holes drilled into the base.
Concrete: High quality concrete planters and plant pots offer superb durability which allows them to last for decades. They are often regarded as a luxury choice which will continue to look better with age. Concrete is also a strong insulator and can protect plant’s roots even against the harshest of temperatures. Take a look at our collection of concrete planters and pots here.
Fibre-clay: An environmentally friendly choice, fibre-clay pots are made from waste pulp fibre combined with clay. They are lighter than stone, but provide greater resistance than the classic terracotta pot.
Fibre-glass: Created from a blend of resin and glass fibres, these pots are not the most ecologically friendly option, but offer a durable yet lightweight planting solution.
Fibre-stone: Fibre-stone offers the same durability benefits as fibre-glass, but the addition of stone powder gives a more substantial feel. However, this still lacks the robustness of concrete. Nevertheless, fibre-stone planters are both frost and UV resistant.
Wooden: With rustic character and charm, wooden pots and planters offer effective heat insulation to protect delicate roots during the warmer months. However, wooden planters and pots are not the most durable choice, as they are prone to rotting. If you do choose a wooden planter or pot then be sure to coat them with a preservative beforehand to keep them in good condition.
Metal: A modern and often decorative choice, metal pots will age over time, however, depending on the type of metal used, they may experience rust. Metal plant pots can also heat up extremely quickly, which can cause your plant’s soil to dry out, potentially causing root damage. To combat this, you can use a plastic or clay pot inside your metal pot as an insulating ‘liner’.
Which size planter or pot should I buy for my garden?
Choosing the right size plant pot to house your plants or flowers is very important, as whilst your plants and flowers continue to grow, you want to be sure that the pot continues to comfortably accommodate them.
Buying a pot which is too large for your plant will cause soil to dry slowly, consequently making the plant increasingly susceptible to root rot. A plant in too large of a pot is also prone to tipping over in bad weather. On the other hand, placing a plant in a planter or pot which is too small to accommodate it can result in the pot becoming root-bound and cause stunted growth. Pots and planters which are too small also cause soil to dry very quickly, meaning you will have to water your plants more regularly.
A useful tip is to choose a pot with a diameter measuring 1.5 times larger than the diameter of your plant's roots, as this will ensure that there is plenty of room for growth. If your plant has outgrown its current pot, look for a pot which is between 2 to 4 inches larger in diameter, or between 1 to 2 inches for slower growing plants. Equally, our collection makes choosing the right size even easier, with many items, such as the Set of 2 Concrete Planters on a Wooden Stand available in shallow , medium and deep options, or the Rectangular Concrete Planter with Two Sections, which is available in small, medium and large.
How do I maintain my outdoor garden planter and pots?
Adding supportive feet beneath your planter or plant pot is a great tip for maintaining both the pot and the plant inside. Feet can raise your plant pot off of the ground, which aids ease of drainage and prevents waterlogging, as well as avoiding staining to your patio. Plus, they can also act as a decorative finishing touch.
If you are choosing a plant pot in a material which is more prone to cracking (such as terracotta or ceramic) it is advisable to wrap your planters and plant pots with bubble wrap or plastic when a frost is expected, to provide temporary cover.
It is also important for your planters and pots to have holes in the base to allow for ease of drainage and support growth. If your plant pot does not have any holes, this can cause roots to drown and the plant to sustain damage, or even die. To avoid this, you can drill holes into the base of your planter or plant pot by simply marking where you want to drill your holes (make sure there are at least four) and drill using a ¼ inch drill bit which is suitable for the plant pot’s material, whilst making sure that you are wearing protective goggles.