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Choosing the Right Planter

Planters can greatly increase your gardening space and add to the style of your home— both indoors and outdoors. With so many different materials and styles of planters, how do you choose the right one? Here are a few things to consider:  

What do you want to grow?

When shopping for a planter, the first thing you need to do is research what type of plants you want to grow and what their needs are. Certain plants need more sun than others while some require a bit more shade.

The type of plant you want to grow will determine the size of your planter. Some plants grow quickly and might need a lot of room for their roots. There are plenty of different sizes to choose from, ranging from oversized planters to hanging baskets. When in doubt, it’s often better to buy a bigger planter so your plant can grow into it.

Will your plant be exposed to a lot of sunlight?

The amount of soil and water available for plants to use in containers is limited. If you are planning on putting a planter in an area where it will receive a lot of sun, keep in mind that plants grown in planters tend to dry out faster than plants planted in the ground. If your plant will receive a lot of sunlight, you will want a planter made of a non-porous material.   

Will you leave your planter outside during the winter?

If you want to leave your planter outside year-round because it adds so much to your outdoor décor, you will need a planter that can brave all weather. For those of you who have the misfortune of living in colder climates, you may need a planter that is frost resistant like stone, cement or wood. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a Climate Zone 7 or higher, you have more options.

Are you super strong?

If you are, then great! You’ll have no trouble moving large planters around your yard or patio. If you’re like the rest of us, you won’t be moving very heavy planters often, if ever. If you’re a person who likes to switch things up often around your yard and patio, you’ll probably want a smaller, more lightweight planter. Large planters give plants plenty of room to grow and generally look great, but they’re not for everyone.

What material do you want?

Each material provides a unique style and flavor and each has its own benefits and drawbacks:

Clay Pots and Terra Cotta Planters

10 Inch Hand Painted Goldfinch PlanterClay is one of the more popular materials for planters. For centuries, people have come to revere the wonderful properties of clay pots and terra cotta planters. Not only do clay planters, especially terracotta planters, have an undeniably attractive finish and color, but they are also very porous, allowing for excellent air flow to your roots. As enticing as clay sounds, it’s not indestructible. Beautiful things are usually delicate and clay is no exception. It can easy crack or shatter if knocked over. In harsh, cold conditions clay and terracotta planters can crack if left outside, and in sunny locations, they can dry out rapidly.

Concrete Planters and Stone Planters

18 Inch Ovate PlanterIn terms of resistance to outdoor conditions, stone and concrete planters cannot be beaten. A concrete planter can easily brave the harshest weather conditions. In cooler climates, it will provide some insulation for your plants. They offer a very classy and professional look, available in many shades and finishes. As great as they look and as durable as they are, concrete and stone planters are heavy and can be expensive. In direct sunlight, they can heat up and potentially cook your plant’s roots. However, in the right situations, they are a great choice.

Lightweight Planters

Stack and Grow PlanterSuitable for use indoors and outdoors all year round, lightweight planters are light, durable, inexpensive, non-corrosive and often frost-resistant. Often made of fiberglass, they easily mimic the look of natural materials like clay, stone and terracotta planters and most people can’t even tell the difference. A fiberglass planter retains moisture much better than any other material so you won’t have to water your plants so frequently. However, since they are non-porous, it is important to make sure fiberglass planters are draining adequately. Additionally, fiberglass planters do not age as gracefully as wood or stone planters. Overtime, while fiberglass planters may still function well, they can become something of an eyesore.

Metal Planters

Mid Size Round Stainless Steel PlanterA metal planter is a popular choice for gardeners who prefer modern planters and contemporary planters that have a classy look. Metal planters are sturdy and a great choice for braving cold climates and surviving the winter. Different types of metals have different weights, giving you some flexibility to choose what’s best for your situation. Most metal planters are coated with a primer to help prevent rusting, but that will only delay the inevitable. Overtime, harsh weather can cause metal planters to rust or its paint to crack. While they provide great insulation during the winter, they can often bake roots if left in direct sunlight. As long as you minimize the effects of weather, metal planters are an excellent option.

Synthetic Planters

Synthetic planters and plastic planters are some the most cost-effect planters you can buy. While a plastic planter may not have the same classic appeal as a wooden planter or concrete planter, it is lightweight and durable and available in many different designs. Plastic planters hold moisture well which is great for hot and dry climates, but they can become brittle and break easily in colder temperatures.

Vinyl Planters

Large Vinyl Planter BoxVinyl planters provide a similar look to wood and they are both lightweight and durable. They come in many colors, sizes and shapes and are generally a less expensive option. However, similar to plastic and other synthetic planters, vinyl planters can suffer in colder temperatures.


Wooden Planters

Standard Cedar Planter BoxA wooden planter is often a popular choice due to its attractive, natural style and warm appearance. Wooden planters retain water and do quite well in cold weather, providing insulation for your roots. Most wood planters are made with thicker, rot-resistant wood like redwood or cedar and treated to prevent weather damage. Wood planters can be inexpensive and age gracefully, but they can also be quite heavy.


Choosing the right planter can be tricky. There are a lot of things to consider and a lot depends on your personal taste and sense of style, the type of plants you want and your climate. Above all else, keep in mind that whatever planter you choose, it should be conducive to your plant’s health and well-being.


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