You’ve been checking your email for a back in stock notification for months and you’ve finally got the plant you've been fantasizing about in your hands.
It's...a little underwhelming in that green plastic planter. But how do you pick the perfect vessel for your new frond?
Choosing the right houseplant pot is more than a question of style. Everything from pot sizing to pot material and even planter shape can impact how successful your future is together.
Here’s what we think you should know based on our 7 years of helping customers overcome every plant care challenge known to man.
The Detrimental Impact of Plastic Pots
This may be something of a hot take, but we do not recommend keeping your plants in their plastic nursery pots.
<Insert the gasp of 1000 internet plant experts here.>
We understand WHY plastic pots are a standard. They are light weight, have ample drainage, cost hardly anything to create and they are, by far, the best thing for growers to use to ship their plants to sellers and customers.
However, as houseplants popularity has increased, the amount of plastic nursery pots that end up in landfills has increased as well. Like all single use plastic, the amount that actually ends up recycled is far less than what gets made.
Plastic is also vulnerable to environmental changes. While greenhouses and nurseries provide consistent conditions for plants, your home is filled with differing light exposures, air conditioning, heaters, and south facing windows. Not only will plastic pots start to loose their flexibility with prolonged exposure to heat or sunlight, they also don’t provide insolation for your plants roots – leaving your plant more vulnerable to temperature shock.
Along with becoming brittle over a short period, doing a poor job of protecting your plant from environmental stressors and clogging up landfills plastic planters also seep chemicals into your soil that can inhibit your plants growth and negatively impact the health of the microbiome in your soil.
If you’ve swapped to a reusable water bottles and glass food storage, it’s time to give your plants the same consideration.
Which Pot Type Is Best For My Plant?
Picking the right pot type for your plant is dependent on both your plant’s watering needs and your own preferred care style. The material you choose can make it easier to maintain root health, impact how often you need to water, and protect your plant from stress caused by sudden environmental changes.
While there are people who can successfully keep plants happy in synthetic vessels we’ve found planter pots made out of natural materials are the easiest for most people.
Traditional terracotta pots are made from a course, porus type of clay that is baked without a glaze. This material draws excess moisture from the soil and provides steady access to oxygen for the roots.
This makes terracotta ideal for succulents or cacti, but not so great a fit for Ferns or Begonias that like their soil to stay evenly moist.
Terracotta can also be a nice option for caretakers who have a tendency to “over-love” their plant. If you really enjoy plant tasks and have ended up with root rot as a reward, a terracotta pot may be a good option for you.
For most other plants we recommend a semi-glazed ceramic pot with a drainage hole. Ceramic pots respond to temperature changes slowly, protecting your plants roots. They are also durable with proper care, and can even be passed down to future generations (or at least future plants).
Traditional eathenware pots have a reputation for being heavy and hard to move, but all of the ceramic pots we offer in the store are slipcast.
That means clay is mixed with water then poured into a cast, after it has dried and been fired the result is a pot that has all the benefits of ceramics without the weight.The best alternative to plastic pots
Another great option we have in the store is a wood fiber pot. These pots are at a lower price point than ceramic points and are light weight, having the texture of fine stationary. They also over the longevity and benefits of a natural material while feeling a bit like plastic.
How do I know which pot size is best for my houseplant?
Another important thing to consider when picking out a pot is finding the right size. Your plants ideal pot size is based on the volume of the root mass rather than the size of the foliage. While it might be tempting to get more pot than your plant in an attempt to put of re-potting for a while, having an excess of soil negatively impacts the soils dry out and can result in chronic soil gnats and root decay.
Planters are sized by diameter, which is the length of the line through the center of the pot. In most cases, it is best to choose a pot that is 1” to 2” inches larger than your plant’s current pot.
One exception to this can be if your plant has suffered from root-decay. In this case, the unviable root mass must be removed first and a smaller pot will likely be required to accommodate the remaining roots.
If your plant is still in it’s nursery pot and shows no signs of root distress, you can use the size of the nursery pot to help you pick your plant’s permanent home. Look for planters that are an inch or two larger than your plant’s current pot.
How to choose the right plant pot style?
One of the most important plant pot style details is ensuring your plant has a drainage hole and a saucer that can be easily removed.
The shape you choose can also impact your plant. Cylinders are great for stability, while curved bottom pots can be easier to pick up. If you’re drawn to an irregularly shaped pot, especially if it tapers in at the top, be prepared to re-pot more often.
The Right Pot for You Is One You Love
Choosing a pot for your plant can be a fun expression of personal taste. Knowing the benefits and challenges of different pot styles and materials will help you make an informed decision.
The right planter not only brighten up your space but provides a healthy home for your plant. Best of all, you can use it over and over again as your plants grow and you bring new additions into your collection.