How Do I Choose the Best Pottery Planters?

D. Grey

In selecting the best planter for houseplants or container gardens, you have many options to choose from, and ultimately, you should select the pottery planters that suit the needs of your plants most adequately. There are several factors to account for when considering the health of your plants, most importantly, becoming familiar with the plant type and knowing what size requirements it may have. Pottery planters are often inexpensive and can be found in a multitude of styles that can be both functional and attractive. For example, terracotta planters are often left in their raw form, but they can also be finished with glaze, paint, or decorative stones.

Some planters are made of terracotta clay.
Some planters are made of terracotta clay.

The size of the planter chosen should be appropriate to the plant it will hold. If starting with an immature plant, try to choose a planter that is large enough to meet the plant’s needs for at least a year, taking growth into account. If the plant shows signs of outgrowing its pot, you may need to place it in a larger container. Also consider the moisture needs of the plant. Glazed pottery planters will retain moisture better than unglazed pots. Additionally, you may wish to choose a pot with a water reservoir, often referred to as a “self-watering planter,” which can minimize the time required to care for plants.

The origin of the pottery planters is a factor that may influence the decisions of some consumers. Italy is famous for producing terracotta pots, but China and Vietnam also produce a wide variety. Chinese and Vietnamese pots are often lighter in color, while Italian pots have darker orange or red hues. This is more of an aesthetic decision than a quality concern. Regardless of the origin of the pottery planter, you should make your choice based on which planter is appropriate for your plant.

Traditional terracotta pots can generally be expected to last for 8-10 years, if protected from a harsh environment, being dropped, or anything that could chip or crack the pot. If you are working with plants in an active environment, it may be wise to choose a glazed pot which is coated in a protective layer and may last a lifetime. Glazed planters are far more resistant to chipping and cracking and will often survive being tipped over or dropped short distances. If the planter will be kept indoors and out of high-traffic areas, an unglazed pot may suffice, but for plants that will be exposed to the elements or are at risk for being bumped or knocked over, a glazed pot may be a better choice.

When selecting pottery planters, always inspect them carefully for surface cracks or chips. Each pot should have adequate drainage via one or more holes in the bottom. If the pot has been glazed, be sure to inspect the inside for any damage that may be obscured by the decorative finish.

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