Containers for Houseplants

When choosing a container, consider your plant's needs, your decorating needs, and your houseplant skills.
Matching Plants and Pots
Pots and Baskets There are pots and baskets to fit
every plant and personality.

Most houseplants today are sold in standard plastic pots. Some plant owners prefer to replace these pots. They choose from pots that come in an almost-infinite variety of materials, types, sizes, and colors.

At its simplest level, the purpose of a container is to hold the right amount of growing medium for the plant. In other words, the container you choose should match the size of your plant. Small plants should be in small containers and large plants in large containers.

Plants that are too small for their containers look out of proportion and grow poorly since the soil stays overly moist for too long a time. Plants that are too large for their containers also look out of proportion. They become root-bound (roots fill up the whole pot, causing stunted growth), and often topple over, since their pots don't have enough weight to hold them up.

Drainage Holes

  • The best pots have holes in their bottoms for excess water to drain out. If water collects in the bottom of a pot, it can cause root rot, which eventually kills plants.
  • Because of these holes, each pot needs a plastic or clay saucer underneath it to prevent excess water from spilling onto your carpet, floor, or furniture. Many hanging pots have built-in saucers to collect excess water. Be careful when watering plants in these pots since their saucers are shallow and water sometimes overflows.
  • A few of the most decorative pots have no drainage holes. Knowing how much to water plants in these pots is difficult and requires far more skill than watering plants in traditional pots does. Still, many indoor gardeners use these lovely pots with great success by carefully avoiding overwatering.
  • Tip: The beginning houseplant grower can get the look of these ornamental pots without the risk of root rot simply by putting the less attractive pots (with their saucers) inside bigger, prettier pots such as jardinieres or wicker baskets. This way, water drains well, but you keep the desired look.

Continued on page 2:  Types of Containers