Best Planters of 2018

A planter can add life to your outdoor space or function as a small herb garden. Our shopping guide is here to help you find the best planter for your gardening needs.

How Does Your Garden Grow? A Guide to the Best Planters

A well-placed planter can brighten up a patio area or bring life to a balcony. You can also use a planter to grow fresh herbs and vegetables for your family dinners. Whether you're known for your green thumb or you're just learning to keep a cactus alive, there's a planter for you.

Finding the right planter to fit your gardening needs can be a challenge, however, especially if you're not 100 percent sure what you want from a planter. With so many planters on the market, where do you begin?

At BestReviews, we're here to cut through the jargon and simplify shopping. To bring you reliable information and product reviews you can trust, we test items in our labs and the field, talk to experts, and gather feedback from customers with firsthand experience using these products day in and day out. We never accept free products from manufacturers, so you can be sure that our recommendations are honest and unbiased.

If you're ready to purchase a planter, scroll up for BestReviews' top picks. For all you need to know to select the best planter for your home, you've come to the right place.

You can find planters in a wide range of colors and styles to suit any yard or outdoor space.

Pots, Barrels, Boxes: Choose Your Planter Type

Pot Planters
Pot planters look like large flower pots. This common style of planter is usually ceramic or plastic, but you will find a handful of exceptions. Pot planters come in a range of sizes from compact to very large. Since they tend to be taller than they are wide, pots are ideal planters for plants with long root systems.

You can find basic plastic pots for less than $10, whereas larger ceramic pot planters can cost well over $100.

Half-Barrel Planters
Half-barrel planters were traditionally crafted from beer or whiskey barrels, though today, half-barrel planters are usually made from unused barrels. A half-barrel planter can add a touch of vintage style to your garden. Most half-barrel planters are made from wood with metal bands for added structural integrity. Some half-barrel planters are made from wood-effect molded plastic or resin.

Expect to pay between $20 and $150 for a half-barrel planter, depending on the planter's size, quality, and material.

Self-Watering Planters
Self-watering planters have a water reservoir and a mechanism, such as a wick, to deliver water to your plants. Anyone who wants a low-maintenance garden will love self-watering planters. Self-watering planters are also a godsend for when you go away on vacation and don't have anyone who can come over and water your plants. You can find self-watering planters in a range of shapes, sizes, and styles.

Self-watering planters tend to cost a little more than regular planters of similar size and quality. Small self-watering planters start at around $10 to $20. Large self-watering planters with more intricate watering mechanisms can cost as much as $300 to $500.

Box Planters
Box planters are box-shaped and can be quite compact or very large. You can find box planters that sit on the ground or just off the ground on legs. You can also find wall-mounted box planters, such as window boxes. Very large box planters are known as raised beds and are often used to grow vegetables. Raised beds are an attractive alternative to digging a large vegetable garden in your yard.

Small, basic box planters cost under $10, whereas very large, high-end box planters can set you back over $500.

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Extra Care Is Required for Plants in Planters

You need to provide a plant grown in a planter with more water, fertilizer, and plant food than you would give a plant grown in the ground.

Are Wood or Ceramic Planters Best?

Let's look at the pros and cons of the different materials used to make planters.

Wood Planters
Wood planters look great in any garden. Wood planters last a long time if treated correctly, and they age well. However, wood planters tend to be heavy and can rot if you don't use a liner inside.

Glazed Ceramic Planters
Glazed ceramic planters are attractive, and they are available in a range of colors and patterns. Glazed ceramic planters also retain water well. On the downside, glazed ceramic planters are heavy, fragile, and can crack if exposed to frost.

Terra-Cotta Planters
Terra-cotta planters, which are made of unglazed ceramic, are easy to come by, aesthetically pleasing, have excellent drainage, and tend to be affordable. That said, terra-cotta planters dry out quickly in hot weather, break easily if dropped, and don't withstand frost well.

Metal Planters
Metal planters are extremely durable, often lightweight, and usually affordable. Some metals can rust, however. Metal planters also get very hot in the sun, and they can overheat roots and damage plants.

Plastic and Resin Planters
Plastic and resin planters are lightweight, generally quite durable, and available in a range of colors and styles. A few cons of plastic and resin planters are that they're not as pleasing to look at as other planters, have poor drainage, and can be so light that they blow over in high winds.

Rubber Planters
While not a common material for planters, rubber has many benefits. Rubber planters are often made from recycled materials and are therefore eco-friendly. Rubber planters are extremely durable and suitable for all seasons. However, rubber planters can be hard to find and aren't to everyone's taste.

Purchase soil mixes that are specifically designed to be used in planters.

A Note on Drainage

Good drainage is extremely important in a planter. Planters that don't drain well can become waterlogged, which causes roots to rot and generally damages plants, especially species that prefer dry conditions.

Some materials, such as terra-cotta and wood, naturally drain better than others, but any planter should have drainage holes in the base to let water seep out. If your planter doesn't provide adequate drainage, you can drill extra holes in the bottom.

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Elevated Planters Provide Better Drainage

Planters that are raised slightly off the ground—even by an eighth of an inch or so—drain better and are less likely to become waterlogged.

Tips for Keeping Plants Vibrant in Planters

  • Consider the size of your planter. Does it provide enough space for your plant to grow? Or is your planter so large that it swamps the plant inside?
  • Choose the right planter for your plant. Consider a plant's size and water requirements. If a plant likes dry conditions, choose a planter that drains well. Don't put a plant with a small root ball in a planter that's too large, or the excess soil may get waterlogged and cause root rot.
  • Think about weight. If you need to move your plant around—to catch more sun during the day or to bring it inside in cold weather—choose a lightweight planter that won't be too heavy to lift when filled with soil and plants.
  • Water your plants regularly. The soil in planters dries out quickly, especially in hot weather, so keep on top of watering.
Some people place saucers below planters to stop water from completely draining away, so the plant can absorb more water once the soil dries out. However, some plant species don't like to sit in water, so make sure you only use saucers if your plants can tolerate them.

FAQ

Q. What's the best kind of planter for growing vegetables?
A. Most planters can be used to grow produce. The best type of planter depends on what kind of vegetables you want to grow and how many plants. If you only want to grow a single tomato plant or zucchini plant, for instance, one 18- to 24-inch planter will do the job. If you want to grow a large number of vegetables, a raised bed planter is more appropriate.

Q. Can my planter stay outside all year?
A. Some planters can happily stay out in the elements all year-round, but others are susceptible to cold weather and may crack if left out in the frost. If you live in a warm climate where you rarely get frost, this is not a concern. But if you spend most of the winter shoveling snow, be sure to get an all-weather planter, or bring your planter indoors during the cooler months.

Q. Which type of planter is best for growing trees?
A. If you want to grow a tree in a planter, it will need to be a large one. For growing trees, BestReviews recommends a planter with a minimum of two cubic feet of growing space for each square foot of canopy size.

When growing vegetables in planters, use fresh soil every year to improve aeration and avoid plant diseases.

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