When choosing a style and material, consider where the container is going. Wooden ones may look great on a deck or in a natural setting, while concrete may be more suited to formal gardens. Synthetic containers (resins, plastics, fiberglass, polymers) have come a long way in mimicking materials such as stone but can be pricey. That ever-popular “clay pot” is all over the board – from inexpensive Mexican to high-end Italian made.
In addition to materials, there’s size – which does matter when it comes to container gardens. In most cases, the bigger the pot, the better – not just for creating good scale but also for giving plants plenty of room to stretch their roots and grow.
- First, know where the container will be located so that you purchase the proper size, shape, style and material. Big-scale pots can create a focal point in a garden. Choose a color and finish that will complement plantings, keeping in mind how the pot will look in winter when landscapes can be brown and barren. And select a style—traditional or contemporary—that enhances its surroundings, be it a casual cottage garden, a formal boxwood one, or desert rock garden.
- Determine how it will be used: a container garden brimming with annuals, a single shrub or tree, a water garden? In most cases, err on the side of wider for accommodating root balls and growth.
- Make sure the pot contains a drainage hole – or that you’re able to drill one in it. That may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to overlook when caught up in aesthetics. Avoid saucers, unless you’re concerned about water overflow onto surfaces, because standing water attracts mosquitoes.
- Choose a lightweight soil-less potting mix when planting – not heavy potting soils that can retain too much moisture. And don’t feel compelled to fill a large, deep pot with only soil. For plantings such as annuals and perennials with shallow roots, fill two-thirds of the pot with pine bark, leaves or other mulch and top with one-third potting mix, which makes the planted container easier to move around. Your back will thank you, too!