Choosing The Right Containers For Plants

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Choosing Containers for Plants

Choosing pots can be an important business; you should look at the size and type that's suited to what you are looking to grow and also material that is practical for purpose and position in the garden.

Looking in a visual perspective – size and colour are as important as shape and style. Even if you want the freedom to decide the exact position for a pot when you have arrived home, you should at least have an idea of the rough proportions that are appropriate to the space available. An ornate stone urn made up of large size would overpower a tiny garden or back yard; however a few small flowerpots would be lost at the far end of a long path.

With the increased popularity of container gardening, pots are now available in a wider range of materials to suit just about all tastes and pockets.

Having mentioned the points above, it should be said that the choice of pot should not be a dull business full of restrictions and dire warnings of unsuitability. Choosing a container should always remain a pleasure of many in relation to container gardening, especially if you have a weakness for beautiful and unusual china and wooden objects indoors. This can transfer as an irresistible desire to fill the garden with pots that have a beautiful shape, and appealing surface or fascinating decorative details.

Economical pots
The most economical pots (as expected) to buy are not the most glamorous, although they are practical. Planters made from natural cellular fibre come in the shape of long, narrow troughs as well as round, square and hexagonal designs; they possess an earthy colour, with a knobbly texture that might not suit all tastes but provide excellent growing conditions for plants because the fibre breathes. Intended to be for temporary use, lasting a couple of years, after which the fibre is bio-degradable.

These inexpensive pots are ideal if you want to fill a sunny yard or balcony with colour on a budget; they could be positioned in informal groups of five or seven containing seasonal flowers – fuchsias, geraniums, petunias and silver-leaf – or even vegetables – tomatoes, peppers, and aubergines.

Plastic Pots
Looking at a horticultural point of view, plastic pots are known to be most effective as short-term plants as the material does not breathe. If you want something fairly simple in which plants may be more likely to thrive in the long term, then ordinary clay flower pots would be an excellent choice - smaller sizes are usually machine-made and therefore low in price. Half-pots are extremely useful for plants such as geraniums, pot marigolds, polyanthys and opetunias for their wide and shallow form which makes a more balanced composition. They are also useful for azaleas and all plants that require only a shallow root depth.

Machine-made clay pots
These pots may be handy and inexpensive, but their more sophisticated relatives – handmade terracotta in ornate or traditionally simple designs – are among the most useful and versatile garden containers. The material has a smooth, warm texture; it is a pleasant, earthy colour that blends into so many settings, and being porous it allows soil to drain elegantly, and roots to breathe. It is also suitable for wide range of plants including shrubs, perennials, bulbs, annuals, herbs and even vegetables.

Terracotta pots
Although the character and feel of terracotta is associated with sunny climates such as the southern Mediterranean or California, pots, urns and troughs can be visually versatile, blending well into many settings from a plain new house, or modern apartment block to more ornate Colonial, Georgian and Victorian buildings, and with many architectural materials.

A practical word of caution is necessary here; by no means all terracotta pots are tolerant of frost. This is especially true from those made in areas where the weather is a temperature all year round, so its important to check when buying if you live in an area where the temperature normally drops below the freezing level in winter as pots may crack and even burst in these conditions. It is possible, however, to buy frost-proof terracotta pots, which often come with a guarantee that there will be no frost damage.

The Garden Planner is an online resource for free garden design ideas, landscaping advice and gardening ideas including a range of free garden design plans for different styles and shapes of garden. Find out more at
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