Decorating Guides

How to Choose a Planter

Plants are a beautiful addition to any room and can bring a crisp, lively feel to an otherwise stale environment. When shopping for the perfect planter, there are several factors that require careful consideration.

First of all, you’ll need to understand the different materials that planters are made of, as well as some of the pros and cons of each. Another important factor to consider when choosing the best planter for your needs is the size – your plants will need to fit comfortably; not too snug and not too loosely. Finally, you will need to consider drainage holes: why they are useful, what to do if your perfect planter doesn’t have one, and consequences when using planters that are not equipped with drainage holes.

What materials are planters made of?

There are three main materials used for planters; each is listed below along with some pros and cons of each style:

1. Ceramic/Glazed

Ceramic pots are artful, whether they are glazed or left with a matte finish. They are eye-catching and serve more than a functional purpose – they create a statement on their own. These planters are often seen used with succulents, as they tend to get quite heavy the larger they are. If you know your planter will remain stationary and you’re looking for an added artistic touch, this may be the right planter for you.


  • Ideal for plants that thrive in moist soil, like tropical varieties
  • Aesthetically pleasing and very durable
  • Easily hold top-heavy plants due to weighted bottom


  • Not easy to mobilize larger sizes due to weight
  • Tend to be the most expensive planter option
Ceramic Wall Planter

2. Terra Cotta/Clay

Clay pots are the most commonly seen planters in gardens – they are a burnt orange color and can hold a variety of plants. Since this style is so popular, it is easy to mix and match sizes and shapes while keeping a uniform color scheme.


  • Ideal for plants that prefer a dryer environment, such as desert plants
  • Significantly more affordable than ceramic styles
  • Neutral color allows plants to shine
  • Marks water level (color turns darker when wet)


  • This is a delicate material that will break easily if dropped
  • Can dry extremely quickly in hot weather; it is important to watch plants more closely under these circumstances
  • May crack in cold weather, requiring replacement
Hanging Planter
Urn Planter
Clay Planter
Terracotta Planter
Natural Terracotta Planter

3. Plastic

Plastic planters are the most affordable of the three options; in fact, most plants, when purchased, are already stored within a plastic planter. Although this original encasement is often disposed of, these plastic planters can actually be washed and reused! They work well for starting seeds and for multiplying plants. It is important to note, however, that plastic will keep soil moist for a much longer period of time than clay planters and so preventing root rot is of dire importance – that’s where drainage holes come in (more on that later).


  • The most budget-friendly planter option
  • Available in a multitude of colors, sizes, and shapes
  • Much lighter than ceramic and clay
  • Reusable and easy to clean


  • May become brittle following long exposure to direct sunlight
  • Vibrant colors may fade under the sun
Box Planter
Polyethylene Planter
Old Bronze Planter
Plastic Planter
Wall Planter
Alpine White Planter

Which size planter should I use?

This is a common question when considering the use of pots and planters. There are a couple of key factors to consider before purchasing your planter – check out the guidelines below:

  • Choose a planter that is similar in size to your plant. This tip is simple enough; however, it is critical. Plants love a little bit of space to spread out but if you provide too much space, plants may end up sitting in water for an extended period of time. This is likely to affect the overall health of your plant. On the other hand, a planter that is too small will constrict your plant, preventing the appropriate absorption of water for optimal growth.

  • When going bigger, upsize slowly. You may be working with a plant that has outgrown its current planter. Although it may be tempting to make a jump from a small to a large planter, thinking of extended growth, your best option is to size up incrementally. Plants need time and just enough space to flourish and if you go too big too soon, you will likely find yourself overwatering and consequently suffocating it, potentially leading to root rot.

  • Know your plant’s root size. Plants that have large roots require deeper planters, while plants with small roots can easily thrive in a shallow planter. Large houseplants that have a lot of foliage, for instance, will have a heftier and more complex root system that requires depth.

    Desert plants, on the other hand, can be placed in shallow planters. If you are unsure of your plant’s root system, slowly pull it out of its current planter and check out the bottom. If you see roots filling up the pot, it is time to upsize. However, if you see plenty of soil along with some roots, your plant is content in the size of its current planter.

Vinyl Planter
Wood Planter
Small Planter
Medium Planter
Stoneware Planter
Metal Planter

Should my planter have a hole at the bottom?

Yes. Drainage is of vital importance to ensure your plant’s best possible health. Using a planter without a drainage hole may cause water to pool at the bottom – when this happens, your plant is unable to absorb oxygen or nutrients. Without being able to “breathe,” your plant will suffocate. The excess water will also cause the growth of fungus, also known as root rot.

If your planter does not have a hole at the bottom, you can drill one in. Another tip is to use a plastic planter with a drainage hole inside a larger planter without a drainage hole.

Best Tips

  • From least to most expensive planter materials: plastic, clay, ceramic
  • Check root sizes before purchasing your planter
  • Upsize your planters incrementally
  • Look for or create drainage holes for optimized plant health

Although proper watering and sufficient sunlight are ultimately what foster plant health, finding the right planter makes each of these tasks easier. Now, get out there and find your perfect planter!

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