Buying Guide

Best Flower Pots for Your Yard

Planter Considerations and Types
Two urn-style planters on a porch that have been planted with greenery, flowers and spiller plants.

Consider the size and weight of your plant and its watering needs before selecting a planter. A small planter can impede the growth of a larger plant.

  • Make sure your planter has enough room for a fair amount of soil and root growth. Determine how large your plant will be at maturation to estimate how much space it will need.
  • Check that the planter has drainage holes or is made from material you can drill holes into.
  • If using a separate saucer, make sure it is slightly larger than the bottom of the pot to leave room for water to collect. 
  • Make sure your planter can withstand harsh weather conditions if you plan to leave it outside all year long.
  • Colder climates require frost-resistant containers like stone, cement or wood.  
  • Dark-colored pots absorb more heat than lighter colors.
  • Check to see how much light your plant requires. For full sun, choose a pot made from nonporous material to prevent evaporation.
  • If you are unable to water daily, make sure planters have a drip tray or reservoir.
  • Be sure you follow the watering guide recommendations for your selected plant.

Tip: You can improve drainage in most cases simply by poking or drilling holes in the bottom of the planter.

Comparing Planter Types
Feature/Benefits Other Considerations
Ceramic - Plant Pots Attractive Available in a variety of colors and designs Retains water better than clay Breakable Higher upfront cost Heavy Poor drainage without a saucer May crack if frozen
Metal - Plant Pots Affordable Acquires character with age Generally lightweight (especially tin) Multi-use Dents easily May overheat soil, damaging roots Rusts easily unless liner is applied Poor drainage without a saucer
Plastic - Plant Pots Available in a variety of styles Lightweight Long lasting Resists breakage Can be manufactured to resemble other materials such as wood or stone Does not weather well Can look artificial Top-heavy plants may fall over if plastic is lightweight Can have poor drainage
Clay - Plant Pots Unglazed clay (terra cotta) Attractive Easy to mix and match Excellent drainage Readily available Reasonably priced Breakable Heavy May crack if frozen
Wood - Plant Pots Acquires character with age Aesthetically pleasing Affordable Good drainage Natural wood retains moisture Heavy Affected by excess moisture, though a liner will help prevent rotting and splitting Stain fades over time if outdoors
Composite - Plant Pots Stoneware Attractive Available in a variety of colors and designs Retains water better than clay Solid/strong Glazes are scratch-resistant Frost resistant Breakable Expensive Heavy Poor drainage without a saucer
Care and Maintenance
A person applying granular fertilizer to the base of a plant in a planter.

Caring for your planters will ensure they continue to look good and safeguard your plants.

  • Since the roots are container-bound and cannot search for nutrients, provide plenty of water, fertilizer and plant food.
  • Purchase soil mixes especially formulated for containers.
  • Garden soil can contain diseases and drains poorly, so use fresh soil every year to provide good aeration and avoid accumulation of fertilizer salts.
  • Potted plants require more fertilizer and water than plants grown in the ground.
  • Soil in pots freezes more quickly, so move tender plants before frost.
  • Move terra cotta and ceramic planters inside to prevent breaking or cracking during harsh weather.
  • Water frequently, especially in the hotter months of summer.
A terra cotta strawberry planter beside a wood fence.

Here are a few accessories and add-ons to consider for your container gardens:

  • Accessories: Many planters come with optional accessories such as water saucers to protect the surface under the plant and to keep water from completely draining away. Porous saucers, like those made with clay, will not completely protect the surface beneath them, so depending on where you place them you may want to consider plastic or ceramic saucers.
  • Cache Planters: Cache planters do not have drainage holes. They are great for drop-in plants or for multi-use around the house.  
  • Galvanized Metal, Copper and Lead Planters: These metal containers offer an attractive and distinctive style that provides a unique accent to outdoor areas. Materials may not weather well.
  • Half Whiskey Barrels: Large wooden planters for large plants or a large container garden, whiskey barrels are attractive additions to a yard or deck. 
  • Hanging Baskets: You can buy plants and flowers in plastic white or green baskets accompanied by a hook for hanging. You can also buy the basket and make the container yourself. These baskets can be heavy when filled with soil and water so make sure you have sturdy hardware in place before you hang them.
  • Low Bowls: Low Bowls are growing in popularity with a wide opening for easy planting. They are great for succulents or other low root systems, and often used for decorating or centerpieces. 
  • Orchid Pots: Great for plants that need additional oxygen, orchid planters have extra holes to allow the plants to breath. 
  • Pocket Planters: Small space solutions to allow for multiple root systems. Ideal for strawberry plants, herbs, or succulents.  
  • Self-Watering Planters: These planters include a reservoir for water plus a mechanism, such as a wick, to provide the plant with a sustained water supply. Self-watering planters tend to be a bit more expensive than standard planters but they reduce the frequency of watering. They are also helpful when placing plants in locations that are difficult to access.
  • Window Boxes: Window boxes are available in plastic or wood and come in a variety of lengths. They provide an attractive accent to your home, displaying seasonal foliage, flowers and more.
  • Wire and Moss Baskets: Plants grow through spaces in the moss basket, creating a nice full look. These baskets, however, are not waterproof, so use them outdoors only where water drainage is not an issue.

When you explore the wide variety of planters available, you are sure to find something that fits your decor and provides a happy home for your favorite flowers, ornamental grasses or veggies and herbs.

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