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How To Choose The Right Pot For House Plants

Choosing the right pot for your House Plant is as important as providing the right light and proper watering. If you ask a number of gardeners you'll probably get a variety of responses as to what kind of pot to use. The trick is to take the plant's needs into consideration.

Do you go with a plastic or terracotta pot? what about a glazed pot? Each have their pros and cons and their devotees. I'm an unglazed terracotta kind of guy and once you take some things into consideration you may find you prefer one type of pot or another.

Terracotta post are great for people who may be water worriers. If you are constantly wondering if your plant needs water or if you are always watering- terracotta may be the medium that best suits you. Unglazed terracotta pots are porous and the pot absorbs water and allows it to evaporate. I find that to be a plus for plants like cacti & succulents that are susceptible to over watering. Another feature of terracotta pots is their weight, they're good stabilizers if you summer your plants outdoors. They're least likely to fall over with a gust of wind and plants that are top heavy won't fall over easily either indoors and outdoors.

On the other hand:
If you are an under waterer then your water loving plants will need extra care and watering. If the plant were to fall chances are that your pot would break and need replacement. Then there's the cost of terracotta pots, they're sometimes very expensive -especially the nicer ones. Some people find them boring since they usually come in one color but for me that's an appeal especially as the pot ages and it takes on a natural patina.

Plastic pots are pretty inexpensive and are readily available and most plants come in a plastic pot. Should it ever fall over your pot probably won't break, it may just get a few scratches but that's about it. If you're an over waterer your plants that like to be drier won't take kindly to your generous watering. If you're a busy person or don't water on a schedule plastic pots may be good for you. If they don't have enough drainage holes you can easily punch a few more with a sharp instrument or a hot nail. You can find them in various colors and shapes and plastic is easily molded so you can find some nicer pots with interesting patterns or designs. If you have a large collection of plants that need to fit on a windowsill square plastic pots take up less space than round ones because you can place them side-by-side.

On the other hand:
They can be flimsy and cheap looking. They're susceptible to tipping over if your plant is top heavy-especially when the soil is dry. If your plants play a big role in your house decor they may cheapen the look you have spent time and money on. If they don't have enough drainage holes or if there are dents at the bottom from the molding process water can collect and lead to root rot and possibly death.

Glazed pots are popular because they come in a wide range of colors, textures and styles. A nice glazed pot can sit in your home and not look out of place but actually enhance the aesthetic value of your surroundings and your house plants. Since they're glazed they are good for plants that like to be moist or those that like to sit in water as you'll loose less moisture around the roots to evaporation through the pot or simply from water draining rapidly. They're a decent choice for people who find that they don't water their houseplants enough.

On the other hand:
They're not great choices for people who are heavy handed with the watering cans. Sometimes like the white pot in the picture above they are sold without any drainage holes. They can break if your plant falls from it's spot and purchasing/replacing them can be very expensive. They don't make great candidate for plants that like to be on the drier side such as cacti & succulents. If you have the time and you don't mind the extra work you can use attractive glazed pots with just about any plant if you sit a plastic or unglazed terracotta pot inside. You'll have to remove the inner pot to an area where you can water and allow it to drain completely and then place it back inside the glazed pot.

When considering what kind of pot to use for your house plant take into consideration first what your plant's watering needs are and then your track record for watering. Then what you can afford and what, if any, impact the look of the pot will have on your surroundings or the plant.

Some tips from personal experience:
When you're using an unglazed terracotta pot for the first time submerge it in a bucket of water for 24 hours and allow it to soak up water. The reason for this is that after you pot your plant in it and go to water the first time a lot of the water will be absorbed by the pot. You may think you've watered in your plant really well and come back in a day or two and wonder why it looks so dry.

I really like terracotta and since it's expensive I check out the thrift stores near me for used pots. They come very cheap and sometimes less than the price of buying a plain plastic pot brand new. Make sure to clean and disinfect any used pots you bring home before you using them. Visit garage sales and flea markets for nice used pots. Browse the free or barter section of your local Craigslist or see what people are giving away on Freecycle. People move or sometimes loose interest in gardening and will find an environmentally friendly way of unloading pots, nicer and cheap plastic one toos.


  1. You forgot a big "con" under the second option... it's PLASTIC. Soulless, cluttering-up-our-landfills plastic. EW! (Yes, I know, this is a personal issue with me.) Oh, and it can break, too. I've cracked older, heavy plastic pots over the years.

  2. LOL Good point(s) BSG.

  3. Anonymous2:22 PM

    When choosing the perfect pot, shouldn't you know what size to make the pot? I didn't see anything in this blog about picking a size.

  4. Anon,

    I've been saving the size (and color also important) for a future post that I may get to one day.

  5. Anonymous5:15 PM


    A great article, especially for those looking for practical information. I love your "on the other hand" comments too...they remind me of The Fiddler On The Roof. All good wishes to you.



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