When choosing a pot for your plant, of course you want something that complements the decor of your space and brings you joy. It’s also a good idea to keep optimal plant health in mind, which means there are other important characteristics of planters to consider besides the all-important: "is it cute?"
In general, these are the key factors to consider when selecting the right pot to help your plant thrive:
Most plants like to feel snug in their containers, so a good rule of thumb for pot sizing is the less extra space, the better. That might feel counterintuitive to new plant parents who want to give their plants room to grow. However, if a plant is in a pot that’s too large for it, the soil will take longer to dry out, increasing the plant’s chances of getting root rot, fungus, or attracting pests.
Stick with a planter that’s around the same size as the plastic pot your plant arrives in and you’ll set yourself up for success.
Usually, plant pots are either ceramic, terracotta, or plastic, and these materials all affect different kinds of plants in different ways. Terracotta pots are always recommended for succulents or semi-succulents, as they’re extremely porous and can absorb excess water as well as help keep a healthy airflow around your plant.
However, for plants like Calatheas or Fittonias, which don’t like bone-dry soil, we wouldn’t recommend planting directly into a terracotta pot. Instead, look at ceramic options, or PLA (bioplastic) if you’re concerned about it falling and breaking.
The third factor to consider when picking a pot for your plant is maybe the most important to its health, and that’s…
To maintain optimal health, most plants should be in a planter with a drainage hole. We know, we know, it can be messy if the water leaks through onto a floor or rug (fortunately, we’ve got coasters for that), but especially for new plant parents, pots with drainage holes are key.
If you fall in love with a planter that doesn’t have a drainage hole, you can always keep your plant in the plastic nursery pot it arrived in, and place that inside the new planter. That way, your plant can let air flow in and water flow out as needed. If you're using a plant basket, you can place the nursery pot on top of a drip tray or repurposed saucer to catch excess water.
It’s important to remember to never leave your plant sitting in water, so if your plant is still in its plastic pot inside a decorative planter without drainage, it’s best to take that plastic pot out of the decorative planter when watering.
The reason we recommend drainage holes so strongly is because the #1 reason most houseplants die is from overwatering, and the easiest way to prevent that is to let the plant release water that it no longer needs.
If you’re leaning towards a hanging planter, the main factors to keep in mind are the same. You’ll want to make sure the pot isn’t too big or too small, that it has some drainage, and that it’s made of a material that works well with your plant’s watering needs.
The biggest addition to consider when hanging a plant is: how easily will you be able to access it on a semi-regular basis to dust and clean its leaves? It’s important to disturb your plant’s leaves regularly, ideally by dusting or cleaning, to help it absorb a maximum amount of sunlight and keep pests at bay.
We hope this little primer has been helpful as you start looking for the right pot for your beautiful new plant! Don’t forget to check out our pots and planters while you’re here. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org.