Potted plants add color, texture, beauty and versatility to your indoor and outdoor spaces. Here's everything you need to know about container gardening.

Choosing the Right Planter

The type, size and shape of a pot determines not only the look of your container garden but also its cost and care. Here, get tips on how to select the best planters for your patio and garden.

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Simple Terracotta Pots Make Elegant GroupEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Almost any vessel can be used as a planter, as long as it has holes for drainage and will last one growing season, but take time to decide what type would best suit your design — and your plants.

Three simple terra-cotta pots make an elegant group when filled with architectural palms.

Size Matters

When choosing a pot, remember that large containers hold more soil and water, and therefore dry out more slowly than small planters. So, if you can tend to your pots only a couple of times a week, avoid small terra-cotta pots that will need watering up to twice a day in summer. Also think about the shape of the pot. If you plant a shrub in an urn-like container with a slim neck, as the roots spread within the pot, the plant effectively becomes locked in. When the shrub needs repotting, you will almost certainly have to break the pot.

Chic combinations
These spiky succulents in galvanized metal containers of different sizes are real showstoppers.

Several Spiky SucculentsEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Grouping

To create a pleasing display using a selection of pots, consider each for its size, shape and the material it is made from. An easy rule of thumb is to opt for pots made from the same material. You can then either choose a number of identical planters for an elegant, modern display, or group a collection of pots of different shapes and sizes to create an informal but harmonious arrangement.

Vintage herb display
A rustic set of metal pots of various sizes and shapes suits cottage garden designs.

Rustic Metal PotsEnlarge Photo+Shrink Photo-DK - How to Grow Practically Everything © 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

Choosing Containers

From bright plastics to traditional clay and wood, containers come in a vast choice of colors and materials. Some may obviously suit your garden style and budget, but also be aware that the material a pot is made from affects its durability, and the maintenance it requires.

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Excerpted from How to Grow Practically Everything

© 2010 Dorling Kindersley Limited

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