Types of Gardening Containers

Learn about different kinds of gardening containers and which one is right for you.

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

©2010, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Gardeners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Gardeners.com

©2011, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Photo By: Image courtesy of Ben Rollins

Photo By: Image courtesy of Gardeners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of ProvenWinners.com

Photo By: Image courtesy of Gardeners.com

©2008, Dorling Kindersley Limited

Wooden Container Wow

Solid wood containers provide great water retention, but old crates or twig-constructed containers, like this one, need to be lined with a water-resistant material before filling with soil. Burlap gives an eye-pleasing, rustic appearance, but line it with plastic to help it last through the growing season. Remember to puncture the bottom of your plastic liner with a few drainage holes.

Glazed Ceramic Sizzles

Grab glazed ceramic and earthenware containers to inject your garden with vibrant splashes of color. Glaze finishes feature bright colors that won’t fade but can chip. Ceramic and stoneware containers can be hefty, so place it where you want it before filling and planting it. Protect containers from ground contact during winter in cold regions. If possible, store them in an unheated garage or shed.

Classic Concrete

Concrete containers often feature angular lines and traditional patterns. The weight of the material lends an air of establishment to even the newest garden. Concrete provides good insulation for soil, moderating soil temperature and moisture loss, but they are heavy. Place concrete planters where you want them and then plant.

Recycled Planter

Any object with an empty pocket can serve as a container garden, even an old pair of garden boots. When recycled containers offer shallow planting areas, you can’t miss with succulents. These shallow-rooted, water-hoarding plants adapt easily to tight quarters.

Modern Metal

Metal containers infuse any space with an industrial, modern feel. Choose plantings for metal containers carefully — they need to be able to withstand heat and drought. Make sure you locate metal containers near a water source, because the metal will heat soil, and you’ll need to water often. Pair a pebble mulch with metal containers for a strong urban look.

Terra-Cotta Shines

Terra-cotta or clay pots come in many sizes, shapes and styles. Unglazed terra-cotta (shown) is porous and dries out quickly. It works well in a shady situation like this or for growing Mediterranean herbs, like lavender. Glazed terra-cotta is the go-to pot for sunny spots. Inquire about the source of terra-cotta. Those types made in warm regions definitely won’t withstand prolonged freezing winter temperatures and tend to flake or chip when exposed to cold.

A Basket of Blooms

Recycle an empty wicker basket by filling it with pretty garden flowers. For best results, line wicker with plastic—empty soil bags cut to fit work well. Poke a few drainage holes in the plastic before adding soil. Expect a plastic-lined basket to last more than one growing season; unlined baskets typically last one season only.

Stone Pots

Choose stone to give a garden a sense of graceful style. Stone increases in beauty as it ages, often donning a moss coating. Stone offers a frost-proof material for cold regions and insulates soil from moisture loss and heat. Position stone planters before filling and planting. You’ll pay a premium price for stone, but it will last a lifetime—and beyond.

Bag Your Garden

Grow bags allow you to raise crops anywhere. Made of flexible, lightweight polypropylene blends, grow bags feel like heavy felt. This material allows plant roots to breathe and prevents overwatering or heat build-up in soil. The resulting plant boasts a healthy root system. In cold regions, empty bags before winter and fold them for easy storage.

Colorful Colander

Search your kitchen, attic, basement and garage for objects you can press into service as containers. An unused colander makes a quirky and beautiful hanging basket—an ideal home for alpine strawberries. Remember to line recycled containers with plastic before planting. Poke a few drainage holes in plastic to permit drainage.

Handsome Hypertufa

Create your own stone-look container with a handmade hypertufa container. These stone imitations boast lighter weight than concrete and are easy to make from a blend of peat moss, perlite and quick-setting concrete. Hypertufa is more porous than stone, so it provides an ideal setting for alpine and succulent plants, both of which demand good drainage.

Self-Watering Plastic Pots

Self-watering containers blend good looks with a built-in water reservoir, which means you need to water less often. When choosing self-watering hanging baskets, make sure your hanging hardware can support the extra weight of the water. Be sure to open drainage holes on self-watering containers that are exposed to the weather, or you risk waterlogged soil during rainy spells.

Resin Planters

Faux stone containers feature stone aggregates mixed with other materials, such as plastic resins or fiberglass. The resulting pot looks like a classic stone planter but lacks the weight. It’s a perfect choice for placing on a deck or stairs, where a weighty stone pot could cause damage. A faux stone container can grow moss, but it doesn’t develop the same aged patina that traditional stone does. Count on faux stone resin planters for a frostproof choice.

Tubs of Produce

Modern plastic containers feature outstanding colors that give a garden snap and sizzle. Shapes vary from traditional terra-cotta pot shapes to tubs and trugs. Plastic is lightweight, frostproof and durable. Because plastic isn’t porous, it keeps soil moist, which means less watering for you. Dark colored plastic pots in full sun do heat soil as they absorb sunlight, and some plastics become brittle over time.

Natural Stone

Choose a carved stone planter for unsurpassed durability and versatility in garden design. Stone blends beautifully into Asian, modern and cottage gardens. Stone planters often offer shallow planting pockets that work well with alpine crops and succulents. Make sure the spot you plan to place a stone planter can support the hefty weight. Over time, stone develops a natural patina and often grows moss.