Choosing Containers for Container Gardening – Match Garden Containers to Your Landscape and Home Style

When choosing containers for container gardening there are many things to be considered. Among these are materials, colors and sizes and shapes. Who knew there would be so many decisions to be made when choosing containers for your container garden? When deciding the type of pot to use, consider the frequency of watering required, weight of the container, and cost.

The first thing to consider when choosing containers for container gardening is the material the container made of. Here are some plus and minuses to think about at your try to make your decision.

Solid Wood Garden Containers:

Many containers are constructed of wooden materials. These include window boxes and the ever popular half whiskey barrels.

Wood and pressed fiber pots (made of wood fibers) are considered semi-porous. This means you won’t have to water your garden containers as often as you would with terra cotta (porous), but more often than you would with plastic containers (non-porous). The main drawback of wood is the fact that it deteriorates. One of the ways to overcome this is to line your wooden planter with plastic to slow this process. You may also have metal liners custom made in a machine shop if you plan on using your wooden container for years to come. If you decide to use wooden containers, be sure they are made with rot-resistant materials like cedar or redwood; otherwise, you’ll find yourself replacing your containers on a regular basis.

One of the things to keep in mind when using wooden containers is the fact that many of these are treated with wood preservatives. These preservatives may leach into the soil during watering and for this reason, using wooden containers for fruits, vegetables and other edibles may not be the best idea if you are concerned about your health.

Terra Cotta Clay Garden Containers:

When choosing containers for container gardening, you will find a plethora of terra cotta planters and containers available. For a natural look that is always in good taste, terra cotta is number one in popularity. The orange earthy color is a great complementary color for the green foliage of plants.

There are a few disadvantages to terra cotta when choosing containers for your garden. Terra cotta is not frost-proof and can be easily cracked and broken. It can be heavy when filled with potting mix and not easily moved. Because it is porous, terra cotta needs frequent watering in order to keep the plants and the container moist.

Pottery Garden Containers :

Pottery is similar to terra cotta in that it is a porous material. When shopping for outdoor pottery you’ll easily find many beautiful containers. The thing to remember when choosing containers for container gardening is that the durability of outdoor pottery is dependent on the firing process and manufacture. It’s difficult to judge the quality of the pottery, particularly since it is made in so many countries.

In the sunshine the outdoor pottery, especially of the clay variety, needs to be watered often, the same as terra cotta containers, to prevent adverse drying of the plants in the containers. In freezing conditions, outdoor pottery most likely needs to be brought indoors to prevent freezing and cracking of your outdoor pottery containers.

Glass and Plastic and Fiberglass Containers :

Glass, Plastic and Fiberglass containers are non-porous materials. Therefore you will find you do not need to water containers as often as with porous pots. On the other hand, you need to watch you containers just as carefully as you do your terra cotta and pottery pots to insure you do not over-water your container plants. Over-watering can do as much damage as letting your plants dry out. With over watering of containers, your plants can develop root rot, mold, or other plant diseases

Plastic and fiberglass garden containers also have the advantage of being very lightweight, so they are great choices for hanging baskets and window boxes.

Stone Garden Containers :

Stone containers are beautiful and at the same time cumbersome and awkward to move. If you decide to use stone when choosing containers for container gardening, they need to be housed in a permanent site because they are so difficult to move around. If you don’t like the look of raw stone, check the box above for instructions on how to distress stone planters. Reconstitued stone or concrete are cheaper alternatives.

Metal Garden Containers :

Metal containers, also non-porous, have the same attributes as plastic and fiberglass. Plants look stunning in old lead and copper containers. When these containers have developed a green copper patina or a gray lead container, the containers are a great compliment to the plants.

While metal containers can be expensive, they last for years and add great ambiance to your garden. Search flea markets and yard sales for these containers as you will find an abundance of suitable metal containers for very reasonalbe prices if you look carefully.

Frost Free Garden Containers:

Frost resistant ceramics are now available in most areas for outdoor planting. These outdoor pottery items come in many styles and can also be found in different glazed finishes.

These all weather outdoor garden containers can be left out all winter. All weather outdoor pottery is able to withstand any type of freezing winter conditions and alleviate the extreme drying conditions of blazing summers. Many stores have specially marked areas where they display this type of garden container. Look for the distinctive banner decorated with a snowflake that is the universal logo for these frost free pots.

Distressing Terra Cotta and Stone Containers
Many people like the old look of distressed terra cotta and stone pots. If this is a look you prefer, it is easy to achieve in a short amount of time. To speed up the look of distressed terra cotta, paint some live, cultured yogurt on the surface of the pot. Terra cotta is very porous and soaks up the moisture quickly. Stone pots will take a few days to dry out.

Place your yogurt painted containers outside in a shady location and in about a month, green moss will start growing on the outside of the pot.

If you prefer the look of salt, place the container in a sunny location, and the salts in the clay will leach out, leaving a white patina.

Some General Guidelines When Choosing Containers for Container Gardening

Here are some tips and ideas to keep in mind when choosing garden containers:

  • Decorative pots without drainage holes are unsuitable for container gardening. At least four drainage holes are recommended in the bottom of each container. Don’t despair if there are no holes in a container you absolutly love. Holes are easily drilled into a container.
  • Mix and match your pots to get a diverse look and add interest to your container garden. Just as in home decorating, your container garden can reflect a decorating style. It can be traditional, Tuscan, contemporary or one of many other styles. Think of the look you are trying to achive when you are selecting your garden containers.
  • Dark colored containers absorb heat which could possibly damage the plant roots. If you do use dark colored pots, placing them in shaded areas will help to keep them cooler and protect delicate plant roots.
  • Consider location and mobility when choosing a container. Choose containers of suitable weight if the plant is going to be moved often or hung from an eave or window.
  • Garden containers come in all shapes and sizes, tall and thin, short and long and everything in between. We will discuss this in more detail as we consider individual plantings.

All Garden Containers Have Advantages and Disadvantages

When it comes to choosing containers for container gardening, most of it will probably be done for aesthetic reasons. Most of us have preferences whether it be terra cotta, wood, or plastic. We are led by stlye, cost and ease of maintenance. Whatever you decide, be sure to look at the pluses and minuses of various garden containers. Choose the attributes that are important to you, whether it is beauty, price or ease of maintenance and make your choices from there in order to be happy and at ease with your container garden.

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