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Indoor Plant Pots: Your Ultimate Selection Guide

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An integral part of any indoor plant arrangement is the choice of pots and choosing the right pot for your plant is a balancing act.

You need to balance your needs for pot design that will suit your personal tastes and the space you have selected for the plant, with the needs of the plant to ensure its longevity.

In this article, we’ll have a good look at both aspects of indoor plant pot selection, so you can make a choice that both you and your plant are happy to live with.

While neutral containers can offer a unifying back drop for your plants, a bold choice that emphasizes one or more design elements can become a focal point in itself, highlighting your plants best features and tying them in with the surrounding environment.

So with that said,Let’s have a look at some of the most important design elements to consider.

Indoor Plant Pot Design Elements

1. Scale

indoor plant pots with scale

Pots that play with scale and proportion can change the relationship between identical plants while matching containers of the same scale can unify a group of different plants.

2. Shape

Plant pot shapes

A pot’s shape can harmonize or contrast with your plant’s growing habit.

It can echo and accentuate the natural shape of the plant or contrast with it to create interest or drama.

3. Color & Pattern

stripey pattern on pot

Color and pattern on a pot can be used to highlight features in your plant. Stripes can echo stripes color can pick up on color highlighting what may have been a subtle accent on a plant

4. Texture

plant pot textures

The surface of your plant’s container can complement the texture of your plant’s foliage. Or directly contrast with it in order to play on the differences and the sensory interest of the display.

Generally speaking, the more striking the plant the plainer the pot should be.

A glossy dark leafed peace lily would look great in a gilt trimmed oriental pot, but a prayer plant with its vividly marked and veined leaves call for a simple single colored pot.

Choose pots that work well with your interior décor suit your personal taste and include drainage holes through which excess water can escape.

3 Plant Care Principles for Selecting Your Indoor Plant Pot

Keep 3 basic indoors plant care principles in mind when choosing your plant containers, they are; Size, drainage, and material.

Size: Good rule of thumb is to measure the plant from the soil line to the highest leaf. Divide this number by 3 and you have a good guide as to the ideal diameter of the pot measured in inches.

Another popular measure is to choose a pot that is about one- third as tall as the height of the plant. This usually works well but not always. For example, low-growing vining plants or small cacti will not require this much spaces.

So another size wise guide is to choose the smallest pot that will accommodate the roots of the plant.

There are two good reasons to go small with the pot; One is that small pots have a dwarfing effect on plant size which is usually desirable under indoor conditions.

Second, soil that is not being used to service the roots of the plant tend to hold excess moisture which encourage fungi to grow that results in root rot, the popular cause of demise for many a poor indoor plant.

The diameter of the top of the pot is usually the same as its depth.  However, some plants with shallow roots do better in a low squat container.

Containers that are narrow at the base often have a habit of toppling over when planted with taller plants but fine for smaller plants.

Heavy pots with attached drainage dishes are often ideal for larger top heavy plants.  If a tall plant insists on toppling over, then move to a square planter that sits solidly in place.

Christine’sTip: If interior décor is your priority buy the container first, and then decide on what plant would best suit.

Drainage

What ever their size or shape, plant pots must have drainage holes at their base to allow excess water to escape.

Several mid sized holes are better than one large hole. Keep the drainage holes clear with a skewer or pencil and watch out for roots appearing from the holes,

Unfortunately many beautiful brass, ceramic or hand thrown pottery containers do not include drainage holes.

Holes can be drilled into the bottom of plastic or fibre glass pots but don’t try this with fine ceramic or pottery.

Instead, use these as cachepots, the term used to describe the containers holding your container.

Place an inch of clean pebbles at the bottom of your cachepot, and set your plant in a container with drainage holes that will fit inside the drainless one.   

It’s common to use a cheaper, thin plastic one for the inside pot. Just make sure that any excess water does not collect to form a pool of water that would keep the plant’s roots wet.

This might occur if you accidentally over water your plant. In this case, be sure to drain off any excess water that pools up inside the cachepot. If you do this, then the double potting system should work well.

Christine’s Tip: Remember that surfaces like floors, tables  and window sills are not the only places to display your indoor plants. Hanging baskets give you the option of a different dimension all together.

Materials

When purchased, most plants are growing in plastic containers.  These plastic pots, although quite practical from a greenhouse grower’s perspective, are usually less than attractive.

Once a plant has had a few weeks to adjust to its new conditions in your home, it’s usually time to upgrade its pot.

Your typical options are better quality plastic, terra cotta clay, fibreglass/ fibre stone or ceramic.

Plastic pots

Come in a wide variety of colors and finishes and allow superior moisture retention.

Those with a dull matt finish, often have to be tapped with a finger to see if they are ceramic or plastic.

Many plastic pots have a snap on tray, which do a great job of capturing water that drip from the base of the pot. (an especially desirable feature for a hanging basket).

If you are looking for an unusual shape such as oblong box or a certain size of pedestal, ten you are most likely to find it in plastic. Another advantage of plastic pots for plants is that they are usually cheaper than clay or ceramic.

Here are some examples of plastic pots you can find on Amazon. Check them out!

Terra Cotta Clay Pots

It’s hard to go past the handsome looks of a health indoor plant sitting proudly in a clean clay pot set atop pebbles in a matching tray.

Earth toned clay pairs well with plants and in the interest of uniformity, some people only buy clay pots.

Because clay dries more quickly, clay is the preferred container material for plants that like periods of dryness between watering like bromeliads or and orchids.

If you find that your clay pot is drying out too quickly you can coat the inside of the pot with paraffin or latex paint.

Or you can shop for more expensive Italian clay pots ( stamped made in Italy) which are less porous that the less expensive Mexican clay pots and are usually a shade darker in color.

You can find theses beautiful terra cotta pots on Amazon;

Fiberglass Pots

Designed to look like fine clay or ceramic, fibreglass pots are usually the choice for more formal living rooms. Good quality fibreglass pots can cost more but when treated with care, can last a lifetime.

High quality pots of this type are often a mix of fibre glass and stone or clay and given descriptors such as ‘fibre stone’.

Being quite light, they are a great choice for indoor plants 

They come in a wide variety of shapes, sizes, colors and styles accommodating just about any plant, so it can take a while when deciding which one(s) to select for your home or office.

Check these ‘fibre stone’ & ‘fibre glass’ pots out on Amazon;

Glazed Ceramic Pots

These pots are usually chosen for smaller indoor plants and when treated with care, can outlive the plants they are partnered with, many times over.

Because of this, it can be a good idea to select ceramic pots that are versatile in terms of pairing with different plants. Neutral grays, whites and browns are easy to work with and do not compete for attention.  

Christine’s Tip: Clean your plant containers between uses. Scrub with plenty of hot soapy water, then soak for a while to remove any salt deposits around the rim.

Check out these popular ceramic pots on Amazon;

Final Thoughts

Like accessories that tie together your favorite outfit, plant containers add those all- important finishing touches to your indoor plant design.

But just like purchasing any accessory, you have to try to balance what’s right for you design and style wise, with important practicalities.

This is certainly the case when selecting indoor plant pots.

Not only does the pot need to suit the space you have selected for it, it must also suit the needs of the plant.

This includes important needs such as size and drainage, bearing in mind that different plants will have differing needs.

But the right choice of pot can accentuate both the plant it’s hosting and its environment, so do spend some time considering your investment.  

Quality indoor plant pots can last a long time, with a little care, so putting some time into their selection will definitely be worth it!

If you found this indoor plant pots article interesting then Pin it on Pinterest!

Christine Mattner

Christine Mattner

What started out as purely a desire to keep my indoor plants alive has turned into a full-blown passion for sharing what I have learned over the years about selecting, growing and caring for indoor plants with those who may be new to the wonderful world of houseplants.

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