Container gardening has become all the rage in the last few years, and no wonder – you don’t need a lot of space to make an impressive display, it instantly adds life and color to your windows, porch, patio, or deck, and it lets you change the scenery several times through the gardening season. And in addition to the extra convenience, gardening in containers gives you greater control over insect pests fertilizing and soil quality. You can also start your plants earlier and grow later into the season since it's so easy to cover containers in the event of a frost. Plus, it’s fun!
With so many different kinds of containers available, which ones will work best for you? Pots, window boxes and plant containers come in many materials. Plastic, wood, metal, stone, concrete and clay are all great options. But before you buy, make sure you consider your needs as well as your tastes. Here are some of the different types of containers for container gardening and their advantages:
Stone, Concrete and Clay Containers
For sheer drama and impact, it's hard to beat a truly immense classic stone or terra cotta planter overflowing with a half-dozen different kinds of plants. But keep in mind that hauling stone, concrete or clay pots around can be a huge undertaking. Once filled with soil and plants and watered, these large pots can weigh well in excess of 100 lb. Of course, if you're certain the pot is going to live in one spot, then weight is less of a consideration, but it's nice to have the flexibility of being able to move a container to another spot where it’s perhaps better suited.
Faux Stone, Faux Terra cotta and Faux Concrete Containers
Faux stone, terra cotta, and concrete planters have really improved in the last year or two, while prices have come down as well. The wonderful thing about these planters is that they couple that traditional look with the advantages of being lightweight and largely weatherproof—they can even be left outside over the winter. Do that with a genuine terra cotta pot in the North, and you'll be heartbroken come spring when you find your pot in shards.
Wood and Metal Garden Containers
Because they're light and relatively weatherproof, wooden and metal planters are both attractive options as well. If you’re inclined to choose a wooden planter, make sure it's made of a rot-resistant wood like redwood or cedar because a planter made of pine or other rot-prone wood won’t last long with its inside in constant contact with moist soil. If you choose a metal container, be aware that, if it's painted, the paint is likely to peel eventually. That's not necessarily a problem—it could even be considered an advantage if you like that worn, antiqued look—but if you prefer a neat, clean appearance, choose galvanized or stainless steel rather than metal with a painted finish.
Yes, we said fabric. A secret of commercial tree growers for years, fabric planters allow the soil inside to breathe, promoting the strong root growth that’s ideal for container-grown vegetables. With a few fabric containers conveniently situated on your deck or patio, you can enjoy ultra-fresh greens, herbs or tomatoes just steps away from your kitchen!
A big challenge to container gardeners is keeping up with watering. Sub-irrigation or self-watering containers help to ensure that your plants receive an even supply of water, so you don’t have to worry about watering every day (a great advantage if you’re planning a short summer getaway!). These planters have a built-in water reservoir that the soil can draw on as it dries out. They also come in a wide variety of styles, including patio and deck planters, window box planters, and even deck railing planters.
Shop All Self Watering Planters
The steady water supply offered by self-watering containers makes them perfect for growing vegetables. They also stimulate strong downward root growth toward the water source, so you can grow tomatoes and peppers in even large containers using a stake or cage for support.