shrubs in terracottapots

How to Choose the Right Container for Your Plants

You are ready to start container gardening but, you need the perfect container for your plant! Which one do you select? Are you going for functionality or design? or both? Ideally, you want to select the container that is the correct size for your plant first. Then you will look at container options available and choose the right container for your plants. Containers come in so many shapes, colors, and designs. It is very easy to select the wrong size and type of container for your plant. Size, material, functionality, design, and durability are crucial factors when picking out containers for your garden space.

Determine the Appropriate Size for Your Plants

When selecting the right containers for your plants, size matters. The size of the plant and the size of the container should be takin into serious consideration. Don't just select a container that your plant fits in now, think about what the mature plant will look like. How much will it grow? How big is the root system going to be? Does the container have proper drainage holes? These are factors you should think about for container selection.

example of a pot bound plant, the container was too small

Louis Marchesseault

This is an example of a pot bound plant. The container was too small. BE careful when choosing the right size containers.

Choosing between small, medium, and large containers

The struggle is real when selecting containers, and you can definitely overthink this crucial process. However, when looking at containers for your plants, we can group them very loosely into categories of small, medium, and large containers. Small containers are perfect for compact plants with shallow root systems, such as herbs, small annual flowers, and smaller succulents and shrubs. Medium containers are used for plants with moderate root systems like perennials and some smaller vegetable plants. Larger containers are more suited for small fruit trees, tomatoes, or climbers like cucumbers and beans. Do some research on the plants you are growing and focus on the mature end of their growth like size of root system and their size as they grow.  Take into account the growth rate of your plant to help gauge how much space it will need over time.

Material Options

There are literally tons of options when considering the material a plant container is made of. Let's look at a few options:


The classic terracotta pots are quite popular among gardening enthusiasts. They have such a natural and rustic appeal that adds a touch of charm to any garden space. The cool thing about these pots is that they let the roots breathe. But here's the catch: since they're porous, they can make the soil dry out faster, so you might need to water your plants more often. Oh, and they can be a bit heavy too, so you might want to consider insulating them during those crazy hot or freezing cold days. But hey, they're totally worth it if you're into that rustic vibe!

Marcie Pratt/ Small shrubs in terra cotta pots


Plastic containers, you know, those lightweight ones that won't break the bank, are super popular in gardening circles. The cool thing about them is that they come in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors, and cool designs, so you can find the perfect fit for your plants. They are usually lightweight and can be moved around if needed. One of their neatest features is that they're really good at holding onto moisture, so your plants won't get thirsty too quickly. Plus, they're great at insulating, which means they can help keep the temperature just right for your green buddies. But here's the thing: they might not be as breathable as some other materials. So, if you have plants that need a lot of fresh air to their roots, you might want to explore other container options. But hey, plastic containers are still awesome because they're affordable, versatile, mobile, and can accommodate a wide range of gardening needs.



Bring a touch of natural beauty to your garden with wooden containers. These charming vessels exude a rustic appeal, adding a warm and inviting atmosphere to your outdoor space. Besides their aesthetic value, wooden containers offer excellent insulation properties, allowing for better temperature regulation. However, it's important to keep in mind that wood requires regular maintenance to prevent rot and deterioration. Applying a sealant or stain can help extend the lifespan of the containers, ensuring they remain sturdy and durable for years to come.

large containers with wire so plants can grow up

Becky House/Large containers made from plastic drums make excellent containers, just remember to drill drainage holes


Ceramic containers are like little individual works of art for your garden. They add an exquisite beauty that adds a touch of art and durability to your outdoor space. These vessels come in various designs and vibrant colors, turning your humble green oasis into a living masterpiece. But here's something to keep in mind – they can be a bit heavy and fragile. When selecting a ceramic container, consider the amount of drainage it will provide. With a little care and attention, these timeless companions will accentuate the splendor of nature in your gardening space.

For a container like above, a drainage system can be put in the bottom using small to medium sized rocks, then adding soil.

Grow Bags

Yes! Let's grow plants in a bag! Grow bags have been very popular this year. Growbags are usually made of a breathable fabric. The breathable fabric is very porous and perfect absorbing moisture and preventing overwatering, root rot and waterlogged soil. I have a few fabric bags in my garden. This is my first year using them and they are pretty cool. If we need to trim around the bags, they have handles so you can easily move them around. There is a wide range of plants suitable for the grow bags because they come in so many different shapes and sizes.

Lemongrass in a fabric growbag

Lemongrass in a fabric growbag. Just behind it are jalapeno plants in a plastic grow bag.

The key lies in selecting the container material that best suits your plant's needs, while also considering factors like functionality, design, and durability. Take the time to research your plants' growth patterns. Make sure the plants have enough space to flourish. With the right container, your garden will thrive, becoming a testament to your green thumb and creating a captivating sanctuary of natural beauty.

Would you like some help choosing the perfect container? Join us in my Facebook Group, Beginner Gardeners Start Here.

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