How to Choose the Best Pots for Houseplants

 How to Choose the Best Pots for Houseplants

Best Pots for Indoor Plants

Many factors affect what type of container is best for a houseplant. I notice:

plant size
plant type
container weight
Container drain
container style
Total cost

Bring a new houseplant into the house

When bringing home a new plant, it's best to leave it in the nursery pot for a week or two. Let's face it, plants aren't designed for movement. In nature, they stay in one place all their lives. They react to any change, and a change in the environment is very stressful. Allow the plant to adjust to the new digging before subjecting it to digging pressure again. However, if the plant is root bound or roots are sticking out from the bottom of the pot, go ahead and reinsert it.

Make sure to place the plant on a saucer so that the water does not drip onto the furniture or floor. Plastic or ceramic dishes work best. Terracotta plant saucers may be cute, but they add dampness to furniture. I always have a few old junk saucers or candy dishes in the basement just waiting for a new plant. Some people suggest that if you water the plant over a sink and let the water drip, it won't need a saucer. However, the soil is still wet, and this moisture can ruin the wood.

You can also put an ugly nursery pot in a temporary storage pot. This is one of the planters you see that doesn't have drainage holes in the bottom. If you do, remove the plant from the money pot and water it over the sink until the water drains from the bottom. Don't let the water sit in the bottom of the temporary pot, as this can quickly grow root-killing bacteria. And the high heavens will stink.

Container size

The plant should be planted in a pot smaller than the size of the plant. If you consider the houseplant and the pot as a whole, the container should take up one third of the total volume, and the plant should take up the other two thirds. Not only does it look great in design because of the rule of thirds, but it's also healthy for the plant. If there is a lot of soil around the roots, the soil will hold more moisture than the roots.

Of course, this rule is not written in stone. I have a long Dresna margin where these ratios won't work at all. Thin stems and delicate leaves will look ridiculous in an overly large pot.

Once the plant is out of its container, repot it in a pot that is 1 1/2 - 2 inches larger. You can tell it's time to fill when you see the roots coming out of the drainage hole. Repeat if the water runs quickly through the right side of the ground or if the soil shrinks. They grow to larger sizes only when the roots become crowded.

Before repotting a plant, read up on the type of plant you want to repot. Some houseplants, including spider plants, peace lilies, some orchids, and others thrive when partially rooted. Other plants, such as Oncidium orchids, have delicate roots and need to be handled with care.

When refilling, clean the new bowl thoroughly. Even if you use the same container, clean it with soap and water. White spots often appear on the outside of terracotta pots. It is the accumulation of salts used in fertilizers. A small scrub brush will help remove it.


The biggest killer of houseplants is over-watering. So you want to make sure that any excess water drains away from the roots. Make sure your containers have holes in the bottom. Many of the attractive containers these days do not have holes! Some people claim by putting some stones in the bottom, you don't need drainage holes. It's bunk! Excess water will collect under the rocks and freeze.

Placing rocks or shards of pottery in the bottom of the plant pot helps with drainage and helps weight the pot so it doesn't tip over. Just make sure the holes are even.

You can turn all sorts of things into plant pots - a money pot, a teapot, a mug, a standing bowl, a bean bowl, a sugar bowl, a creamer, etc. Ceramic drills are inexpensive and easy to use. Simply turn the empty container upside down, spray a little water on the spot where you want to make a hole, and make a hole. If you are using a piece of enamelware, you can drill the holes with a hammer and screwdriver.

If you think the hole in the pot is too big, place a piece of beading or burlap over the hole before adding the rocks and soil.

An old earthenware pot makes a huge heavy bowl when a hole is drilled into it. Use your imagination. If you need a larger dish, you can look for a round tray or casserole dish - much better than the ugly plastic trays they sell at big box stores.

Types of Container Materials

Thanks to the popularity of houseplants and container plants, many plant containers are available. Here are some things to consider:

Plastic or Fiberglass

These work well if you need a large pot for a large plant. Ceramics can be very heavy. If you are using a plastic container that is not too wide, make sure to put the rocks in the bottom. Plastic and fiberglass are so light that they can break easily. There are some very nice plastic pots out there, especially the larger versions. Be careful not to over water as the fiberglass and plastic retain moisture.

Terra Cotta

Terra cotta is classic, simple, and relatively inexpensive. Personally, I love plain old terra cotta pots, although there are some more interesting versions available. Of course, interesting people will be more expensive. I wanted something a little more interesting for the pot shown above. I had some medium crackles on my hands and I love the rustic look.

Terra cotta pots dry more quickly than plastic, fiberglass, or ceramic and may require more frequent watering. It is also more prone to breakage than other materials. (Don't forget to save these broken pieces to use at the bottom of other pots!)


Ceramic is heavy enough to hold a large plant and heavier than a drop. Ceramic is also very attractive and durable. It comes in many colors and designs, from smooth and sleek for a modern look to timeless masterpieces. Ceramic cookware prices vary widely, so shop around.


It is lightweight and attractive. Enamelware plant pots are widely available but do not always have drainage holes. Drill holes in the bottom with a hammer and screwdriver. You can probably find some good enamelware at a thrift store. Old rusty enamelware also looks good.


Wood is commonly used for outdoor enclosures. It can work great as a temporary storage container since it breaks down easily. Wooden baskets are often used for orchids and other plants.

Containers for orchids and other Epiphytes

Some popular houseplants called epiphytes cannot be planted in soil. They require a special medium that allows air to circulate. The mixtures include bark chips, perlite, sphagnum moss, terra cotta balls (LECA) etc. For example, moth orchids (Phalaenopsis), which are widely available in grocery stores and supermarkets, should be kept in special containers. Made of plastic, these pots have holes to increase drainage and airflow. This is where the cash pot comes in handy. Place the perforated pot inside the temporary storage pot. Pour water over the basin.

If you want to avoid plastic, some ceramic orchid pots have decorative holes in the side. The problem with these types of pots is that roots can grow out of the holes. In this case, repotting can lead to root rot.

Some people grow orchids and other vegetable plants in wooden baskets that can be hung from brackets. Wide spaces allow air circulation. They are available online and in specialty stores.

Container Alternatives

Some orchids, as well as ferns and elkhorn ferns, can be grown on a piece of wood. For this type of project, the bark usually stays on the wood. Simply line the wood with slightly damp moss, place the bare root plant on the moss and cover it with more moss. Tie the moss and plant to the bark using jute or fishing line and hang.

Kokidama is a method of growing plants without a pot. The bare plant roots are carefully rolled into a ball of soil or orchid medium, surrounded by leaf moss and wrapped around with bandage or other natural twine. Then the plant is suspended. If you use fishing line to suspend the plant, it can appear to float in the air! This is a great way to display your plants if things are getting a little crowded. Water the plants by submerging them in water and letting them dry before hanging.

Plants grown without containers will need frequent watering. Without a pot, it can dry quickly. Many people often need to be wrong.

Air plants do not use soil. You can lay them on the moss or get really creative with the display as long as you wash them daily. Tuck them into shells, cork, scraps of wood, driftwood, coils of wire, or those little glass balls where you find air plants sold.

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