Planters 101: The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Right Planter for Your Plants

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Whether you are a new or old plant parent, it’s probably time to think about the importance of pots. When you bring home a new plant, it is typically planted in a plastic nursery pot. Since these are lightweight and durable, these plastic pots are great for plants that need to be moved around in the greenhouse or store. But once you bring a plant into your home, it’s time to look for something a little more permanent.

plant shop

So you go to your favorite local shop and check out the planter aisle. What do you see? An abundance of materials, shapes, and sizes to choose from. Sometimes, we find a cute planter that we just have to have, but it isn’t necessarily a great fit for our plant. Rather than trying to squeeze a plant into that super cool new pot, or completely dwarf your new plant in a huge planter, it’s key to be mindful about how to pot your plants.

This guide has everything you need to know about choosing the right planter for your plant, from terracotta to plastic, drainage holes, or no drainage holes; you will be a master potter in no time!

Repot Regularly


Plants need to be repotted regularly; it’s just a fact of plant parenthood. If you’re not okay with getting a little dirty, houseplants probably aren’t the hobby for you. Every so often, you are going to have to play with some dirt.

Repotting gives your plant new soil nutrients and more room for its roots to grow. Depending on the type of plants you have, you will most likely be repotting your babies in spring at the start of the growing season.

Many plants do not enjoy being root-bound, so giving them new space to grow is essential. Always provide your plant with fresh soil when you repot it, and make sure to check the roots. Repotting is a great time to make sure your roots have been thriving.

Giving your plants new soil is the foundation for successful growing. Your plant will only be as healthy as the potting mix it is planted in, so remember to repot regularly and thoughtfully.

Size is Important

Hand-painted Planters

When you are moving a plant into a new pot, size is important! You don’t want to upsize a plant pot too much, and likewise, you don’t want to downsize a planter either. A good rule of thumb is to choose a pot no more than 2-3 inches larger than the diameter of your current pot.

If you put a plant in a pot that is too big, it will stay too wet. The soil will have too much water for the small rootball to absorb, no matter how hard it tries. So even though that big planter would be PERFECT for that baby plant, be patient! The right size planter is so important for the health of your plant.

Using the wrong size planter is like wearing the wrong size shoes. Your plant is simply going to be uncomfortable. So when you are picking out pots for your plants, make sure to pay attention to the size.

Don’t Forget Drainage!

Pots with drainage

Drainage holes are super important when you are looking for a new pot for your plants. When you water your plants, excess nutrients and salts wash through the root ball. As a result, that liquid needs to drain away from the plant. If your pot does not have drainage, your plant is likely soaking up that excess liquid.

Drainage holes can also help with watering. I know when I first got into plants, I was overwatering and underwatering like crazy. Figuring out the right amount of water to give your plants takes time and practice. A drainage hole in your pot helps prevent root rot resulting from your plants sitting in too much moisture.

Although it’s certainly possible to have healthy plants in pots without drainage holes, those typically require a little more finesse. When you plant a plant directly in a pot with no drainage, you usually use a mixture of gravel on the bottom of the pot to give the water somewhere to go. You also need to be a lot more careful with how much water you are giving your plant! When shopping for a new planter, play it safe and go for one with a drainage hole.



If you love the look of a pot that doesn’t have drainage, you can always use it as a cachepot! Cachepots are my favorite way to display plants in my home. I like to reuse plastic nursery pots and put them inside pots without drainage.

That way, I get the best of both worlds. When I water the plant, it can drain, and I benefit from those super cute ornate pots that typically don’t have holes. Plus, it lets you switch up plants and planters a lot more than if they were planted directly in the pot!

If you want the flexibility of changing up the look of your planters, cachepots are a great option.


Ceramic pots

The material of the pots is also essential. Whether you choose terracotta, glazed ceramic, or plastic, will affect how you water and care for your plants. For example, terracotta pots are a great beginner option because it is tough to overwater with them.

Terracotta is porous, so it sucks the water out of the soil. Usually, with terracotta planters, you end up having to water more often. This is why it’s such an excellent option for those of us who tend to overwater our babies.

That’s why you often see terracotta pots with a whiteish powder on their outer surface. This is excess salts being pulled from the rootball of the plant. Although you can just wipe this off, it’s totally safe to keep this unique look on the planter for a more rustic style.

Glazed ceramics and plastic pots retain much more moisture. You will want to be more mindful with your watering if you choose these materials since your plants will stay wetter longer. A simple rule is just to stick your finger in the soil. If it feels dry, water it; if it feels moist, leave it be!

When to Repot

Repotting houseplants

If your plant has roots busting out of the pot's drainage hole, it’s likely time to repot it. Likewise, if your plant hasn’t shown any new growth for quite some time, you should probably take it out and inspect its roots. This is usually a sign of a plant being root-bound or rotted.

Repotting your plants should be exciting rather than stressful. It’s a great time to bond with your plants and check on new growth.

Remember to take your time and not rush through the process. At the end of the day, we want our plants to be happy because they make us happy. So let’s set them up for success with the perfect pot and soil mix.

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