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Container Gardening: Choosing the Perfect Container

Updated on October 21, 2019
Faith Reaper profile image

Theresa finds joy and beauty in gardening. She feels closer to the Lord God when digging her hands into His earth.

Container Gardening and the Joy it Brings!

One of my granddaughters who had just picked a tiny flower from the planter behind her. She is so focused on that tiny flower, her eyes are crossed, and seeing her reaction makes me smile. Her sister had just cut off all of her lovely curls!!!
One of my granddaughters who had just picked a tiny flower from the planter behind her. She is so focused on that tiny flower, her eyes are crossed, and seeing her reaction makes me smile. Her sister had just cut off all of her lovely curls!!! | Source

Spring is right around the corner and before you begin all of that planting, you must have the proper containers in which do to your planting! There are so many choices out there for containers that it can be a bit overwhelming. However, if you start with a quality pot with a look you really love, then you cannot go wrong no matter what you plant in it.

Good quality, well-cared-for-pots will be with you for the long haul.

Personally, I love using a variety of containers of different finishes and materials, shapes and sizes. Doing so, adds much more interest, I believe.

Cement Container

Concrete container
Concrete container | Source

Many Options

In determining a container, there are many options one must take into consideration which will affect which container will work best for you, such as the price, the look and the function. It is a combination of all three of these options that you must take into consideration for your specific needs.

Terra Cotta Container

Terra Cotta container
Terra Cotta container | Source

Finishes and Materials

Once you have determined where you would like to place your container, it is very important to consider the finishes and materials of your container before planting.

There are many finishes and materials from which to choose. The following may be helpful in your decision as to the finishes and materials of your containers the next time you use containers for gardening.

Concrete Container

Black concrete container embossed with grapes and filled with Snap Dragons.
Black concrete container embossed with grapes and filled with Snap Dragons. | Source

PROS: Sturdy, heavy, won’t topple.

CONS: Difficult to lift; limited colors and finishes.


Here, I found two of these black painted concrete embossed planters at a yard sale for $7.00 each. That is a very good deal, believe me! It took two very strong men, who were well over six feet tall to lift each one into the trunk of my car.

Once you decide on a place for concrete planters, you better make it a permanent decision, as these are not easily moved! Unfortunately, we had a winter storm here in the deep south a couple of weeks ago, where snow and ice covered the ground for three days, so my beautiful, purple cabbage flowers and some pansies did not survive. We were not expecting the snow and ice to be in our area and stay for that long. The weather man was wrong!

Anyway, I love these concrete planters, especially in black as they are classic and traditional. Just my style!

The other one on the other side of my brick wall driveway is about covered in ivy and one can barely see the container, which I need to remedy.

Fiberglass Container (This One Has about Served its Purpose over the Years!)

Black fiberglass container.  I love the color, style and shape of this particular container.
Black fiberglass container. I love the color, style and shape of this particular container. | Source

PROS: Lightweight, affordable, freeze-resistant.

CONS: More prone to toppling in the wind due to light weight.

Fiberglass / Plastic

In the photo above, I have a lovely fiberglass container that I normally fill with a Bougainvillea plant during the summer. This poor planter has been through the wringer after many storms. I love the shape and style of this container, so classic. Plus, I love the black color; also classic and traditional.

I placed it on this square column on my driveway brick wall. It is the perfect spot to place a lovely container. However, the strong wind we get coming from around the back of the pastures behind my house that whip around to the front of my house have toppled this container on several occasions. The last time the container toppled onto the ground, it was broken and cracked. I am so disappointed but I can easily replace it. However, such is to be expected with these lightweight containers, as the wind will topple them and they are apt to crack and break apart, just as this one did here. See photo below.

These Containers Can Topple and Easily Be Broken

Broken Fiberglass Container.
Broken Fiberglass Container. | Source

Different Style of Plastic Container

Also seen in the photo below, I have placed a plastic container near my front door. It is lightweight and durable, which I love, as it is easy to move about. It is more out of the way from the wind and such; however, this type of container is very durable and I believe it would not break or crack as the container above did if it were to topple over.

Another Style of Plastic Container

Plastic container near my front door.
Plastic container near my front door. | Source

Wood Container

Wood container near the graves of two of my pets.
Wood container near the graves of two of my pets. | Source

PROS: Organic look; relatively lightweight.

CONS: Eventually might rot; might need refinishing.


I have placed this particular wood planter in one corner of my back yard where two of my beloved pets are buried, Cookie and Kitty. Cookie was a Jack Russell Terrier and was killed last year. Kitty was a gray-striped cat we had for over 17 years. She had a good life. She did not want to make the move to the small town / country life though.

I have placed this planter near the two stone markers that mark their graves. The wood bottom could easily start to rot from moisture from the ground after it rains. I will need to place a flat piece of stone or concrete underneath the wood planter to prevent future decay.

Terra-Cotta Container

Terra-Cotta container with Angel Vine planted in it.
Terra-Cotta container with Angel Vine planted in it. | Source

PROS: Classic look, inexpensive.

CONS: Gets mineral deposits; inexpensive terra-cotta usually not freeze-resistant.


In this simple terra-cotta planter or clay pot, I placed Angel Vine, which is so sweet to me, and I placed a red wire heart in it to wrap the vines around as they grow, such as a topiary.

I just placed a saucer underneath it to grab the water, so as to not damage the distressed sideboard. Although the sideboard is distressed, I do not want it to have water damage.

It is not recommended to place clay pots outside as they may crack during freezing weather. However, I made a birdbath out of clay pots, and during the deep freeze a couple of weeks ago, it has not one crack in it! What may have saved the clay pot birdbath is that it is covered in Mosaic tiles and painted, or either the clay pots may have not been the very inexpensive kind that will surely crack during a freeze.

Glazed-Clay Container

Glazed-clay pot with Blue Hyacinth.
Glazed-clay pot with Blue Hyacinth. | Source

PROS: Heavy, won’t topple easily; no mineral stains.

CONS: Heavy to lift; relatively expensive.


This glazed ceramic container is heavy and will not topple over, which is great. However, if you happen to drop it, it will crack into pieces. These do not come with drain holes, so I just added one of those plastic drainers to help with the drainage. I planted Blue Hyacinth in this container, which are so beautiful and very fragrant to place on a table on my deck.

Tips for the Perfect Planted Pot

For the perfect planted pot, it must have the following:

  • Quality soil
  • Good drainage
  • Not too heavy
  • Placed on a good surface

If you follow the following tips, you cannot go wrong with the care of your gardening containers.

Using Quality Soil

Loose, peat-based potting soil is the standard for containers---it is light and well-aerated, and it drains perfectly. Never use garden soil or old potting soil. (Amending garden beds with used potting soil is a great way to get rid of it.)

Allowing Drainage

An outdoor planter must have a drain hole. If not, create one with an appropriate drill bit. A filter pad at the bottom of the pot will keep soil from escaping.

Have you ever heard of pot feet? Yes, they are feet of clay to place under your pot that is placed on a wood surface such as a deck. The clay feet help to keep wood surfaces drier and reduce rot. In addition to being functional, they are decorative!

Protecting the Surface

A saucer will catch drain water where you need surfaces to stay dry. Pot feet are an alternative that allows you easily clean under planters.

Packing Pearls

Placing Packing Pearls in the bottom of a pot is an easy-to-use filler that reduces weight.

Reducing Weight

Use a lightweight filler in the bottoms of large pots to reduce the amount of potting soil you need to buy, and to lower the weight of planted containers. A layer of landscape fabric keeps soil separate from the filler below.

You Can See What the Packing Pearls Look Like in This Video

Well, it is time to get out there and start filling up those perfectly chosen containers with beautiful flowers and plants. Vegetables are great too. Enjoy! It is almost Spring!

© Copyright Faith Reaper, February 27, 2014


What is your favorite gardening container to use?

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