The Q&A Archives: Container Plants

Question: Does it matter what type of containers are used? Because there are plastic, glass, clay, etc.
Should they all be the same? This is for a new garden West facing, in Southern California.

Answer: Each container type has its advantages and disadvantages, and the types of plants you choose may do better in one type than another. Here are the basics. Plastic containers are fine for most any plant but plastic can dry up and break down after 2-3 years in hot sunshine. So, if you're planting in a partly shady area, plastic will be fine; if it's a sunny area, plan on replacing the pots every 3 years or so. Glass containers (ceramic) can overheat if they're in direct summer sun, and they can shatter if dropped. Terra cotta (clay) pots tend to wick water away from the soil and out through the porous sides. This will keep the roots drier - a good thing if you're growing succulents, not so good if you're growing ferns. Terra cotta can also develop white residue (salt build up) and / or green mold. Some gardeners think this adds to the character of the pots - others find it unsightly. The bottom line is - use what appeals to you, make sure the pots have adequate drainage holes, and monitor the soil moisture for a few weeks until you get a feel for how often they'll need watering.

I would use a mixture of different pots and different sizes just to add a little interest to the garden. You might even want to try a few of each type pot to see which work best in your own garden situation.

Best wishes with your garden!

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