Containers and Planters-Pros and Cons of Materials

These are some pros and cons of choosing the right type of container or planter for your plants. The type of container you select depends on the style of your garden, and your preference for certain materials. Each type of container planter will have its own advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a look at containers made of, wood, synthetic, stone, and metal types of containers and evaluate the pros and cons of each type of material. This will help you choose the container planters that will be best for your project.

Size Matters

The roots of container plants are more, or less, vulnerable to drying out or getting too hot or too cold, depending on the size of the pot, as well as the material it is made from. Vigorous plants in small containers quickly become root-bound and require more frequent watering and fertilizing. Taller specimens may become top-heavy and unstable if the container is too small, or the base isn’t wide enough. Containers and planters make excellent vessels for growing roses and annuals. They can be placed on decks and patios or at entrance ways.

"Terra cotta Containers and Planters"

Terra Cotta Containers and Planters

Clay Containers and Planters

Pros- Clay is porous and therefore helping to keep soil drained and aerated, terra-cotta is ideal for growing alpines, succulents, tender perennials, and shrubs that dislike winter rain. The surface weathers and develops an interesting patina over time.

Cons- Terra-cotta chips and cracks easily and is susceptible to frost damage, as are any ornate decorations. Empty any pots that are not frostproof and store under cover in the fall. Clay is a poor root insulator, so pots may need wrapping if they are left in their original place during the winter.

Wood Containers and Planters

A natural material, wood works well in wildlife gardens, cottage-style gardens, and against wood siding and stone buildings. Recycled oak barrels and half-barrels, as well as softwood reproductions, are readily available. Stained or painted planters also suit formal gardens.

"Wood Containers"

Wood Containers

Pros- Large wooden barrels accommodate the root systems of small trees, tall bamboos, and large evergreen shrubs. Oak is naturally rot-resistant. Thick-sided barrels and planters insulate roots, protecting them from frost.

Cons- The metal bands on barrels slip if the wood dries out completely. Wood eventually rots, so planters must be seated inside (painted with epoxy) or lined with heavy plastic sheeting. Painted or varnished planters need regular retouching.

Synthetic Containers and Planters

Plastic, resin, or fiberglass materials can now be made into remarkably convincing lightweight replicas of ornate stoneware, terra-cotta, lead, and even Versailles planters. Often, but not always, these reproductions are cheaper than the originals and, once planted, it’s almot impossible to tell them apart.

Pros- Synthetic containers are extremely light. You can buy giant terra-cotta pots or stonework urns and lift them with ease. There’s no need to apply any protective coating, they don’t chip, and they are relatively good root insulators.

Cons- You may have to make drainage holes in the base and add stones or bricks to weigh pots down. Bright plastic “terra-cotta” might need a coat of acrylic paint to artificially weather the surface, an cheaper plastic pots become brittle and fade in full sun.

"Stone Containers and Planters"

Stone Containers and Planters

Stone Containers and Planters

Classical designs are perfect for formal or period gardens, but antique carved stone and cast stonework reproductions are expensive. Modern designs in terrazzo, a reconstituted stone with a smooth veneer, are increasingly popular. Alpine enthusiasts can buy rough-hewn troughs.

Pros- Stone has a weight and permanence that suits outdoor settings well and, unlike plastic and resin reproductions, pots and planters won’t blow over in windy gardens. The thick walls of stone planters insulate roots from cold and keep potting mix moist.

Cons- New stonework looks raw at first. You can try your hand at painting it with a commercial aging solution. As stone is very heavy, you should take care when lifting containers and avoid using unstable or top-heavy planters where children play. Reconstituted stone chips to reveal an ugly interior.

"Metal Containers and Planters"

Metal Containers and Planters

Metal Containers and Planters

Contemporary gardens often feature simple pots made from galvanized zinc and aluminum, or stainless steel. They may be brightly colored or treated to resemble copper, bronze, or rusting iron. Salvaged coppers and antique lead cisterns suit older properties very well.

Pros- Modern metal containers are incredibly lightweight. They come in a range of sculptural shapes, which are not available in other materials, and contemporary color finishes that suit new ideas. The reflective quality of silvery pots makes them ideal for lightening shady areas.

Cons- Some containers don’t have drainage holes and need drilling. Watch out for sharp edges when handling. Check surface coatings regularly for rust spots. Insulate containers, to prevent plant roots from getting too hot in summer and too cold in winter.

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