How To Choose The Right Pot For Your Plant

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There are a lot of different kinds of pots out there. The majority encompass terracotta, ceramic, and plastic pots. There are cement pots out there as well but we are not going to be discussing them today. We are going to focus primarily on the terracotta, ceramic, and plastic pots just because they are the most widely used and readily available. They are what you are most likely going to be using on a regular basis.



Terracotta is a clay-based pot that is baked and hardened. It has moisture retentive properties and what that means is it has little pores and air pockets inside the clay and it will actually wick away moisture from the potting media.

 This is really helpful because it can be used in a number of different ways. You can use it to help your plants dry out faster. This makes these pots great for plants like Peperomia and Begonia. Thin fine rooted plants that might easily rot in other types of pots. This is also really great for succulents and cacti. Terracotta can also warm up and retain some of the local heat from the sun or heaters and help keep the plants on the warmer side which is really great for those heat-loving plants.

Another thing that is great about their wicking properties is that it makes it much more difficult to overwater a plant in terracotta regardless of the substrate you use. This makes it a great option for beginner plant parents who may not know or understand the watering needs of their plants.

There are a few negatives with this type of pot though. The first of which is the fact that it does wick away moisture so fast. In some cases, it is too fast. So if you don’t want to water your plant in this pot all the time (sometimes up to twice a day) your plant will suffer unless it is some type of succulent or cacti.

Another problem with the pots is because they wick away the moisture they will wick it right into whatever they are sitting on. Even if you are using a terracotta saucer it will still wick onto whatever is underneath. So you want to make sure you have some type of plastic or glass between the terracotta and the surface you want to protect or some type of waterproof sealant on your furniture. Terracotta is especially good for outside because of these properties though and it will drain really well.



There are glazed and unglazed ceramic pots. Unglazed behaves much like the terracotta pots previously mentioned. Glazed pots however are clay-based pots that have a coating put on them and then are baked and hardened. This makes the entire pot waterproof. It will hold onto that moisture. It will not wick away that moisture. You can get these pots with holes in the bottom for good drainage or without holes at all to use as decorative cache pots.

These pots will hold onto a lot of moisture so when choosing plants for these pots think of plants that love a lot of moisture around their roots. Plants like Calathea, Fittonia, Alocasia Anthurium, and Ferns. These are the type of plants that love to stay moist and have a moisture retentive pot.

 Also if you are the type of plant parent to rarely water your plants (also known as a more underwater) these pots will be very helpful. Because they hold on to moisture for so much longer you will be able to go longer in between watering and not have to constantly be worried about watering your plants. These are also great if you travel or go on vacation quite a bit and need to leave your plants.

The biggest issue with these pots is if you are a person who constantly waters your plants the roots will constantly stay wet in these pots and are more likely to rot because they do need so much time to dry out.



Plastic pots come in a variety of shapes and sizes. They tend to not come in as many shapes or color varieties as the ceramic pots but they do hold on to moisture in a similar manner.

Plastic pots do tend to have better drainage than a ceramic pot though. The majority of ceramic pots will only have one drainage hole if they come with drainage at all. With plastic pots, you can get a variety of drainage styles.

You can get orchid pots with slits up the sides of the pot and holes in the bottom allowing for fantastic airflow, especially for epiphytic plants like Hoya and Orchids. You can also get plastic nursery-style pots with a lot of holes in just the bottom or cache pots without drainage that you can drill holes in and create your own drainage easily or create a water reservoir depending on your plant’s needs plant care style.

Nursery pots are smaller and have a lot of drainage on the bottom but they are still very moisture retentive. These are great for soil propagation or seed starting. Because these pots hold on to moisture so well they will create humidity around the root base encouraging root growth.

As the plant grows though if you have a tendency to overwater this is not going to be a good long-term choice. You may have to change types of pots, increase drainage, change your watering habits or amend the substrate to be less moisture-retentive and more well-draining in order to prevent rot.

There are pots for every style of plant care and knowing which plants to put in what pot in combination with your unique plant care habits is one of the best skills to have when trying to keep your plants healthy.

Published at Sat, 21 May 2022 05:38:54 -0700

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