Selecting a Container for your plant

When you’re starting out, it seems like any pot/container will do for a plant. Just find something that is attractive and large enough to hold your plant. While this works to a degree, it’s not going to allow your plant to thrive to its full potential. Honestly, a bad container selection could ultimately kill your plant.

Today, we will look a variety of options and will talk about the pros/cons of each container. This will give you a general understanding of the materials/features of containers to hopefully help you next time you try finding a container for your beloved friends.


First consideration you should make is the drainage options that is available for the container. You’ve probably have been given this direction from numerous plant lovers, but the thing I never got when first getting into plants is the “why”.

Most plant life needs the ability to essentially breathe from the roots. The gist of the process is that a plant uses oxygen in order to consume nutrients in the soil. In the same way our body parts would die without oxygen, plants have a similar dilemma.

So why does this all matter? When soil becomes waterlogged, it fills the crevices in the soil with water removing the oxygen from the roots. Once your soil becomes waterlogged, your plant no longer can process nutrients which will lead to several issues:

  • Stunted growth.
  • Root Rot
  • Death if soil continues to be waterlogged for extended periods (the length of time depends on the plant species, but suffice to say it’s not long)

However, if you have good drainage then it’ll become much more difficult for this to occur. Which then means you can focus on your soil selection to ensure you have proper water retention for the particular plant species.

As a side note, the container can become waterlogged without the standing water being visible on top of the soil. This, in my opinion, makes the situation exceptionally dangerous for your plants and drainage is a must.

You can however keep plants in containers without drainage and they can thrive. However, you must be diligent to supply enough water for them, but not too much that the soil becomes waterlogged. Since this is hard to achieve consistently, the best advice is to have proper drainage even if you have to drill your own holes.


Heat absorption can be important to consider depending on where the container is located. Different materials and colors absorb/reflect heat differently which can put the plant inside at differing temperatures.

If you have a container that absorbs heat well, it can dry out the soil faster causing the plant to need water more often. It’s even possible the heat can damage the root system.

As far as the material goes, certain material will absorb heat better than others (regardless of the color). Obviously, metal would become hotter than a plastic container. Color of the container does play a role in heat absorption. Black absorbs more heat than white.

If the container will be kept outside, be sure that it can handle freezing. Some materials (such as concrete) cannot be frozen unless it has been treated.

Container Size

Common knowledge for the size is you want to go around 110% larger than the current container. Basically, you want to try to get a container that is just a little bigger than the plant. The logic behind this is just simply limiting the amount of water that can stay in your soil. If you have a significantly larger container than the plant, the plant’s root system will not have access to all of the water in the soil thus water will stand longer than necessary.

In my experience, the only critical thing you need to do is ensure the container is larger than the root system. Otherwise, the root system will become root bound which will stunt the growth of the plant.

Featured Photo was taken by Aleksei I on Unsplash

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