Choosing the Right Containers For House Plants

When choosing a container to hold a favourite plant, consider not only its size but also the plant’s shape, its colour and where you intend to site it.

Size and shape

Some very approximate guidelines for choosing the size of pot for a plant are these: For a small plant pick a container that is approximately equal to it in height.

  • A medium-sized plant will probably need a pot about one-third of its height.
  • A tall plant is best balanced by a pot about one-quarter the plant’s height.

However, the shape of the plant is very important too, and can lead you to pick a pot of very different proportions to those above. For instance, a low bushy or trailing plant like a Club Moss (Selaginella kraussiana), Mind-YourOwn-Business (Soleirolia soleirolii) or a small Ivy or Creeping Fig (Ficus pumila) can look very effective grown in a tall, narrow pot which allows plenty of space for trailing or cascading leaves.

Choosing the Right Containers For House Plants

Often a pot that echoes the plant shape will be most effective. Spreading leaved plants which form an arch shape, for instance, look good in a pot with a rim wider than the base and upright plants are often best in a straight-sided pot.

However, these are not hard and fast rules and in the end personal preference may be the deciding factor. Place your plant in a container, then stand back and decide if it makes the perfect partner.

Container colour

A pot that picks out the colour of a plant’s leaves or matches its flowers will double the impact. A white ceramic pot will show off the white streaks in the leaves of a variegated Ivy, for instance, or a Spider Plant. A deep red spray-painted plastic container would bring out the tones in a Painted Net Leaf Plant or a Mother of Thousands.

White containers also make the green of a plant appear brighter and a green pot blends beautifully.

Finally, having suited plant to container, place it in its intended position and make sure that it’s the best place for it to thrive.

choosing house plant containersSome container suggestions

Many household items can be put to new use very effectively as a plant container. Here are some suggestions:

  • Baskets of all shapes and sizes
  • Large-necked vases
  • Tableware: bowls, teapots, vegetable dishes Mugs, cups and jugs
  • Ceramic salad bowls and old wash bowls
  • Earthenware and glazed casseroles
  • Metal cake tins, spray painted and lined with foil Old waste paper baskets
  • Tub containers (use ones that originally held adhesives or paint); these can be spray painted to get the right colour.

Tip: Where you decide to plant directly into a container, first line the base with porous clay pellets to allow good drainage.

Showing off the shape

The suggestions given for matching pot and plant should not be rigidly followed; there are always highly successful marriages that break all the rules.

  • For plants with more unusual shapes you could consider the following containers: large terracotta saucers, round ceramic pots; and conical dishes.
  • Suiting pot to pot Don’t forget that the choice of container will play a special part when you are making a group arrangement.
  • For not only must the pot and plant suit each other but also the whole grouping must have visual appeal.

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