One of the important decisions you have to make when planting a container is what kind of pot you are going to use. There are many different kinds available and all have something to offer. Some pots will be better than others for a specific use and knowing the advantages and disadvantages of each kind will help the decision making process and ultimately lead to a more successful container garden.

The most widely available kind of container is the terra cotta pot. It is usually a plain reddish-orange color but may be tan, cream, or brown. The word “terra cotta” means baked earth in Italian.


    readily available
    relatively inexpensive
    comes in a large variety of sizes, shapes, styles, and designs
    fits in with most garden décor from formal to informal
    heavy so can take balance a tall plant and withstand wind without tipping over
    porosity allows excess moisture to evaporate


    porosity may lead to excessive water loss and need for frequent watering
    may accumulate salts
    heavy to move around
    fragile and breakable; must be protected from freezing
    will crack and chip over time

Container Gardening PointerThe porosity of terra cotta pots is one of the most important characteristics to consider when choosing a pot. If you are going to plant moisture loving plants and are not good about watering, the terra cotta pot is probably not a good choice. On the other hand, if you are growing plants that like average to dry soil terra cotta is a good choice especially if you tend to overwater plants like I do.

When buying terra cotta pots, pick them up and notice the weight and the texture. Terra cotta pots differ in quality depending on the material used, the method of firing, and the thickness of the pot wall. A cheap pot will be light for its size and will not last as long as a denser one.

By Karen