This Is The Best Houseplant Pot Material (Depending In Your Care Routine)

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Learn from my mistakes here: don’t go spending a tonne of money on plants BEFORE you’ve figured out what kind of plant caregiver you are.

  • Plastic plant pots are cheap and retain moisture
  • Ceramic (glazed) plant pots are expensive and retain moisture
  • Bare terracotta pots dry out pretty quickly

Therefore, plastic and ceramic pots are great if you tend to under water your plants.

Terracotta is great if you over water your plants.

Terracotta pots

What is terracotta?

Terracotta is a type of fired clay – the word means ‘baked earth’ in Italian.

Pros of using terracotta for indoor plants

  • They’re cheap

Like, really cheap. In my local garden centre you can get tiny pots for less than a pound, and a really big one for £10.

  • They all match

I mean, kind of. But you definitely get a very earthy vibe if you exclusively use terracotta, even if they’re not all the same shape.

  • They allow water out and oxygen in

Whilst it’s definitely not impossible to over water a plant in a terracotta pot it’s considerably more difficult to do so. Terracotta dries out really quickly compared to plastic or ceramic pots, so if you have a tendency to kill your plants with kindness, terracotta might be the thing for you.

  • They’re useful even if they break

I like to keep broken terracotta pots and use the piece to block the drainage hole. Note that putting a piece of terracotta over the hole doesn’t stop water from draining out, but it doesn’t stop soil falling out.

Cons of using terracotta for indoor plants

  • They’re no good for underwaterers

I no longer use terracotta for 99% of my plants. They were drying out way too quickly. I use them for my ponytail palm and jade plants, but that’s it.

If you have terracotta and find that you can’t keep on top of watering, you can paint them to seal in the moisture.

  • Terracotta smashes quite easily.

It is NOT drop proof. It’s also not frost-resistant. I learned both of these things from experience. I’m both a dropper and a lazy sod that leaves her plants pots outside all winter, even though she knows FULL WELL that they’ll smash.

Plastic pots

You can buy very nice plastic pots, but if you’re concerned about using too much plastic, you can use the plastic nursery pots your plant came in (and use a fancy pot as a cover pot if you fancy). They’re not exactly good for the environment, but you can reuse them a LOT before they break.

Pros of using plastic pots

  • They keep the moisture in, so your plants won’t dry out as quickly as they would if they were in terracotta.
  • You can use the ones that come with the plants
  • They have a variety of price points
  • You can get self-watering pots
  • It’s fairly sturdy and drop-proof

Cons of using plastic pots

  • Plastic isn’t exactly the best for the environment
  • They don’t usually look aesthetically pleasing.

Ceramic pots

Pros of using ceramic pots

  • They look pretty
  • They’re heavy, so great to use as a cachepot for plants in leca.

Cons of using ceramic pots

  • They’re expensive
  • You can’t tell by weight when to water

Many people swear by ceramic pots, and if I were rich and had all the time in the world to take care of my plants, then I’d definitely go for ceramic. Buuuut they’re too expensive, they’re really heavy, and if you drop them they break.

Also, they often don’t come with a drainage hole so you end up having to drill a hole on the bottom yourself.

Ceramic pots ARE great for big plants, especially floor plants, especially especially plants in leca, because they help to keep the plant weighed down.

What about fabric pots?

I have a whole article on fabric pots here.

Pros of fabric pots

  • You can make them yourself

If you’re handy and have some scrap material hanging around, you can make your own pots

  • They’re porous

Also great for over waterers.

  • They can look cute af

Cons of fabric pots

  • They can go mouldy and rot

This is the reason I’m not a fan. I’m sure there’s something you can use to treat this, but an anti-fungal product might not do your plants any good.

  • They don’t last very long

Again, fabric submerged in wet soil for days at a time doesn’t last for very long.

Final thoughts

I’m very much team plastic pot. Yes, I know it’s not great for the environment and if they announced tomorrow that we’re no longer allowed to make plastic pots and I have to make do with the ones I have THAT’S FINE.

I’d prefer it if they came up with an alternative, but hey ho, if it’s an all-out ban, I’m cool with that.

Anyway, plastic is my poison. I especially like how I can tell that my plants need watering by picking them up and assessing how heavy they are. It only really works with plastic because everything else is too heavy.

This isn’t a right or wrong type scenario. I’d advise that you try out a few different types of pots before deciding what you’d like.

Don’t go out and buy a tonne of ceramic pots before you’ve decided what type of plant caregiver you are.

Trust me, I’ve had to give away a LOT of terracotta over the last couple of years, but at least my plants are alive!

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

2 thoughts on “This Is The Best Houseplant Pot Material (Depending In Your Care Routine)”

  1. Thanks for this article! Personally, I love that you can find a zillion colors in plastic pots. I would like colored terre cotta for my tropicals but then it’s porcelain! I think I will experiment with painting the OUTSIDE of a terre cotta pot! Bet it’s fine

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