Don’t let a small space or the lack of a yard prevent you from dreaming big. You can host a thriving garden in a planter: Group vegetables and herbs for a culinary feast; cluster several evening-scented white blooms for an ethereal moon garden; or go elegantly minimal with a sculptural Japanese maple or bold agave. As a city dweller, I am always on the lookout for chic planters for my tiny New York City terrace. Below, a summary of the most common types of planter (clay, metal, and composite) and their pros and cons. Plus, some statement pieces that are currently catching my eye.
Chances are you have several clay pots at home—for good reason: Clay makes an excellent material for garden container. It’s porous, allowing water to evaporate easily (a perfect candidate for cacti and succulents), and it’s abundant. You can find clay pots practically everywhere, in a variety of hues and prices. Terra-cotta is the most common. Ceramic pots have an additional glaze coating, which helps seal in moisture. All clay pots—glazed and unglazed—can chip or crack, so be mindful of how you care for them. (See Gardening 101: How to Prevent Cracks in Terra-Cotta Planters.)
Whether zinc, steel, copper, aluminum, or iron, seemingly indestructible metal can run
the gamut of styles from sleek and modern to elegant and traditional. The material’s
downside is that it can get hot in summer. Keep containers out of direct sun if you live in
areas with soaring temperatures.
Formulated from a blend of materials like stone, resin, and fiber, composite containers are made to look like natural stone, clay, or metal, but they weigh much less and are more durable—you won’t have to worry about rust or breakage.
- Object of Desire: Fluted Terracotta Planters by Billy Cotton
- 10 Easy Pieces: Terracotta Pots and Planters
- 10 Easy Pieces: Corten Steel Planters