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Variety of pots with plants in arrangement
From Mediterranean-inspired terracotta and clever composites, here’s how to choose outdoor planters that will spruce up your space and give your plants a happy home. 

 

Plenty of planters

Whether you’re looking for a giant outdoor pot for a statement tree or something lightweight and whimsical for bright flowers, there is a wide range of pots to choose from. Here’s how to choose the most practical and stylish home for your outdoor plants.

Which pot goes where?

Before you start shopping, get to know your options. Outdoor pots can be made from a range of different materials – terracotta to timber – but choosing the right one for you depends on where it will live and what you want to put in it, as well as your preferred size, style and budget. 

Ceramic pots

Ceramic pots – glazed ceramic or terracotta (painted or unpainted) – are a popular choice for outdoor pots for many reasons. Clay is heavier than many other materials, making it a good choice for exposed locations – it won’t blow away in high winds. 

There are also a wide range of styles to choose from. Glazed ceramic pots might be smooth and shiny, or imprinted with geometric patterns for a slick, contemporary look. They can be any colour of the rainbow and are a great way to introduce a splash of cheerful colour to the garden. Terracotta pots have a more traditional look, evoking gardens from heritage homes, English country gardens or Mediterranean villas. 

A consideration to keep in mind is that ceramic options are more fragile than other materials – they might get damaged if they are knocked over. In addition, unglazed pots (like terracotta) are porous and draw in water, which may freeze and crack the pot if you’re in a very cold climate. This porosity also makes terracotta pots notorious for drying out the soil – that’s not ideal for water-loving plants (glazed pots are better here), but it makes them just right for dry-climate plants like rosemary or lavender. 

A good solution for porous ceramic pots is to apply a pot sealer, which is a clear finish that can be sprayed onto the pot. Pot sealers provide an extra layer of protection, resisting algae and fungal growth, preventing soil from browning the finish and keeping the pot looking fresh and new.

Ceramic beige pots in the garden with grass plants

Fibre composite pots

Fibre composite pots – typically fibre-clay or fibre-cement – are a game changer when you’re looking for extra-large pots for outdoor plants. These pots are strikingly lightweight for their size, made from natural clay ceramic reinforced with fibreglass mesh or a mix of cement and fibreglass. Both materials allow for thinner pot walls, which means these planters are lighter than traditional ceramic, while still being durable. 

Fibre composite outdoor pots are the planter of choice when size matters. A tree, for example, needs a lot of soil to grow and therefore a large outdoor pot, which is likely to be extremely heavy unless it’s a made from fibre composite.

There are a large variety of styles available, including modern designs in a smooth, matt finish. They’re also cost-effective, falling in the middle of the range (more than plastic but typically less than timber or metal). 

white coloured pots in a garden 

Plastic pots

Plastic pots are the most economical option, especially if you’re buying in bulk to create a potted garden from scratch. They’re super lightweight and easy to move around, which makes them a great option if weight is an issue – for example, if you’re populating a balcony or filling a window box. 

One downside: they’re more likely to blow over if placed in an exposed position. However, at least they’re impact-resistant and unlikely to break if they do tip over. 

Choosing plastic plant pots doesn’t mean compromising on style, either – they come in patterns, colours and textures that imitate ceramic, terracotta, metal or timber planters.

Recycled plastic pots

If plastic sounds like a good option for you, but you’re balking at the environmental impact, look for recycled plastic pots. They are available in a wide range of colours and designs, all made from recycled materials. 

Tip: If your plastic pots have a “5” in a triangle on the base, they can be recycled – check with your local council. You will need to remove any loose soil and give them a quick rinse prior to recycling them, as the machinery used to recycle the plastics can be damaged by dirt. 

pots kept on a  stoned pathway 

Metal pots

Metal planters are durable enough to weather most conditions. These pots are rough, tough and stronger than your average planter. Real metal will show natural wear, oxidising with exposure to the elements. That can enhance the style of your garden – a rust patina might be an eye-catching addition to a coastal-style garden or a rustic country patch, and it might bring a softening colour to a contemporary garden. 

Consider where you’re placing a metal planter, as there is a risk of rust run-off, which will stain decking or pavers. They are also not ideal in full sun, as they will hold heat and might damage your plants. If either of these drawbacks is a concern, an alternative might be imitation metal pots made of plastic. 

metal pots in outdoor area 

Timber pots and barrels

The most common timber planters are half barrels, which can be used as gorgeous statement pieces. They lend a rustic look to any garden, and the wide diameter provides a generous planting surface for clusters of flowering annuals or delicate herbs. 

Real timber can show wear; if you want planters that look new long-term, an imitation timber pot would be a better choice. These planters are made from plastic and mimic real timber, but they are more durable and lighter weight. 

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Mix and match

There’s no rule that says you have to choose only one style of pot. A cluster of several different planters is an easy way to create a striking garden statement. Pulling together a gorgeous group of pots is easy if you follow these basic guidelines.

  • Go for odd numbers of pots – three is easy on the eye and not too crowded or busy. 

  • Choose a diverse range of different shapes and sizes, which also allows you to fill them with plants in various sizes for a good mix of heights.

  • Finally, look for a common connection between the pots – the easiest and most visually soothing is colour. Sticking with one colour allows you to choose pots from different ranges, in varied shapes and styles, and in different materials, and they’ll sit happily together in one blended family.

Plant stands, pot feet and more!

Depending on where you’re placing your pot, you might want to add a saucer. Outdoor pots have drainage holes; indoor or ‘cache-pots’ don’t. (Indoor plants should be popped into planters while still in their nursery pots). Water draining out of the bottom of an outdoor pot isn’t a problem most of the time, but if you’re worried about damage to a timber deck, stains on patio pavers, or a permanent puddle where you walk, a saucer is a good idea. 

A set of pot feet is another patio-saving trick that your plants will appreciate. Pot feet lift the pot off the ground, making it easier for the water to drain away (no more waterlogged and rotten roots); they also allow the air to circulate under the pot, so you won’t lift it up to find black rings of moisture residue. 

Plant stands are another handy accessory – they’re useful for raising small pots of edibles up to easy picking height, but mostly they look great! If you’ve opted for multiple small pots, rather than one big one, a plant stand can give you the height you need for a striking plant display. 

Variety of black and white pots on plant stands

Keep in mind…

Safety tip: Always wear the appropriate safety equipment (gloves and a mask, for example) when handling potting mix, mulch or compost, and always follow the product’s instructions.

Now that you have your pots...

Choose the perfect plant to put in it!

Health & Safety

Please make sure you use all equipment appropriately and safely when following the advice in these D.I.Y. videos. You need to be familiar with how to use equipment safely and follow the instructions that came with the equipment. If you are unsure, you may feel it is safest to consult an expert, such as the manufacturer or an expert Bunnings Team Member.

Grave health hazards are linked to asbestos, which may be in homes built up to 1990. Health hazards may result from exposure to lead-based paints in older materials and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer. You can also use a simple test kit from Bunnings to indicate the presence of lead-based paint.