Difference between pots and planters

Online shopping is the norm, especially after the circumstances that forced us to stay at home for so long. Shopping online is convenient, practical and above all very easy. I have obviously used these services to purchase everything I need to care for my plants, which is also a great thing because it has saved me from having to travel all over town juggling plants and other heavy things.

As I had to transplant my Calatheas, I ordered some beautiful pots and some substrate. When they arrive home I discover that my pot has no holes for drainage and I can't put my plant in there. At this point I realised that technically a pot is not the same as a planter.

Believe it or not, there are differences between pots and planters. There are words that we get used to using interchangeably, but which actually have different meanings. Beyond becoming purist defenders of language, knowing precisely what each term expresses allows us to communicate more effectively. In the world of gardening we can fall into these ambiguities, a little out of ignorance and a little because it doesn't seem to matter, until we find that we have bought something and we receive something that is not exactly what we need.

Pots Vs Planters

The difference is very simple, and if you do some research the RAE itself clears up the doubt. Pots are containers with drainage holes in the bottom, designed to contain substrate and plants. They are made of different materials: biodegradable, recycled, cement, wood and more, although plastic, clay or terracotta are the most popular. This variety of materials is not merely a question of aesthetics, as each plant should have a pot that suits its needs and allows it to grow to its full potential.

Planters on the other hand are supports to contain pots with plants. They can refer to those decorative pots that hide the pot, but they also group together those that have legs and offer height. They stand out because they lack drainage holes, as they are intended to be a cover that allows the style and colour of the pot to be easily changed without having to subject the poor plant to the trauma of transplanting unnecessarily. The pots can also act as an insulator to protect the soil or surface where you place the plant from water and substrate, but they also help to conserve the temperature and humidity of the plant. This is particularly useful in summer, when we want to conserve moisture in the substrate of plants such as ferns, calatheas and phytonias, for example.

Pot types

Not all pots are the same and it is essential to know the differences. As the containers that will hold your plant's roots and substrate, it is important to look for the material, shape and structure that will allow the plant to develop freely so that it can grow into a lush and happy specimen. From this perspective, there are several aspects to take into account before making your choice.

  • According to its location:

Outdoor pots

All pots that will be placed outdoors must have a good drainage system. This is because at certain times of the year there is no way to control watering, they receive rain and it is essential that excess water drains quickly from the substrate to prevent the roots from rotting. Clay or terracotta pots are recommended because they allow the pot to transpire and allow the water to evaporate a little more easily, and they are also more ecological.

Outdoor pots should be made of a material that is able to withstand extreme temperature changes. It is no use having a nice plastic pot if it will weaken and break under UV rays. The same applies to frost. Avoid pots made of metallic materials and glass, as they tend not to withstand environmental stress very well; terracotta, fibre and quality plastic are ideal.

Another aspect to consider for outdoor pots is their weight and how easy they are to transport. If in winter it is necessary to move them indoors to protect them from the cold temperatures, then you can look for a stand with wheels so that you can transport them easily. The easiest possible way is to fit wheels to the pots that will hold these heavy pots.

Indoor pots

With indoor plants it is much easier to choose a pot, as indoor temperatures are usually quite stable, so you can use whatever material you like without fear of them deteriorating so easily. If you have pets, it is advisable to choose a slightly heavier material so that in case your furry friend gets the brilliant idea to play with the plant, the pot stays in place and doesn't tip over. As always, keep an eye on the size and drainage of the pot. Remember that an excessively large pot can retain too much moisture and cause root rot, so choose one that is proportionately sized to the plant, always leaving it room to grow.

Always place pebbles in the bottom to facilitate drainage. You can also use small pieces of polystyrene (the kind that are always left over from packaging) in the bottom. They are very efficient for drainage, do not degrade over time and do not add extra weight to the pot.
  • Depending on their material

Plastic pots

Plastic and fibre pots are the most popular and economical, as they are lightweight and very durable. Depending on the type of plastic used to make them, they may or may not withstand UV rays; although the most common ones (which you get with plants everywhere) tend to fade and weaken in the sun, and are not very aesthetically pleasing. Another aspect to keep in mind with plastic pots is that they tend to retain humidity and temperature for a little longer, which can be beneficial for certain types of plants.

Clay and terracotta pots

Terracotta pots have a very interesting finish, especially if you like a rustic style. It is a natural material, biodegradable and with a certain weight; so they are ideal for plants of a certain size, as they will not easily tip over due to the weight of the plant or the wind. Clay and terracotta are porous materials, so they facilitate water evaporation and keep the substrate fresh.

These types of pots are ideal for plants susceptible to rotting, such as succulents, and for places with high temperatures as they cool the roots, while easily eliminating excess humidity. The only disadvantage is that they need to be protected in winter, as they can crack in cold temperatures.

Stone and/or concrete pots

Stone and concrete pots are perfect for outdoors, as they are very resistant to the weather. They integrate very well in natural, rustic and even modern environments depending on the texture and finish of the pots. The only drawback of this type of pots is that they are usually very heavy, so there can be problems if they have to be moved, although wheels can be added.

Polyethylene planters

Polyethylene is a higher quality type of plastic, which offers the advantage of being able to create pots with different colours and finishes that look more aesthetically pleasing. It is even possible to find polyethylene pots that imitate terracotta and wood. They are light, economical and resist temperature changes much better.

  • Depending on the type of plant

Pots for succulents and cacti

Succulents are plants with shallow roots, so you can use pots that are wider than they are deep. This can be used to make decorative compositions with different plants. Remember not to use pots that are too large, to prevent them from retaining moisture. It is very important that they have a structure that facilitates drainage, as they are very susceptible to root rot. For this reason it is also recommended to use clay or terracotta pots, which facilitate water evaporation.

Bonsai pot

Bonsai have a modified root system to keep the tree small. Because of this they are shallow and do not require much depth, so they can be planted in very shallow pots. Remember that the bonsai is considered a set comprising the plant and the pot, so it is important to take advice on the material and finish of the pots.

Orchid pots

Orchids are very particular plants that require a special substrate, which allows the roots to oxygenate. Some people prefer to plant them directly in transparent pots, as this way the roots will also receive light. This depends on the species, as this may be necessary to stimulate flowering, although it depends on the species.

Types of planter

Planters are fantastic decorative pieces but they can also function as plant protectors. By containing the pots, they provide an extra layer of protection against UV rays, help to maintain the temperature of the root system and prevent excessive evaporation of moisture from the substrate. To choose the ideal pot you need to consider the location so that you can choose the one that suits your plant best.

Outdoor pots

Outdoor planters are usually made of materials such as stone, concrete or wood, as they are resistant to temperature changes and will not break or crack under UV rays or frost. They are ideal for creating combinations of plants that can be changed very easily depending on the season, especially because there is no need to transplant or move heavy pots, but you can take the pots out at your convenience. It is recommended to avoid metal pots, as they are exposed to the sun's rays, which can overheat and adversely affect the roots, which should always be cool in the substrate.

  • Indoor pots

Indoor pots tend to have more of an ornamental function, as the indoor environment is usually more stable and controlled, especially in terms of temperature and humidity. From this perspective, planters will be responsible for offering an aesthetically pleasing support, but also at a functional level within the space. The materials and texture can respond more to the decorative style that predominates in the room, without worrying too much about the permeability of the material, as that is what the planter takes care of.

However, you can still use pots to help conserve temperature and humidity although you have more freedom in terms of materials. For example, you can use metal pots without major worries, as the inside of your home will not receive the sun's rays so constantly to heat it up.
  • Decorative planters

Planters are like dresses, as they will play with the shape and colours of your plants to highlight their attributes. You can use pots in contrasting colours, to highlight the beauty and lines of your plants. If you want to create a sense of cohesion in your indoor garden, you can buy planters of the same colour or material. Take advantage of planters to provide adequate space for plant growth. For example, you can use hanging pots for plants that grow downwards. A decorative pot with long legs will give height to low plants that might be overlooked or not getting enough light. It can also make it safe from the attacks of restless pets.

The best part is that you can give your decor a twist by simply changing the planters. If you want something more rustic, you can opt for decorative jute planters. prefer something more industrial minimalist? Go for a concrete planter. The combination of ceramic and wood is also great for modern and eclectic rooms. If you're the kind of person who goes all out for Christmas, you can also get festive planters for the festive season.

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About the author
Ame Rodríguez

Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.

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