Difference Between Pots And Planters: Size, Material & More

Pots and planters are container gardening tools used to hold plants and soil. Though they serve a similar purpose, there are some key differences between pots and planters.

Pots are typically smaller containers used to hold a single plant, or just a few plants. They can be made from materials like terracotta, plastic, or ceramic. Pots usually have drainage holes at the bottom to allow excess water to flow out. They are portable and easy to move indoors or outdoors.

Planters are larger containers that hold more soil and multiple plants. Planters are usually not moved or transported; they provide a more permanent home for plants. Planters are often made from wood, resin, or decorative materials. Planters may or may not have drainage holes, depending on the intended use.

While pots and planters can often be used interchangeably, understanding the differences allows gardeners to select the best container type for their needs. The key contrasts lie in size, drainage, material, portability, and costs.

pots vs planter

Pots vs Planter: Materials Used

Pots and planters come in a variety of materials, each with their own properties and use cases. Pots are generally made from:

– Clay: Terracotta clay pots are porous and allow air and water to pass through the sides. This provides good drainage and allows the roots to breathe. Clay is heavy and prone to cracking.

– Plastic: Plastic pots are lightweight, inexpensive, and come in many colors. They retain more moisture than clay.

– Ceramic: Ceramic pots have an attractive glazed finish. They are durable but prone to cracking if exposed to freezing temperatures.

– Metal: Metal pots like copper and galvanized steel boast a rustic, industrial look. But they can heat up quickly in the sun.

Planters tend to be made from:

– Wood: Wood planters bring a natural touch but require more maintenance. The wood may rot or warp over time.

– Plastic: Plastic planters are affordable, come in various colors, and resist weathering. But they lack the visual appeal of natural materials.

– Concrete: Concrete planters are extremely durable and weather resistant but very heavy. They work well for permanent outdoor installation.

The material affects the look, longevity, weight, water retention, and cost of the container. Consider factors like climate, location, and plant needs when selecting pots and planters.

Pots vs Planter: Purpose

The main difference between pots and planters is their intended purpose.

Pots are designed for growing plants; they are ideal for growing indoor plants like succulents, orchids, herbs, and more They provide space for roots to spread out and often have drainage holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain away. Pots come in a range of sizes to accommodate seedlings and fully mature plants. Pots help plants thrive by facilitating healthy root growth and plant development.

Planters, on the other hand, are made for displaying grown and mature plants. Planters don’t necessarily have drainage holes, as they are meant to simply hold and showcase plants. Their purpose is decorative, to exhibit plants in an aesthetically pleasing way.

Planters are chosen to complement decor or to make a visual statement indoors or outdoors. They aren’t intended to house long-term plant growth, but rather to provide an attractive home for greenery.

Pots vs Planter: Size

Pots tend to be smaller in size, while planters are often much larger. Pots usually range from just a few inches across to around 1-2 feet in diameter. Their small size makes them easy to move around and arrange in groups.

Planters can be over 2 feet in diameter. Large planters are sometimes referred to as planter boxes. Some planters are even built-in as part of the architecture of a home. The scale of planters allows for planting larger plants, including bushes and small trees. Their size also provides more growing room for plant roots.

Pots vs Planter: Drainage

One of the key differences between pots and planters is drainage. Pots are designed with holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain out. This is important for healthy root growth, as it prevents the roots from growing in soggy soil and rotting. Most pots will have several drainage holes, ranging in size depending on the width of the pot.

Planters may or may not have drainage holes. Some planters are designed more for decoration and to contain plants, rather than to actually grow them. These planters allow you to have greenery in your home or office while managing the watering yourself. Planters can be problematic for healthy plant growth if you overwater, since the excess moisture has no way to escape.

Other planters do come with drainage holes, recognizing that the plants still need a way for water to drain out. If you are getting a planter without holes, you’ll need to be very careful not to overwater your plants. Adding rocks or pebbles to the bottom does not help with drainage, contrary to popular belief. The key is getting the watering schedule right and avoiding soggy soil.

Pots vs Planter: Mobility and Handling

Pots and planters differ significantly in their mobility. Pots are designed to be easily moved from location to location. They are generally lightweight, made from materials like clay, plastic, or metal. The sides taper inward to allow for easy gripping. Some pots have handles built into the sides to facilitate lifting and moving.

Unlike pots, planters are fixed in place; they are not meant to be moved once stationed. Planters are often made from heavy materials like concrete, wood, or ceramic. Planters may be large and heavy, requiring more than one person or equipment to shift their position. They are designed with stability in mind, to remain stationary on a patio, deck, or elsewhere. Some planters are even built into the ground or part of the landscaping. 

The mobility of pots allows flexibility in designing indoor and outdoor spaces. Pots can be readily rearranged to alter the look and feel of a room or garden. Planters provide a sense of permanence appropriate for structural landscaping elements. So, the key difference is that pots are mobile while planters are immobile.

Pots vs Planter: Cost

Pots tend to be less expensive than planters. You can find basic plastic or ceramic pots for only a few dollars at most gardening stores and home improvement stores. More decorative pots may cost $10-$30 or more depending on the material, but they are still generally inexpensive, especially for smaller sizes.

Planters, on the other hand, are more of an investment. Even basic plastic planters can cost $20 or more. More decorative wooden, metal, or ceramic planters often cost $50-$200. Larger planters and self-watering planters with reservoirs can cost several hundred dollars. The materials, construction methods, and additional features result in planters having a higher price point than basic pots.

If you just need practical vessels for holding plants on a budget, simple pots will suffice. But if you want decorative statement pieces for your patio or garden, planters give you many more stylish options that come at a higher cost. Consider how much you want to spend and which aesthetic you prefer when deciding between basic pots or higher-end planters.

Related: What To Put In Bottom Of Planter Without Drainage Holes

End Notes

Pots and planters serve similar purposes for containing plants and soil, but have some key differences. The main differences come down to drainage, size, weight, and purpose. Gladdens to know that you can distinguish between pots and planters as well as select the most suitable medium for your plants.

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