The right indoor plant containers can make or break a plant.
That $100 exotic palm from the fancy nursery is going to look tacky in a green plastic pot.
But the $10.99 palm from the discount home store will look elegant in a Chinese ceramic container.
Plants are the botanical equivalent of the basic black dress.
And indoor plant containers are the accessories that can dress them up or dress them down.
Before we start accessorizing, let's talk about the basic requirements of a container: It must be large enough to stabilize and nourish the plant; it must protect your floor from dirt and moisture, and it must provide adequate drainage for the plant.
Size: Generally, the taller the plant, the larger the container it needs. This is both an aesthetic and a physical requirement. A tall plant requires a broad base to stabilize it; plus it would look weird in a tiny pot.
You can often repot your new plant in a container one to two inches larger in diameter than the one it came in.
Do not go any larger, or the plant could get root rot as the excess soil will hold too much moisture for the roots to absorb.
If the plant still looks too large aesthetically for the pot, set the pot inside a larger decorative container.
Drainage: Your container must have drainage holes, or the plant could get root rot.
However, you don't want the plant draining on your cherry hardwood floor.
If the pot you love has no drainage holes, fake it. Put the plant in a smaller, plastic container with drainage holes, then set the plant into the holeless container.
Cover the top of the pots with sphagnum moss, and no one can tell the ugly container is there.
And, of course, if your container does have drainage holes, you must have a saucer underneath. Do not cover the drainage holes with gravel. If you're concerned about the soil coming out, cover the holes with a coffee filter. But this is usually not a problem.
Containers come in many types of materials: clay, ceramic, plastic, wicker. Choose the materials that best complement your decor. Here's a brief look at each:
Pots can be reused, but do take the precaution of cleaning it thoroughly first to remove any resident bacteria. Scrub the pot with a solution of one part bleach to nine parts water. Then rinse thoroughly.
Don't be timid. Any container can contain a plant, so don't be afraid to experiment. I've seen plants in copper watering cans, teapots, antique wash bowls. Use the pot within a pot method, and you can switch containers every week if you like.