Glazed Ceramic and Limestone Planters
Photo: David Prince
1. Glazed Ceramic
Hand-glazed, oversize ceramic vases like this pair make excellent containers for dramatic displays of bamboo stalks, or add a jolt of color all on their own.
20 in. tall, 30 lb.; $325;

2. Rustic Limestone
Fill this rough-hewn, porous stone trough with low-growing plants. Just don't plan on moving it once you've set it in place.
10 by 24 in.; about 100 lb., $150;
Gone are the days when terra-cotta ruled. Those ubiquitous red clay pots, long beloved by gardeners, make great showcases for plants of all kinds, but they have some limitations. The same porous quality that carries air to roots also causes the pots to crack in winter and dry out in the heat of summer. If you're looking for alternatives, you'll find plenty of containers, in materials from rugged stone to lightweight fiberglass, that look good, age gracefully, and can hold up year-round in any clime.

Whether you're planning to use them as the basis for a backyard container garden, to hold a pair of shrubs on either side of a front entry, or simply to add visual interest and color in your landscape—or even in your living room—see images (left) for 10 of our favorites.

Planter Tips
For plants to stay healthy and happy they need plenty of water, adequate drainage, and room to grow.

IRRIGATION The more porous a container, the more often it will need watering. Most planters come with drainage holes, but if not, drill them yourself. Place a layer of pottery shards or a piece of window screening over the holes to keep soil from washing out, then add 2 to 3 inches of gravel for proper drainage.

SOIL Containers require a lightweight potting soil, or soil mixed with sand or perlite for drainage. But nourishment drains away, too, so choose a water-retentive soil mix. Then add a slow-release fertilizer to the soil when planting; once plants are established, continue to feed regularly.

SIZE A container that's too small will bind roots; one that's too large may retain excess moisture and drown them. As a rule, tall plants should not be more than twice the height of the container, full plants no more than one-and-a-half times its width.

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