Garden Planters Guide: Outdoor and Indoor Container Planters, Types of Pots

Georgette Kilgore headshot, wearing 8 Billion Trees shirt with forest in the background.Written by Georgette Kilgore

Gardening | February 14, 2024

Confused man with a shovel wonders about garden planters and how to choose garden containers for indoor and outdoor container planting, and the planter materials available for potted plants.

Choosing the right garden planters takes your home garden to a whole new level.

Plant containers are versatile, and there are no limits to what you can achieve with them, whether you are considering apartment gardening/ urban gardening or want to start your own backyard garden.

There are so many types of planters out there, coming in different designs, shapes, colors, and sizes, and needless to say, it can be a little bit overwhelming to decide on one or just a few.

But, a good rule of thumb is to choose the types of garden planters that will meet your needs for space and the type of plants you’re growing.

This guide explains the type of garden planters available, based on whether you need them indoors or outdoors or both, and the various types of pots to use to ensure plants stay healthy.

What Is a Garden Planter? (Definition)

The first thing you notice when you look up gardening for beginners, either indoor or landscape gardening, is planters.

Graphics of types of planters showing Fiberglass planter, Plastic planter, Terra cotta planter, Metal planter, Wood planter, Ceramic planter, and Concrete planter images.

(Metal Planter Image: Suanpa10) (Concrete Planter Image: Hans Linde11)

Planters are used to grow flowers, vegetables, and trees indoor, outdoors, and even in greenhouse gardening.

The planter’s size, style, and design all play a role in how you will choose the planters you need.

Pots and Planters: Are They the Same Thing?

Getting your gardening supplies and gardening tools ready is the very first step to becoming an expert when it comes to container gardening. However, there is one important thing that needs to get out of the way first: the issue of pots vs. planters.

Of course, they do the same job, and it is easy to use the words interchangeably, but interestingly, the two are different.

For one, you should know that a planter is a larger container that holds more potting soil and is able to accommodate food and ornamental plants. It goes without saying that it is better for use outdoors; that also means that it is made of tougher materials and, in turn, is obviously more expensive.

On the other hand, a pot is smaller, simpler, and originally designed to hold just one plant. It holds less potting mix, but it is way more portable and more affordable.3

So, which one to go for, you may ask? It all depends on your needs and preferences.

How To Differentiate Types of Planters

As you already know by now, garden planters come in various forms, and if you are interested in landscape, urban, or container gardening and want to grow a tree or plant, you would want to know the types that are available.

Here is a breakdown of the various options by material,5 size, shape, and usage.

Planter Material

  • Fiberglass: This is one planter material that is making waves in the gardening world. It is a relatively modern concept where the glass is specially spun into fiber and resin to make a durable and stylish container.
    Understandably, these planters are more expensive because of their high quality.
  • Plastic: If you are looking for a more affordable option, plastic garden planters will be perfect. They are lightweight and cheap but not very durable, so they don’t usually last that long.
  • Wood: Wood is also a top choice for DIY planters and cheaper containers. They are more natural and lightweight in most cases, but there are concerns about whether they are of great monetary value, especially considering that they could rot at some point.
  • Metal: Unlike wood, metal is able to withstand harsh conditions outside, especially aluminum. But on the downside, metals are infamous for overheating in the sun.
  • Concrete: Durability comes first with these planters, but the problem is that they are not really portable options.
  • Terra cotta: These materials are more durable than many other options, but the problem is that they can be brittle and heavy.
  • Ceramic: They are almost the same materials as terracotta but with an additional protective layer on top to reduce evaporation.2

Outdoor Planters Vs Indoor Planters

You can have indoor or outdoor flower pots based on your gardening zones and what you want to plant. Did you know that planters for indoor gardening are sometimes not favorable for use outdoors?

There is a difference, and you have to be very careful because, if planting outdoors, you will need materials like terra cotta, which allow for breathability, and concrete for their durability.

You can always use plastics and ceramics indoors, though, since they won’t last that long outside.

Planter Boxes and Other Planter Shapes

Garden planters also come in various shapes, although there are actually two main variations, round and box (square and rectangular).

From that, you will get more types like fluted, rounded, and tapered.

White daisies in a small plastic planter box which is atop a window sill.

(Image: Jill Wellington8)

What about the best shape?

They are all unique in their own rights because the circular ones fit into any landscaping style and look amazing while at it, while the box ones have the advantage of being able to save space and effectively line landscapes.

Large Garden Planters Vs Small Planters

Garden planters are also available in different sizes,6 and you can choose either the massive or the smaller versions depending on your needs.

For instance, the larger ones are for when you want to grow more plants in one place and actually have the space for it.

They are also able to retain more water; it is only that they are more expensive.

Alternatively, you can use the smaller planters or shallow planters for succulents if you have very little space available and are on a tight budget and trust that they will still get the job done.

Factors To Consider When Buying Garden Pots and Garden Planters

Is this your first time gardening? Are you looking for the best garden planters and the most stunning plants?

Then, here are some factors that you should consider when buying your containers.

Planter Drainage

This is probably the most important aspect to consider when it comes to your containers because you definitely want the plants to have enough oxygen in the roots and only enough water to survive, not too much.1

You may be wondering what to put in the bottom of a planter now that there are holes; you can lay a sheet of paper that will prevent the potting mix from slipping out of the container.

Or, you can place a tray to collect the excess.

Design of the Planter

Manufacturers create some of the most stunning and functional planters ever, but one that stands out from the rest is the self-watering planter. What is a self-watering planter?

This is a container that is created in such a way that the planter always has a constant supply of water. It is an automatic garden watering system that will give you a very easy time, especially if you have a thirsty backyard vegetable garden.

The planter’s cost, material, and size are also going to go a long way to influence your choice.

Garden Planters Ideas

One of the best things about planters is the fact that they are so versatile. You are free to let your imagination and creativity run wild as you experiment with various ideas.

Here are a few places to start.

Grow Vegetables in a Raised Garden Bed

Raised garden planters and beds are becoming more popular, especially for kitchen gardens, and it is not just because they look really great.

Many find the plants easier to care for in that position, particularly for gardeners with back and joint problems.

Try Vertical Gardening

If you are worried that you don’t have enough space to have your garden, you will be excited that there are vertical garden planters that will not only help you save space but will look amazing, like a living wall.

These types of garden planters look great on patios and other outdoor spaces, as well as indoor areas in a sunny room.

Hanging Planter Boxes

Planters don’t always have to be on the ground; you can get creative and have hanging planters instead on your gazebo or porch.4,7

These ones have a unique way of revamping a space while not taking up a lot of room.

DIY Garden Planters

If you pride yourself on being creative, then you can go ahead and design your own planters.

You can check how to make garden planters online and come up with a stunning, unique container that will be just as good or even better than the store-bought ones.

Eye-level shot of an old car repurposed and used as a substitute for garden pots showing flowering plants on its hood.

(Image: Jim Black9)

You don’t really have to worry about not having enough space for gardening or your garden soil not being perfect.

Absolutely anything is possible with container gardening; you just have to get a few things right, and you will be set to owning a stunning and productive garden.

The best part about it is that you are able to use any planter that you want. They come in many materials, shapes, colors, and sizes, and you can choose literally any of them based on your style and needs.

You will have to factor in what you are going to plant and whether it will be indoors or outdoors, that way you can choose the best types of garden planters that will meet your particular needs. 

Frequently Asked Questions About Garden Planters

What Are the Types of Plant Pots That Can Be Used for Garden Planters?

Garden planters come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and varieties, so there’s plenty to choose for your specific growing needs.

What Are the Best Garden Planters To Use for Spinach?

Growing Spinach plant varieties can be done indoors using rectangular garden planters that can be moved easily and that have access to plenty of sunlight.

What Can You Do With Garden Planter?

Garden planters are ideal for growing vegetables and flowers, but you might also consider using them as an attractive oil diffusers–simply fill with essential oil sticks or some other natural diffuser–around your home.


1Morse, E. (2022, June 30). Factors to Consider When Shopping for Planters. Planters Place. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from <>

2Planters Etc. (2023, May 22). 9 Types Of Planters | The Most Popular Pots For Decor & Plant Health Planters Etc. Planters Etc. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from <>

3Decorative Planters. (2023). Planters and Pots: What’s the Difference? Decorative Planters. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from <>

4Wilson, S. (2022, July 7). Garden planter ideas: 24 wooden, metal and terracotta containers for patios, decking, porches and paths. Gardening etc. Retrieved September 28, 2023, from <>

5Phillips, L. (2020, April 27). A Guide to Flower Pots. KU Center for Community Outreach. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

6University of Illinois. (2023). Considering Size and Shape – Choosing a Container for Planting – Successful Container Gardens – UniversityofIllinoisExtension. Illinois Extension. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

7Lerner, R. B. (2002, October). Hanging Baskets. Purdue University. Retrieved October 3, 2023, from <>

8Photo by Jill Wellington. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

9Photo by Jim Black. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

10Photo by Suanpa. Resized and Change Format. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>

11Photo by Hans Linde. Resized and Change Format. Pixabay. Retrieved from <>