By Hosea Omole
Selecting containers for your garden, balcony or indoor planting is more than just picking your favourite from the first roadside vendor you come across. Besides choosing a style, shape and colour that suits your decorating theme, you also need to consider the material from which the containers are made.
Here are some of the merits and demerits of different container types to help you choose wisely:
Clay pots may be glazed or unglazed, coloured or patterned, light or dark in colour. Whichever you choose, they are attractive and can make a long-lasting addition to the garden, often improving with age and wear. They also suit a wide range of applications and garden styles.
Clay pots are however best avoided in exposed sites because they are fragile and easily break. Being a porous material, plants also tend to dry out pretty quickly under exposed conditions. Because of their substantial weight, their mobility is also limited.
Containers made of metal may seem like a contemporary idea, but in fact some of the most desirable antique pots are made of lead and are suitable for a wide range of applications. Modern metal containers tend to be made of steel or galvanized aluminium and are simply styled, unlike lead planters, which feature more elaborate, classical designs.
By nature, metal containers are long lasting, and can be heavy (especially the lead ones), which makes them good for open sites. They can also be very stylish and rich. They are, however, comparatively more expensive, particularly those made of lead. They also usually look out of place in informal gardens and may not suit some plants.
Wood is a good material for a planter; it is soft, warm and very versatile. It weathers beautifully if treated and suits a very wide range of situations. Although fairly lightweight and therefore easily moved, wooden containers are strong and durable. They are also extremely attractive and are a good choice for situations where large planters are required.
Good-quality wooden containers can however be quite expensive, especially those suited to more formal sites. They also need regular treatment with preservatives to keep them looking good.