pots outdoors

The best outdoor plant pots for your garden or patio area

Spruce up your space in seconds.

When you’re shopping for the best plant pot for the leafy Monstera in your living room, you don’t have to consider much more than its appearance (and whether your plant will fit inside). Choosing outdoor plant pots, however, requires a little more thought.

Budget, location and the upkeep you’re happy to do must all be considered before you can make your final selection. You have to choose something that’s sturdy enough for the job, too: a garden pot for flowers might not be strong enough to hold a small tree, for example. To help you pick the right garden pot for your needs, we’ve broken down some of the pros and cons of most typical materials on offer.

Wood has a rustic, natural finish and, if you look for FSC-certified options, make a good sustainable option. If you go for those made with untreated timber, they can be stained or painted a colour of your own choice. It does require annual treatments to keep it looking its best and, if not cared for, can become susceptible to damp or mould damage.

Plastic is hardwearing, doesn’t need any maintenance, is lightweight and usually quite inexpensive — so it’s great for those on a budget. It will fade over time, though, and doesn’t always look as smart as metal or wooden options.

Metal typically fares well outside. It won’t fade or go mouldy, but lesser-quality options may begin to rust after some time. It’s very versatile, though, and there are many different finishes depending on whether you’re looking to achieve a more modern or traditional effect.

Terracotta has that lovely warm tone that works very well indoors and outdoors — but larger pots can be pricey and this material will smash if you happen to drop it.

Whatever you’re looking for, we’ve rounded up a selection of our favourite outdoor plant pots in a range of colours, materials and price points, so you can show off all your plants in your garden or on your patio or balcony perfectly.

Spruce up your garden in seconds with the best outdoor plant pots including wood, plastic, metal and terracotta. Shop the best garden pots in our roundup.

How to Grow Hydrangeas in Pots

Potted Hydrangeas

Use hydrangeas in pots to add splashes of color under trees in your landscape. Consider putting them on rolling plant stands if they’re heavy.

Photo by: Photo by Lynn Coulter

Photo by Lynn Coulter

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If you’ve ever been given a hydrangea in a foil-wrapped pot, you probably enjoyed it or a few weeks, but then watched sadly as it declined. That might make you think hydrangeas aren’t good container plants.

Most potted, gift hydrangeas fail to thrive because they’re kept indoors too long. Others die because they’ve been raised in a greenhouse, and even if planted outdoors, they’re not cold hardy in your part of the country.

But hydrangeas can be great potted plants, if you make good choices. Here’s what you need to know.

Potted Hydrangea

Hydrangeas in containers can be used on decks, patios or on stands in your garden. This plant, held atop an old column, adds an elegant touch.

Photo by: Photo by Lynn Coulter

Photo by Lynn Coulter

  1. First, decide where you’ll put the hydrangeas. The beauty of growing them in pots is that you can move them around. Many hydrangeas like morning sun and afternoon shade, so this also makes it easier to give them the growing conditions they prefer. You can also move them around to decorate a patio or other space for a party or special occasion.
  2. When you’re choosing containers, look for pots with wheels on the bottom, or consider sturdy, rolling plant stands, unless your pots will remain in the same place all the time. Don’t forget that containers can get really heavy after you add dirt and plants, and watering will add to their weight.
  3. Choose a large container (at least 18 to 20 inches in diameter) for your hydrangea. Small pots—like the one your gift hydrangea came in—usually dry out too fast, causing the plant to wilt. If your container doesn’t have holes for drainage, drill some into the bottom. Water that stands around the roots can cause rotting.
  4. Next, choose a variety recommended for your region. (This is a rule of thumb for success with any plant.) Read plant tags or research varieties online to find the right ones for your garden. Most hydrangeas are hardy in USDA zones 4 to 8, and some can grow in zones 3 and 9.
  5. While you don’t have to use dwarf hydrangeas in pots, you may want to if your space is limited. Hydrangeas don’t just get tall; they also get bushy. Otherwise, plan on doing some pruning as your plants grow. Caution: while you’re doing your research, check to see if your variety flowers on old or new wood. If you prune at the wrong time of year, you’ll loose next year’s flowers.
  6. Use a good quality potting soil with organic matter, not ordinary garden soil. Plant the hydrangea at the same level that it was in its original pot (that is, don’t plant it deeper or higher than it was already growing). Leave some room below the rim of the pot, so you can water.
  7. Gently firm the soil around the roots to eliminate air pockets.
  8. When the top inch or so of the potting mix feels dry, water your hydrangea thoroughly. But it’s better to underwater than overwater. Hydrangeas will signal you by wilting when they need a drink, but that can stress them, so check them every day or so. After a little while, you’ll get a feel for how often to water. You may need to step up your watering in periods of drought or high temperatures.
  9. Hydrangeas don’t need a lot of fertilizer, but you can feed your plants once or twice a year with a slow-release balanced fertilizer, a 10-10-10 granular fertilizer or commercial, composted manure. Don’t fertilize after July or August if you live in a warm climate. Northern gardeners can get away with fertilizing only once, around June or July. Feeding later encourages tender, new growth, just when hydrangeas need to start going dormant for the winter.
  10. Don’t fertilize if your plant already looks sick or diseased; you’ll add only to its stress. Try to fix the problem instead.
  11. After the flowers finish, snip them off to encourage new growth.

Looking for compact or dwarf hydrangeas to grow in containers? Try these:

These beautiful, shade-loving shrubs also thrive in pots. Get planting and growing tips, plus find the best hydrangea varieties for pots with help from HGTV.