Containers allow gardeners to grow plants where they otherwise could not grow, such as on an apartment balcony, and provide cultivation options for gardeners who can't access an at-grade garden due to physical limitations. Houseplants and hanging plants require containers well-suited to their specific growing requirements. Self-watering containers provide the best outdoor planters, while unglazed clay pots make the ideal houseplant container, and wire baskets provide the best range of design options for hanging baskets.
Self-watering containers are ideal for growing vegetables or an ornamental display of lush flowers and foliage. Designed with an internal water reservoir over an elevated, perforated floor which holds the potting medium and plants, self-watering containers allow you to leave your plants several days without drying out. An overflow opening allows excessive rain water to run out without over-saturating plant roots. You can also place a milk jug or other container under the overflow spout and return the excess to the container the next time it requires watering.
Hanging baskets can provide an impressive display of flowers or foliage at eye level, creating a privacy screen around a porch or in front of a window indoors, while maximizing use of gardening space. Although many plastic hanging containers are available, the Clemson University Cooperative Extension points out that wire baskets allow more design options and are available in a wider range of sizes. Additionally, hanging baskets are often viewed from below. A wire mesh basket can be planted on its sides as well as on the top, making for a much more attractive display. Line the basket with damp sphagnum moss or coir, and hang it securely from sturdy chains and a deep-set hook to avoid the container falling when it is heavy with water and full-grown plants.
Although many houseplants thrive in moist air, saturated roots and over-watering is more harmful to most houseplants than under-watering, according to the West Virginia University Extension Service. To ensure adequate root-system aeration, the West Virginia Extension recommends unglazed clay pots as the best houseplant container. Unglazed clay pots will likely require more frequent watering than required by plastic pots, but will help prevent the root damage which often occurs when plants are left sitting in undrained water. Unglazed clay pots can also be placed inside of more decorative containers; just include a layer of pebbles or shards of broken clay pots at the bottom of the decorative container to ensure adequate drainage.