Boring Containers? 5 Tips for Buying the HOTTEST Pots!

"POTS" Sign at Aw PotteryTeam Fine Foliage loves to give you lots of juicy photos and information on designing with foliage in the garden and in containers. But, great containers are quite the investment aren’t they? So, this week we’re giving you tips for making the most of your container choice dollars for your future Fine Foliage designs.

BOLD Citrus Color Container Grouping

Not everyone goes for these BOLD citrus bright colors in the landscape, but you have to admit, they show off that foliage in a fun and modern way!

Many people choose to play it safe with container colors like beige, gray or even the MOST exciting option, “greige”. Sigh….a designers dream. But, I’m here to tell you that there is a whole world of options for dazzling container shapes and colors to try!

Containers for sale at Flora Grubb in San Francisco.

Containers for sale at Flora Grubb in San Francisco.

I speak all over the country and in Canada and one of the TOP questions I get from both individual gardening enthusiasts, professionals and even garden centers is “Where do YOU find your containers?” Luckily, these days it is getting much easier, but for many, even a simple, not that exciting container can be SO expensive due to shipping costs. Access has changed even in just the last few years to include many more options for people than used to exist. Though for lightweight and better quality fiberglass containers, the cost can be prohibitive at times. This is why thinking and planning your purchase carefully is important.

A warehouse full of container options to try out!

A warehouse full of container options to try out!

So, here is just the nudge you might need to start keeping your eyes open for new containers for your landscape. Even if you wait until the fall clearance sales, the key is to be ready to POUNCE when you find the container or multiple containers that make your heart sing. And THAT my friends is truly the key. You NEED to fall in lust with a container for your environment and design aesthetic that will make your design senses soar with nothing in the darn thing. If it sits there as an ornament in the garden or on the patio with nothing in it and you STILL love to gaze at it, then you have your winner winner, chicken dinner! 🙂

More containers displayed expertly at Flora Grubb in San Francisco.

More containers displayed expertly at Flora Grubb in San Francisco.

I purchased a container at a local hardware store here in the NW, completely unplanned a few years ago. It was at the end of summer, the clearance sales had begun and this was a VERY random color and among a small pile of pots left.

An odd lavender colored pot that I fell in love with a few years ago!

An odd lavender colored pot that I fell in love with a few years ago!

Clearly no one wanted it because they couldn’t see what the possibilities could be with it as an odd color of lavender with reddish undertones. Honestly, I’m not quite sure I did either, but for the price, I was willing to try it on and WOW- was I glad I did!
It ended up on the cover of Better Homes and Gardens!

More "fluffy" with flowers than this designer prefers, but it worked!

More “fluffy” with flowers than this designer prefers, but it worked!

That container has ended up being one of my favorites. I have had MANY offers to sell it, but now I am in love with it and the color, as odd as it is, it has turned out to be one of the most flexible colors I have ever chosen.

This winter design is perfect for our mild winters in the NW.

This winter design is perfect for our mild winters in the NW.

The basic elements of choosing a good container for you aside from being thrilled with it without any plants in it are fairly simple, but people tend to overlook these when they are in a sea of pots. So here is a list of easy tips to remember:

1) WHERE you shop matters: Unless you have NO other option, the BIG BOX store is not where you are going to find the best selection. Neither the quality nor the styles are going to be anything very thrilling most of the time and many tend to be sub-par quality of clay. There are always the few weird exceptions, but in general, unless you know specifically what you want and you find it there. If it’s on a giant palette piled a mile high with all of the same styles, it’s not likely that you’re getting anything that your neighbors next door won’t have on their patio too. If I had a lottery ticket for every time I saw this happen!
Go to a garden center or nursery with a great reputation and you will find the buyers make a point of trying hard to bring in both quality AND style.

Blue foliage highlights these BOLD purple pots at Flora Grubb in San Francisco.

Blue foliage highlights these BOLD purple pots at Flora Grubb in San Francisco.

2) Express yourself! There is a deep canyon of pottery and container options between playing it “greige” safe and going for it with a colors that reflect YOUR personality. Don’t be afraid to express yourself and your personality with your container, playing it safe with colors and styles gets old very quickly!

These turquoise colored containers are a surprisingly flexible color to design around.

These turquoise colored containers are a surprisingly flexible color to design around.

3) If you need to keep it simple: Black containers are the “little black dress” of pots, always classy, always sophisticated no matter the accessories. I give beige and gray a bad time, but they DO have their place in certain design aesthetics, just make sure it’s “YOU” when you buy it and you’re not just thinking of the neighbors.

Black containers are universally easy to design with and EVERYTHING looks great in them!

Black containers are universally easy to design with and EVERYTHING looks great in them!

4) Look for a flattering figure: The shape of a container is incredibly important for the flexibility of your investment. If the opening, or “the collar” is too small, it can be hard to get plants out that have rooted laterally in the opening. To the same point, you have to be careful of the “belly” or “shoulder” of the pot as well. There is nothing more frustrating to this designer than to have a prized maple have to be “cut-out” from a pot that was chosen simply for style over function.
If it’s simply summer annuals and you don’t care about hurting them at the end of the season, then it’s no big deal, but if you like to mix it up a bit with trees, shrubs, perennials and ground covers as we do, then you might want to give the shape of your container some thought. I prefer taller with somewhat straight sides. Low, wide bowls are fabulous too!

A low-wide glossy black bowl shaped container is a feast of design options all year long!

A low-wide glossy black bowl shaped container is a feast of design options all year long!

These simple bright green pots are the perfect compliment to nearly any design just as black pots would be.

These simple bright green pots are the perfect compliment to nearly any design just as black pots would be.

5) Dive in and shop! When you buy good quality containers, they will last many years with proper care. But, just as important, you don’t have to live with containers you don’t love forever. You can sell them! Garage sales, friends and family would love to take your old pots. Not to mention giving them away to charities or planting them up for auctions.
Just like clothing, pottery and container styles change over time and if you are bored with your containers, you DO have our permission to try something new and exciting. You will be amazed at what it does for your creativity. 🙂
When the fall sales arrive, selection gets picked over FAST! Be ready to jump on something if you MUST have it. On the flip side, if you are lusting for a particular color, style or finish, be ready to buy at the beginning of the season at full price and be OK with that too.
Now, shop on Foliage Fans….but first….
Nominateme1
The Craftsy Blogger Awards 2015 are here and Fine Foliage wants YOUR support! Nominate your favorite gardening blog www.fine-foliage.com before January 20th to be entered to win a free Craftsy class. We are eligible for all THREE categories; content, photography (which you all seem to love ) and Craftsy instructor (aka Karen).

Click here for details and to vote http://www.craftsy.com/blog/2015/01/craftsy-blogger-awards-2015/

Thank you for your support!

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