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What Are the Best Pots for Geraniums (Pelargoniums)?

Janet has been passionately growing pelargoniums since a child. She's a member of the Geranium and Pelargonium Society.

what-are-the-best-pots-for-geranium-pelargoniums

Finding the best pots for geraniums can be tricky at times. Garden centers nowadays offer a variety of pots of different colors, shapes and sizes so to match all personal tastes, but if you really care about your geraniums, you must find a pot that your geranium will like rather than picking one that you find appealing.

After all, if you think about it, it's ultimately your plant that must grow in it, and of course, nobody wants to end up with a sickly, miserable geranium plant growing in a pretty pot!

So let’s take a look at the best pots for geraniums, keeping in mind a geranium plant’s unique needs. With this in mind, you can then go shopping for a pot that’s primarily good for your geranium, and who knows, perhaps you’ll find a type that you like too!

1. Look for Drainage Holes

If there’s something your geranium hates is having wet feet; in other words, they don’t like soggy soil. To ensure healthy growth, the roots of your geranium plants need oxygen, so excess water must be able to effectively drain from the soil after watering.

The best pots of geraniums must have drainage holes so that the extra moisture can escape out, especially if your pots are outside and it’s raining all day. If you have a pot with a little tray on the bottom to collect moisture, make sure you remove the excess water that collects in the tray shortly after watering. Generally, plastic pots have more drainage holes compared to terracotta or ceramic pots; however, they have other drawbacks.

Self-watering pots with a water reservoir at the bottom may be convenient for certain types of plants that like “wet feet”, such as ferns, but geraniums are not one of them.

Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

Make sure the pot has drainage holes.

2. Look for Clay Pots

Clay pots are a favorite among geranium growers. They are indeed often referred to as the best geranium pots.

What’s so special about clay pots? The fact that their porosity allows air to circulate is a big plus, especially for people who tend to water their plants too much. Geraniums do best with well-drained, dry soil, so clay pots are a good match for them. Their porosity allows the plants to breathe as the air reaches their roots.

Plastic pots, on the other hand, tend to hold water longer than clay pots. However, clay pots often have limited drainage holes, so you might have to drill some extra ones without cracking the clay.

In the summer, though, you must be careful that they do not overheat too much, as this may cause the roots to suffer. Another disadvantage is that large clay pots may be heavy if you plan to move the pots around a lot.

Because clay pots absorb mineral salts, they tend to produce a white build-up on the external side, as seen in the picture. This is normal, and many find the look of aged clay pots quite appealing.

Because clay pots absorb mineral salts, they produce a white build-up on the external side as seen in this picture. This is totally normal.

Because clay pots absorb mineral salts, they produce a white build-up on the external side as seen in this picture. This is totally normal.

3. Choose Pots of the Correct Size

When it comes to size, you want to avoid pots that are too small and risk crowding the roots and pots that are too large that cause all the extra soil to stay wet for too long and risk smothering the roots (the main cause of root rot).

On top of size, consider depth. You want a pot with an appropriate width-to-height ratio. If you pick a too-tall container, it will dry out fast at the top while remaining soggy at the bottom. If it's too shallow, this will prevent deep root development, potentially leading to drought-prone plants lacking proper root anchorage.

As a general guideline, if you just got your geranium from a nursery, transfer it to a pot that is 2 inches deeper and 2 inches wider so to allow enough room for at least one year of growth.

Pick pots of the correct size for your geranium

Pick pots of the correct size for your geranium

4. Pick Hanging Baskets for Ivy Geraniums

The best pots for geraniums may vary based on the type of geranium you are planting. If you are planning on getting an ivy geranium, your best bet is a hanging basket or a tall container.

Ivy geraniums are trailers, and they love to dangle off from the edge of containers. There are many pretty options to choose from.

Another option is planting ivy geraniums in window-boxes, as seen in the Alpine huts. Mixing them up can give a very colorful touch to homes as these add heaps of character.

For a more classical touch, you can try a tall urn-type vase made out of stone. Ivy geraniums can then happily dangle off the edges and provide an explosion of blooms that is sure to impress!

My ivy geranium collection in an elegant urn-like vase

My ivy geranium collection in an elegant urn-like vase

Ivy geraniums trailing from a hanging pot

Ivy geraniums trailing from a hanging pot

Ivy geraniums adorning an Alpine hut

Ivy geraniums adorning an Alpine hut

5. Avoid This Big Mistake

You may have heard about the practice of placing gravel or some stones inside, at the bottom of the pot, to improve drainage, but it turns out this is a big mistake, especially with geraniums, which have a big dislike of having "wet feet."

What happens in this case instead is quite the opposite. Rather than draining immediately into the gravel, the extra water ends up gathering in the soil right above the gravel until no air space is left.

The gravel at the bottom, therefore, does very little to keep the soil above it from being saturated by overwatering, explains the University of Illinois Extension.

References

  • University of Illinois Extension, Drainage Is Critical to Plant Health

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2022 Janet Rolla