Planter Shapes Guide— Choosing The Right Pot For Your Plants

Last Updated February 28, 2021 By Bella Zinti

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Choosing a container for your new plant is an important task. While it may seem like an aesthetic choice, the shape, size, and material of your planter can have a significant effect on the health of your plant. 

In this guide to planter shapes, we’ll explain why the shape of your container truly matters. Plus, we’ll break down common shapes to help you find the perfect pots for all your indoor and outdoor plants. 

Does the Size and Shape of Your Planter Really Matter? 

The short answer: Yes! The shape and size of your planter have a significant impact on how the plant grows. Choosing the right pot gives your plant the best chance at success.

The long answer: In addition to the soil you choose to use, the size and shape of your planter change the water saturation level inside, impacting the amount of water available to your plant. Container height also affects the ratio of air to water inside the container. 

The height of the water saturation level, also known as the Perched Water Table, is the point where water gathers and fully saturates the soil. As gravity pulls water down towards the bottom of the pot (which hopefully has a drainage hole to prevent overwatering and root rot), capillary action keeps some water dispersed throughout the soil. This means that shallower pots hold water closer to the plant’s roots, while taller planters hold water further away. 

Knowing that taller pots typically keep plants drier, it’s best to use them for plants that don’t like wet soil. They’re an ideal choice for orchids, cacti, and succulents. On the other hand, shallower pots that retain more moisture are great for plants that like damp soil. Use them for carnivorous plants, ferns, and other plants that require moist growing conditions and plenty of water. 

Guide to Planter Shapes

Rectangle Planter Box

Rectangular planter boxes are one of the most versatile options available. A smaller rectangle planter box is perfect for tabletops, shelves, and window sills, while large rectangular box can be used as a focal point or room divider. While these planters can easily complement any decor scheme, their angular design lends well to modern interior spaces. 

Because of their shallow interior, rectangular planter boxes retain more moisture near plants’ roots. This makes them a perfect choice for ferns and trailing greenery. You’ll need to be careful to avoid overwatering if you plan to use a rectangular planter box for cacti, succulents, or other plants that don’t require much water. 

Round Planter

The gentle curves of a round planter add a soft touch to their environment. Their simple shape keeps all eyes on your plants, making them a perfect choice for bold-colored foliage and flowers. Minimalist round containers look particularly stylish in contemporary spaces, while classic round pots pair well with more traditional decor schemes. For a unique look, pair a Chinese Money Plant (Pilea Peperomiodes) with a round planter. The circular leaves pair perfectly with the spherical shape of the planter. 


As the name suggests, tapered pots are smaller towards the bottom and widen towards the top opening. These curved vertical lines draw the eye upwards, making this shape ideal for tall plants such as Parlor Palms, Snake Plants, Birds of Paradise, and Dragon Trees. Taller tapered pots can be placed on the floor, while shallow tapered pots look great on a counter or tabletop.

Tall Planter

Tall planters are perfect for adding greenery to tight spaces. Their height means plants sit higher than most other containers, and their strong vertical lines add visual interest and height to your space. With a tall, narrow shape, these planters are great for palms, small trees, and bushes. They come in a variety of shapes and sizes, the most common being round and square. To create a cohesive plant display, pair a single tall planter with two smaller containers with a similar shape. 


These days, planters come in every shape, size, and material imaginable. An abstract or novelty planter is the perfect way to decorate a shelf, tabletop, counter, or window sill. Because the containers themselves make such a statement, pair abstract planters with simpler plants like ferns, cacti, succulents, and ivy. 

With novelty-shaped containers, you’ll need to ensure their conditions are right for your plants. Though eye-catching, many artsy handmade pots don’t have a drainage hole at the bottom. After adding a new abstract pot to your collection, you’ll want to carefully monitor your plants to ensure they’re receiving the correct amount of water. 

Square Planter

Ranging from tabletop-friendly vessels to extra-large outdoor pots, square planters are among the most versatile shapes out there. They’re stable, practical, and pair well with most design styles. The hard lines of the symmetrical shape pairs well with other square and rectangular planters, especially in modern spaces. Simple square containers are ideal for statement-making flowers and plants that have bright colors or unique shapes. 

Extra Large Planter

For larger plants, small trees, and even medium-sized ferns and cacti, you’ll need to purchase an extra-large planter to provide ample room for the plant to grow. When it comes to an extra-large planter, materials can make a large difference. The heavy concrete, terra-cotta, and stone planters are aesthetically pleasing but difficult to move once filled with greenery and soil. On the other hand, lightweight plastic containers may not be as sturdy and stylish. While oversized pots can be used indoors, their large size makes them ideal for outdoor patios, balconies, and porches. 

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About the author

Bella has a Bachelors degree in interior design, is a master gardener. She designs nourishing outdoor & indoor spaces guided by the practice of Feng Shui.