What’s the Difference Between Planters and Pots?

White chalk art on black Artstone pots and planters

If you’re not a gardening aficionado, you’ll likely use planters and pots interchangeably. For that matter, even some avid gardeners may do the same. But the reality is that there is a difference between planters and pots. And it’s worth understanding the distinction, especially if you want your plants to flourish.

What is a Planter?

The one similarity between a planter and a pot is that both serve as containers for plants. But planters afford more diversity for gardeners. For starters, planters can house more than one plant, allowing you to create a container garden.

Flowers growing in a sage green tub planter

Because they’re intended to house multiple plants, planters are typically long, narrow, and rectangular. That’s not to say planters can’t be round or square. But they generally have an irregular shape.

In addition, planters are generally used outdoors and use different materials in their construction, including wood, metal, ceramic, and plastic.

Some standard planters include:

What is a Pot?Purple flower growing in a gray cache pot

Without context, it’s easy to think of a pot as something you use to cook with. However, in gardening, a pot is usually a small, round container that houses a single plant.

Typically, pots are made of clay or plastic. For example, terracotta pots are popular.

The other distinction between pots and planters is that pots are most often used indoors or for temporary outdoor plantings.

Which is Better for Planting?

Both are suitable for planting. The key is what you’re looking to accomplish.

As mentioned, pots are excellent containers for individual plants. As a result, they’re helpful for small-scale gardening. So, apartment dwellers or people living without a yard may use a pot to display flowers here and there.

A pot’s other upside is that if you want to relocate your plant, its lightweight makes it easy.

On the other hand, a planter is the better solution if you’re looking to add substantial greenery to an area. Planters hold more soil and plants, allowing you to be more creative with your planting.

You can use planters to create a garden or landscape in your yard, deck, or patio.

Choosing Between a Planter and a Pot

If you aren’t sure which to use, here are some factors to consider:

  1. Size: Planters are typically larger than pots, making them better suited for outdoor plants that require more growing space. They hold more soil and plants. Pots are better for indoor plants or temporary outdoor plants.
  2. Root Growth: Because planters have more soil volume than pots, plant roots have more space to grow. So your plants will be healthier and more vital.
  3. Material: Planters give you a more comprehensive selection of materials than pots, typically clay or plastic. Often, that more comprehensive selection leads to more design options for planters. In addition, clay pots are less durable than the materials used to create planters. Most planters use UV-resistant materials that are more resistant to cracking, fading, or rusting.
  4. Drainage: Most often, pots have drainage holes. However, many planters lack drainage holes. Therefore, you may have to create them yourself.
  5. Mobility: Planters are better for a fixed location as they can get heavy. Pots offer greater mobility.
  6. Cost: As you’d likely expect, pots cost less than planters. So, a pot is the better choice if you’re looking to garden on a budget.
Planters Pots

Larger and able to hold several plants

Typically smaller and house one plant

Most often used outdoors

Most often used indoors

Made with more durable materials like resin, wood, ceramic, or metal

Made from materials like terracotta that can crack more easily

Hold a larger volume of soil for better root growth

Hold less soil, so roots have less room to grow

Higher cost

Lower cost

Greater aesthetics


Less portable

More portable

Check Out Our Decorative Planters

Root & Vessel offers a range of decorative planters to meet any design style – from contemporary and rustic to modern and elegant.

We carry a broad selection of Artstone self-watering planters made from a superior blend of stone and resin. So, they’ll last for years, even in harsh weather. And their unique marbled look adds styling to any patio or deck. Plus, their self-watering system cuts down on you having to water plants.

Our other planters are made from high-grade plastic and feature frost resistance and UV protection. They’re also shatter-resistant. So, whether you’re looking to spruce up your deck with a railing planter or add greenery to a window with a flower box, you can count on our planters to handle anything mother nature throws at them.

Learn about our patented sub-irrigated Water-Minder™ self-watering reservoir that keeps your plants green and lush. Included with all our Artstone planters 5½" and larger.