Hello there, plant fans! Did you know that wide, shallow pots are becoming increasingly popular these days? That’s because they are stylish, much easier to handle than deep containers and they can accommodate a large variety of indoor plants, so what’s not to like?
Whether you already have some shallow plant containers at home or you’re looking to buy a few, here you’ll find the best indoor plants for shallow pots.
The best indoor plants for shallow pots are cacti, succulents and bonsai trees. These are most commonly grown in wide, shallow pots, rather than tall. This is because their roots are shallow and tend to spread out rather than down, so any plants with shallow root systems will grow healthy in shallow pots.
Best plant to keep in a shallow pot - Succulent
Before jumping straight to the list, here is a quick overview of my recommendations:
Swipe the table!
Let’s dig in and see which are the 10 best indoor plants for shallow pots.
Maranta leuconeura (or simply, Prayer plant) is a beautiful perennial from the prayer plant family, with oval-shaped leaves that makes for a spectacular indoor plant.
Its foliage is beautifully patterned, with combinations of white, green and red colours, making a bundle of crowded leaves that catches everyone’s eye.
What is so special about the prayer plant is that its leaves stay flat during the day and then fold like praying hands during the night, and this is where its name comes from too.
Prayer plants are shallow-rooted plants, so planting them in tall containers, with too much soil beneath their roots, can lead to root rot since the water in the bottom layer of the soil will not be absorbed.
This is why the ideal container for a prayer plant is a shallow container, so all the water is absorbed by the roots.
Quick guide on how to care for Maranta leuconeura
|Light||prefers indirect sunlight, but tolerates shade|
|Water||when the top of the soil is beginning to get dry, with room-temperature water, in the morning.|
|Fertilizers||During the warm season (spring to fall), every two weeks|
|Pruning||two to three times a year|
|Repotting||in spring or summer, only if root-bound (pot-bound)|
9. Calathea ornata (Pin-stripe calathea)
Just like her cousin Maranta leuconeura, Calathea ornata is also from the family known as the prayer plants.
This beautiful perennial with oval-shaped leaves makes for a spectacular indoor plant. Its foliage is beautifully patterned with pin-like stripes, hence the name Pin-stripe calathea.
With its lovely combination of white and green colours, Calathea ornata makes for a bundle of crowded leaves that catches everyone’s eye.
Calathea Ornata thrives in shallow pots. Prayer plants are shallow-rooted plants, so planting them in tall containers, with too much soil beneath their roots, can lead to root rot since the water in the bottom layer of the soil will not be absorbed.
Quick guide on how to care for Calathea ornata
|Light||prefers indirect sunlight, but tolerates shade|
|Water||once a week in the summer and every other week in the winter, with room-temperature water, in the morning. Do not let the soil dry out. Give it small amounts of water more often, rather than a lot at a time.|
|Temperature||most comfortable with a 70°F (21°C) temperature but can cope with as low as 55°F (13°C)|
|Fertilizers||spring to fall, fertilize every two weeks|
|Pruning||simply cut the damaged (yellow) leaves with a sharp knife when they appear - it usually happens when the plant gets older.|
|Repotting||every two years|
8. Episcia (Flame violet)
This delightful little bundle of joy is one of my all-time favourites. Make sure you grow your Flame Violets somewhere where you can enjoy them every day, as they are a delight to the eyes.
Flame violets are usually small, but they can grow up to 18 – 20 inches.
Plant Flame violets in wide, shallow containers because they have shallow roots which spread quite quickly so they need lots of room.
Quick guide on how to care for Flame violets
|Light||prefers bright, indirect light but tolerates shade|
|Water||keep the soil slightly moist. Put some water into the saucer and position the potted plant on it - this way the plant gets enough water without damaging the leaves|
|Temperature||prefers cool temperatures - 50 - 65°F (10 - 18°C) at night and around 75°F/24°C during the day|
|Fertilizers||monthly if the plant is actively growing|
|Pruning||it doesn’t need much pruning, but it can be pinched back if it gets too big|
|Repotting||every other spring|
7. African violet
Just like their cousins Flame violets, African violets are these super cute indoor plants that are a must in everyone’s household because of their colourful blooms.
African violets are shallow-rooted plants so they’re at their best in shallow wide pots. Repot your African violet if it grows, place it in a wider and slightly deeper container, but try keeping the right proportions:
If your African violet is up to 8″ in diameter, place it in a 2″ container
If your African violet is about 9″ to 10″, place it in a 3″ container
If your African violet has grown to be 14″, place it in a 4″ container.
Quick guide on how to care for African violets
|Light||prefers bright, indirect light but tolerates shade|
|Water||Water with lukewarm tap water that has been sitting overnight (to help evaporate chlorine). Allow soil to dry out between waterings and never drop water on the leaves.|
|Temperature||keep it warm - between 65°F to 80°F (15°C - 26°C)|
|Fertilizers||every four to seven weeks|
|Pruning||Pruning is essential for African violets, pinch off or cut the leaves or flowers if the violet has become leggy|
|Repotting||twice a year|
One more important thing about Flame violets and African violets is that they both need high humidity.
6. Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata/Sansevieria)
With its beautifully double-patterned and tall foliage, the Snake plant is usually grown in wider pots rather than tall, for stability.
But another reason why a shallow pot is the right choice for a Snake plant is its shallow roots, spreading outward rather than growing down deep.
The Snake plant is a very low maintenance houseplant, fairly cheap and popular, quite slow to react to mistreatment.
Like any other houseplant, if not cared for properly, it will eventually die, but it will do so much slower than other indoor plants and will recover in no time if it starts receiving regular care.
The Snake plant doesn’t need much apart from constant and consistent watering.
When applying water or fertilizer to the soil, be consistent and do it all around the surface of the soil, for even distribution.
If by mistake you’ve overwatered it, and some white granular stuff started appearing on the soil, it might be mold. Check out this article to find out more about mold on houseplants and how to get rid of it.
Quick guide on how to care for Snake plants
|Light||prefers indirect sunlight, but can withstand wide ranges of light, from full sun to low light|
|Water||Water every 3 to 7 weeks, depending on its size. They like being on the dry side. Watering is the trickiest part as it can cause rotting, so the soil must be almost completely dry before watering and make sure to drain excess water afterwards.|
|Temperature||likes warm conditions and does not tolerate temperatures below 50°F (10°C). Ideal temperature is 70°F - 90°F (21°C -32°C).|
|Fertilizers||Apply all-purpose plant food every three weeks in warm weather.|
|Pruning||cut very tall leaves with a sharp knife if you want to keep your plant small.|
|Repotting||every 3 to 4 years, usually when it has outgrown its pot.|
5. Aloe Vera
This plant needs no introduction. Aloe vera is such a popular succulent in almost every household and for good reason.
It has amazing benefits for health, it’s no stranger to the beauty industry, and let’s admit it, it is just stunningly beautiful when taken care of properly.
Container wise, Aloe vera has rather shallow roots, especially compared to how tall it can get, and can become root-bound quickly, as its roots spread rapidly, so it is good to keep it in a container that fits its rooting system perfectly size-wise.
Keep your Aloe vera plant in a rather wide and shallow container, where it has room to spread, about 5″ (12 – 13cm) tall and 10″ (25 – 26cm) wide.
Quick guide on how to care for an Aloe vera plant
|Container||shallow, wide pot|
|Light||keep it for about six hours a day in direct sunlight, then move it to a slightly shader area.|
|Water||water thoroughly every 2 weeks, make it 3 to 4 weeks in winter. It’s best to leave the soil dry out before the next watering|
|Temperature||ideal temperature is 60°F - 75°F (15°C - 23°C).|
|Fertilizers||Aloe vera doesn’t need fertilizer, but if you want to, you can apply fertilizer once a year in the spring.|
|Pruning||Trim off any small brown tips or leaves, use a knife for bigger plants. Don’t worry, the trimmed tips will grow back.|
|Repotting||repot in spring or summer if it has grown root-bound or too large for its container.|
4. Pothos (Devil’s Ivy)
Pothos is a species of flowering plant, but it is more often recognized by its variegated, heart-shaped leaves.
Because it is super easy to care for, Pothos is a very common plant for beginners.
You can grow your Pothos plant in almost any climate, expose it to a wide range of light variations, as long as you don’t overwater it.
Container-wise, Pothos will thrive in a small pot that is about 2 inches (5 cm) wider than its root ball.
Pothos are climbing plants, so they won’t grow too tall, but will rather grow down.
A relatively shallow pot offers your Pothos the chance to grow thicker, keeping the vines not too long or too leggy, and it will generally look much fuller and healthier.
Quick guide on how to care for Pothos (Devil’s ivy)
|Container||small, wider containers.|
|Light||keep it in full light, but not direct sunlight.|
|Water||water once every 7 to 10 days|
|Temperature||ideal temperature is is 70°F - 90°F (21°C - 32°C)|
|Fertilizers||once every three month, only if you notice that it is not growing normally.|
|Pruning||Cut back leggy stems, if you want a fuller Pothos plant|
|Repotting||rarely requires repotting, it thrives in small pots.|
3. Bonsai Trees
Bonsai is the Japanese art of cultivating miniature trees in small containers. The fact that bonsai is a long-studied art doesn’t have to discourage growing Bonsai trees in your own home.
Bonsai Trees are unique, amazingly looking plants, that are easy to grow and care for if you follow some simple guidelines.
Firstly, with Bonsai trees you will need to pick the right tree species. For indoor growing, the most popular species is the Ficus Bonsai, as it tolerates standard room temperature and low-humidity environments.
This little tree is perfect for beginners too.
A few other things to keep in mind with an indoor Bonsai tree is light, watering and container.
Light needs to be bright, so your Bonsai tree will indulge in the full sunlight if placed right in front of a window.
When it comes to watering, there is no rule. Your Bonsai tree is the only one who will tell you when it needs to be watered, usually when the soil is slightly dry.
Keep your Bonsai tree in a very shallow, wide container. The pot needs to be made of ceramic, have a width of ⅔ of the tree’s height for oval and rectangular pots and ⅓ for round and square pots. The pot should be the same height of your Bonsai tree’s trunk, measured right above the root flare (nebari).
There are many aspects that can be mentioned when talking about caring for a Bonsai tree, especially one grown indoors, because a Bonsai tree is no regular houseplant, but hopefully, this guide on how to care for indoor Bonsai trees will make it all easier.
Quick guide on how to care for indoor Bonsai trees
|Container||keep your Bonsai tree in a ceramic pot. Width: ⅔ of the tree’s height for oval and rectangular pots and ⅓ for square and round pots. Height: same height of the tree’s trunk above the root flare.|
|Light||direct, bright sunlight.|
|Water||water when the soil is slightly dry.|
|Temperature||Indoors, Bonsai trees thrive in standard room temperature, but can withstand lower temperatures as well.|
|Fertilizers||weekly throughout its growing season, from spring to early autumn.|
|Pruning||during spring or summer, to keep its shape|
|Repotting||every 2 years if growing fast, or when root-bound.|
Cactus is one of the most popular and loved plant species, due to their remarkable cushion-like structures, or spines, colourful display and really unusual shapes. But there is more to cacti then their looks.
Because they need a fairly small amount of light, love a warm climate and are small enough to fit anywhere, cacti make for the perfect house plant.
And because they are so tiny (well, most of them), cacti live their best life in small, shallow pots.
They have incredibly shallow roots and don’t need much water to live, so the perfect pot for a cactus is a small, shallow pot.
Quick guide on how to care for a Cactus
|Container||use a pot just as wide as your cactus.|
|Light||4 to 6 hours of sunlight daily|
|Water||water your cactus once a week in summer, once every 10-14 days throughout the growing season (spring to fall). In the coldest season (late fall and winter), allow soil to dry before watering your cactus|
|Temperature||cacti need warm temperatures to survive, ideal is 45°F - 85°F (7°C - 30°C)|
|Fertilizers||Fertilize with highly diluted all-purpose fertilizer|
|Pruning||Most cacti don’t need any form of pruning or trimming|
|Repotting||every 2 to 3 years|
If you really love cacti but you’re a beginner, here’s an article that I found very useful in explaining in more detail how to properly care for a a cactus.
Aaah, the fleshy (or should I say flashy) ones – the winners!
These amazing little plants are a treat for our eyes because they are so beautiful and compact, with thick leaves and sometimes bright colours.
You can’t help but fall in love with a succulent, for me they are the ultimate house plants.
You’ll love a succulent because it is simply smart. Yes, these plants know how to survive on their own – they have thick leaves to retain water in dry climates or soil.
They make for the most perfect house plants and two of the plants we previously described in this list are succulents in nature – Aloe vera and Cactus.
A little secret about succulents is that they love company. Yes, they love living with other succulents, even in the same pot! So don’t be afraid to plant different types of succulents in the same container, they’ll thrive together. I actually wrote an article on this topic – do plants get lonely?
Quick guide on how to care for a Succulent
|Container||use a wide and shallow ceramic or terracotta container for your succulent|
|Light||succulents don’t like direct sunlight, but do need a fair amount of light, so placing it on a south-facing window will do the trick.|
|Water||when the soil is completely dry, soak your succulent completely, until water comes out of the bottom of the pot|
|Temperature||succulents thrive in temperatures just above freezing, ideal is 35°F - 40°F (1.5°C - 7°C).|
|Fertilizers||apply fertilizer in early spring and then again in late summer.|
|Pruning||succulents can be pruned anytime, but ideal is at the beginning of growing season (early spring).|
|Repotting||repot summer-dormant succulents in fall and winter-dormant succulents in spring, every two years.|
Okay, that’s all for the shallow container loving plants, but if you’d like to read another interesting article about light requirements for various indoor plants, check this article out.
Stay green, guys!