HouseplantsCorner is reader-supported. We may earn commissions if you buy through our links.

Can plants stay in plastic pots? 5 best plants for plastic pots. three plants in plastic pots

Can Plants Stay In Plastic Pots? (& Easy Plant Pot Guide)

Hey plant fans! If you’ve just bought yourself a new baby houseplant and you’re wondering whether or not you should leave it in its nursery plastic pot or if you’re just thinking of repotting a mature plant and would like to opt for the plastic pot, I come with answers.

So, can plants stay in plastic pots?

Yes, plants can safely stay in plastic pots. In fact, plastic is an excellent material for plant pots because it’s cheap, strong while flexible and it offers very good water drainage. Because of these attributes plastic pots are the most common nursery pots.

There are however a few drawbacks to plastic pots. Fortunately, we’ve compiled here all the information you need to know:

The answer is no, plastic pots cannot damage indoor plants. In fact, most indoor plants need to have a plastic pot to grow in.

Let me explain why:

The most common mistake and probably the easiest way to kill a plant is overwatering. Too much water will sit at the bottom of the pot and the roots will sink in it, leading to them rot eventually. 

Rotting of the roots prevents the plant from getting its essential nutrients so the houseplant ultimately dies.

The solution to overwatering is good drainage

Drainage is made possible by the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. These types of pots are typically made of plastic. They come with a saucer that is placed under them, where the water can drain and prevent the roots from soaking.

Plastic pots sustain good drainage for the plants. This is why plastic pots are usually used as growing pots for houseplants.

I’m sure you’ve heard of nursery pots – the container where the plant lives until you buy it (and sometimes after). There is a good motive why these nursery pots are made of plastic. 

They typically have large holes to support good drainage and there is no reason why you shouldn’t let your plant live in its nursery container after you buy it.

We talk more about nursery pots a bit further down in this article.

So we established that the ideal growing pots are plastic pots.

But, they are not always so esthetic and they might not fit into our homes in terms of style, hence the other types of pots, the decorative pots.

If you want to use a decorative pot that doesn’t have drainage holes, you can place the growing pot inside the decorative pot, as long as there is a bit of remaining space for the excess water to drain.

You can also put some pebbles in that space, they will absorb the water.

Next, let’s explore ideas and techniques for you to apply when you have a baby plant that needs repotting:

Should You Repot Plants From Nursery Pots?

Can plants stay in plastic pots? Changing soil and containers in plants on a table.

Many people have this eternal dilemma:

Should I repot a houseplant after I buy it?

You shouldn’t necessarily repot plants out of their nursery pots unless the pot is too small. Most indoor plants are used to their nursery pots and can grow happily in them for a long time.

Nursery pots offer a certain level of comfort to your houseplant so it might not be necessary to give it another pot, unless it has special requirements.

So it depends on the plant:

  • Plants that are easy to maintain and only need watering every other week, like Pothos (Devil’s Ivy), most probably don’t need repotting from nursery.

  • For plants that are rather hard to keep alive, which need a sparse watering schedule, like Orchids, it is best to make the pot upgrade as soon as you get it.

However, despite the type of plant, a lot of people think that repotting is essential for a good and healthy growth and they choose to do it right after they buy the plant, and they’re right. At least from one perspective.

If you want or have to repot your houseplant, the best time to do it is after you bought it. Why? Because the poor baby has been through a lot before it reached your home. A lot, a lot.

Here is a simple representation of the flow that your plant has gone through before you got it home:

A Houseplant’s Journey From Nursery To Your Home

Can plants stay in plastic pots? A houseplant journey. Representative scheme.

So given this long journey of the houseplant, you can imagine that by the time it made its way into your home, it has been through a lot of stress.

So why repot now?

Because your plant is more ready to take the stress of transplanting after you bought it than after it settles and finds comfort in your home.

Now you know two things:

  • It depends on the plant if you should or shouldn’t repot from nursery

  • If you must repot, do it after you buy your plant

For guidance on repotting and changing the soil in houseplants, check out this very in depth article about the subject.

How To Repot Your Plant After You Bought It?

Next, let’s see what are the steps to transplant your plant after you bought it:

  1. Choose a larger pot (one inch larger than the old one)

  2. If the new planter doesn’t have drainage holes, place some pebbles or charcoal at the bottom of the pot

  3. Put some potting mix in the new container

  4. Take out the plant from its old pot

  5. Prune its roots if necessary and loosen them a bit to untangle

  6. Place the plant in its new pot

  7. Keep two thirds of the old soil if it looks healthy

  8. Put the old soil in the new container

  9. Pack it gently

  10. Leave about one inch from soil level to pot level

  11. Water it and you’re done

Tada! Your lovely houseplant has a new planter. Exciting, right?

If you want to know more about how to successfully repot your plant, including a complete guide with pictures, here is an article where I describe just that.

It shows you everything you need to know about pruning and repotting.

How To Choose The Best Pots For Indoor Plants? Easy Guide

The right container for your indoor plants doesn’t mean it should only look good. Sure, we all want pots that go with the style of our homes, and that’s okay.

But what if I tell you that the right houseplant pot can actually help your plant live longer and save you a lot of hassle while growing it? That’s all true, I promise.

When you look for the right pot, you have to consider two main aspects: size and material.

As a general rule, your houseplant needs a pot that matches its size.

If the plant is big, it should stay in a big container.

If the plant is small, put it in a small container. It’s that simple.

When the container is too large for the plant, the soil receives too much water and stays moist for a long time, sometimes stunting the growth of the plant.

When the plant stays in a container that’s too small for it, it will become root-bound because there is not enough room for the roots to extend.

The size of the plant will tell you what pot size it needs.

Plant Pot Size Table Guide

Plant Height Plant Example Pot Diameter (At the top)
Under 10 cm tall Cactus 6-9 cm
10 cm tall Echeveria Perle von Nürnberg 10 cm
15 - 20 cm tall Crassula Ovata 12 cm
20 - 30 cm tall Agave Shaka Zulu 15 cm
50 cm tall Cycas Revoluta 14-20 cm
1m tall and over Dracaena Marginata Magenta 21-27 cm and bigger

Now, this table doesn’t necessarily work for every plant that exists, but it should give you a pretty clear image of what container your plant needs.

By the way, if you’re like me and you just love the style of shallow pots, here’s a top 10 best houseplants for shallow pots. You might be surprised to find out how popular these houseplants are!

In terms of material, the best pots for indoor plants are ceramic and plastic. Here’s why:

  • Ceramic pots are porous, which means water drainage is done successfully and the plant is less likely to die from overwatering. It also means the plant needs watering more often.

  • Plastic pots are durable and easier to work with.

But there are a lot of other materials for planters out there.

Pros And Cons For Plant Pot Materials


Pros Cons
Porous Generally have only one drainage hole at the bottom
Very pretty and stylish Easily breakable
Non toxic Their curved shape makes it hard to change the soil or repot


Pros Cons
Good for plants that need moisture Environmental issues
Inexpensive Can contain toxic materials
Lightweight They don’t last more than a few years
Usually come with drainage holes and saucers Dark-coloured plastic pots heat up very quickly and can damage heat-sensitive plants
Won’t break easily
Easy to clean


Pros Cons
Porous Will break easily
That vintage look Don’t usually have drainage holes so you have to drill them
Can crack in cold weather


Pros Cons
Attractive, especially for the Lucky Bamboo or Orchids Break easily


Pros Cons
Sturdy and durable Rust easily
Won't break Usually act as decorative pot and need a growing pot inside
Usually attractive Can heat up too much if kept in direct sunlight


Pros Cons
Compostable Great for starting seeds, need transplanting after a while
Fairly cheap Not suitable for big strong plants

Regardless of their size or material, here is an important note:

All houseplant containers should sustain good drainage of the water and come with matching saucers.

So, by now, I bet you have a pretty good idea of what to choose for your houseplants when it comes to containers, but how about we find out what happens if you choose the wrong container for your houseplant?

Can The Pot Material Affect Your Indoor Plants?

Yes, the pot material can affect your indoor plants. The material of the container in which the plant lives can either help it live longer or stunt its growth.

Here are all the plant pot materials ranked based on quality:

1. Ceramic

Quality: 9/10

The porous material sustains a good airflow which stimulates root growth and leads to healthier plants.

It also wicks the moisture away from the soil so it can save the plant from overwatering damage.

However, they sometimes come without drainage holes which you have to drill yourself and are they are also pretty heavy.

2. Clay

Quality: 9/10

The porosity of the material creates a healthy growing environment.

The effects of the clay pots are similar to the ones of ceramic pots.

3. Plastic

Quality: 7/10

Poor quality plastic planters can leak toxins into the soil, damaging the plant in the long run.

However, most plastic pots are safe and they don’t have the wicking effect of ceramic, so they make a great choice for moisture loving plants.

They usually come with drainage holes which save the roots from rotting.

4. Wood

Quality: 6/10

The only danger with wooden containers is that they can rot. This leads to an unhealthy growth and even death of the plant.

To avoid rotting, line the wooden container with some plastic and make some holes at the bottom for water drainage.

5. Compostable material

Quality: 5/10

The most common ones are peat-pots, which are made of fibre.

Fibre containers have a tendency to wick a lot of moisture, therefore leaving the plant thirsty for some water, so the impact can be quite significant.

6. Glass

Quality: 4/10

There is no proven negative effect of the glass material over the plant.

However, the root system and the soil are part of a growing environment that contains all sorts of bacterial communities that are essential to the plant.

This is a system that has evolved in the dark.

Because of this, giving your houseplant a transparent home is something that will not benefit it in the long run. So generally speaking, I wouldn’t opt for a glass container.

7. Metal

Quality: 3/10

The most common effect of a metal container on the plant is damage to the roots.

This happens when the metal container overheats, and this is easily possible if left in the sun for a long time.

Now you know that if it’s of good quality, plastic won’t affect your plants, plus it is cheap, easy to work with and durable.

I have mentioned a couple of times about moisture-loving plants and how they are most comfortable in plastic pots. So, let’s see some plants that love plastic pots.

5 Best Plants For Plastic Pots

Here are some indoor plants that not only are very easy to maintain, but can live a long and healthy life in a plastic pot, or in your bathroom, for the same reason – they love moisture.

1. Spider plant

Requires bright, indirect sunlight and is perfect for hanging. Keep it in a medium sized plastic pot, approx. 12 – 14 cm, in a rather cooler than hotter room and it will be the happiest plant in your home.

2. Aloe vera

Seriously, can this plant get any better? Not only has it numerous health and beauty benefits, but it is so easy to grow. All it requires is about 6 hours of bright sunlight, the right sized pot (ideally plastic) and watering every week or so. You can easily overwater an Aloe, but if you leave enough time between waterings, it can recover quickly.

3. Lucky bamboo

With this one, no amount of water is too much. Actually, it can grow only in water, no soil needed. Plastic or not, the container has to be the right size, so it can keep the stems upright. It needs low light and fresh air every week.

4. Ferns

Ferns usually get their moisture from the air, which makes them perfect for the bathroom, but you get away with the plastic pot which retains enough moisture for the fern to be happy. It usually needs low to moderate indirect sunlight.

5. Orchids

Orchids thrive in high-humidity and damp environments, so plastic pots make an ideal home for these reasons.

They also should receive direct sunlight and not be overwatered.

Here’s a trick: place a cube of ice on the soil once a week to give your Orchid the right amount of water.

Some important conclusions to draw from this article are:

  1. Indoor plants can safely stay in high quality plastic pots

  2. Different houseplants have different needs when it comes to their containers

  3. Various container materials have specific effects on houseplants

  4. Drainage holes at the bottom of the pot are essential to the plant

Okay, guys. That’s it for today. See you later, stay green!

Related Posts