Where can I get indoor plant pots that aren’t hideous? Everything new is either concrete, plastic or brightly coloured and doesn’t sit well with furniture. I spoke to a ceramicist who said she doesn’t make plant pots as there isn’t enough money in them. Help!?
I hear you! I too have struggled with indoor plant pots in the past. When I search online, I am met with many examples looking just as you’ve described. I discover various riffs on a “grey matt stone effect finish”, which is really not my bag, feeling as it does cold and grim and lifeless. Lord — someone — anyone — please save us from the minimalist Scandi concrete vibe.
I come across much turquoise glazed ceramic. (I have to admit something here: I love colour, but too-green turquoise is at the top of my list of less-loved hues. Unless we’re talking about cowboy belts and bolo ties.) I’ve never been much of a fan of simple glazed plant pots, even when I like the colours. I generally prefer warm, earthy materials, both in colour and feeling.
For example, John Lewis makes a very nice water hyacinth planter with a diamond-patterned weave, which has a waterproof lining so plants can be de-potted straight into it. A few years ago we had a big old plant at home in London, a sparrmannia I think it was, which came in a regular plastic pot. We put this inside a slightly larger log basket, hiding the plastic pot.
If you have a big plant to house, large baskets can be found easily: I recommend log baskets made from water hyacinth or raffia. The homewares website Silver Mushroom sells a good, large raffia version. (Smaller baskets for small plants are easy to find, too.) I love the humble simplicity of these materials. I always want the plant to do the talking — the pot should be a brilliant support act.
This isn’t to say that we can’t give good thought to choosing pots though, and they should still be of brilliant quality. At home in the country we bring our pelargoniums inside over the winter, and their terracotta pots always look excellent in our rooms, surrounded as they usually are by books and objects.
We buy our pots from Whichford Pottery because it is local to us and I love not only the pots it produces but also its philosophy of using traditional methods and ethically sourced materials, and working with other local businesses. (Side note: Whichford founders Jim and Dominique’s daughter Maia and her partner Christine run a café on the premises called The Straw Kitchen and it is hands down my favourite thing in the Cotswolds, churning out wonderfully imaginative breakfasts and lunches.)
I bring these pots indoors over the winter, but I also often buy terracotta pots specifically for my interiors. I love the warm colour and texture of terracotta, and it goes with any kind of interior decoration. I did, however, find a painted sky blue pot at Whichford recently that I had to have for a bathroom at home. The rough, matt texture of the clay made it hard to resist.
The garden designer Sean A Pritchard also favours bringing terracotta pots inside, and he recommends, too, using a variety of bowls and jugs to plant bulbs in. I love this approach: when it’s time to plant paperwhites, hyacinths and so on, think outside the box: any kind of container can work. I enjoy using large old bowls I pick up from junk shops.
The any-container-will-do point is a crucial one: just like the log basket for my sparrmannia, a good planter will hide an ugly plastic pot. A planter, after all, is simply a vessel big enough to contain smaller ones. Homeware designer Sophie Conran’s Cirque Stripe Planter is a jolly thing with its scalloped edge and hand-painted stripes on lightweight metal. One of these on a windowsill would provide much joy.
Last, consider a jardinière, another form of planter. These are usually made in pottery, but can be found in metal, wood and terracotta, and sometimes they come with a stand. The English ceramics manufacturer Minton made many beautiful examples. A leading Staffordshire pottery during the 19th century, Minton produced a glorious mix of styles — rococo, classical, Art Nouveau . . . all very much up my street. An impressive Minton majolica jardinière might come with an eye-watering price tag, but you can bet it will be a show-stopping thing.
So, my advice? Go for rustic simplicity, or seek out the unusual and fabulous. Don’t settle for anything else. I noticed on 1stdibs a Minton yellow majolica shell planter that is so ridiculously vivid, it would light up any room like a miniature sun. I mentioned earlier about pots being the support act. I change my mind: this shell can be my main act any day.
If you have a question for Luke about design and stylish living, email him at [email protected]. Follow him on Instagram @lukeedwardhall
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