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Pot luck: Choosing the right container is a matter of balance

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By Donna M Lestage / Special Contributor to The Dallas Morning News

It's sort of like the chicken-and-the-egg question: Does the plant make the pot or the pot make the plant?

Sometimes you can have it both ways.

A potter friend made us a pair of beautiful green flowerpots for our wedding to enhance our then-pastel décor. During the first couple of years, many plants in 6-inch plastic pots were dropped in the pottery. They looked OK.

Then a gardener friend gave me her 'Infra Red' syngonium when she retired. I put the pink-and-green-leafed plant in one of the green pots. Wow! The perfect match.

The plant made the pot. Matching the right pot and plant makes a difference.

For instance, Smith & Hawken sells a planter that's a concrete statue of a human head. An upright spathiphyllum growing in it would be a visual disaster, but ivy cascading from the cranium creates garden whimsy. No roots showing here.

The shape, color and material used to make the container work not only with the plant, but the room décor as well.

An urn is a welcome home to orchids, bromeliads and ivy and adds a formal look.

Be creative when it comes to choosing containers. Remove the lid from your favorite shallow bowl and use it to force bulbs. Paperwhite narcissus towering over a flea market find will make it seem priceless.

Because it's autumn, retailers are offering more flowerpots in seasonal colors such as mustard, rust and burgundy. The supply of the pastel tones of Easter will be short or out of sight until after the first of the year. The closer we move to the holidays, you'll find silver and gold added to the palette.

Some pots have a special reason for being, such as bonsai and orchid pots, and it's important to know how to use them.

Orchid pots have additional holes or slits for extra drainage and aeration favored by epiphytic orchids.

Bonsai pots are shallow and available in various sizes for the many ages of bonsai.

Cachepots are the containers you use to conceal a planted flowerpot.

Using a cachepot makes your indoor gardening flexible. Many people change the color of their plant containers with the seasons as regularly as they change their wardrobe from summer to winter.

Replicas of ancient Chinese water carriers are showing up in Dallas shops.

Like their predecessors, these water carriers are loosely constructed. By soaking them in water, the teak expands so the bucket holds water. Put your imagination to work and create a mini water garden in the carrier.

A word about maintenance: A pot must have a drainage hole if you're going to plant directly into it. And when you're using a cachepot, remove your plant and water it in the sink. Allowing it to drain will prevent rotting. Many plants don't like wet feet.

Donna Lestage is a Dallas free-lance writer.

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