Best Containers for Trees and Shrubs

Talk to the Trees

Trees? In containers? You might not think it possible but many smaller varieties grow well in containers for trees so long as they are suitably situated and appropriately watered.

Small trees like acers, dwarf willows and dwarf conifers, and shrubs like rhododendrons and holly look particularly nice in planters. 

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Since you will be growing your trees and shrubs outside – they take up too much space to be indoor plants – you will need a heavy planter, ideally ceramic, to avoid it being blown over. 

Wooden barrel design planters can also work well but you will need to line it with gravel or bark before adding compost as they usually don't have drainage holes. 

Ideally, you should buy a planter half as large as the recommended size for the tree or shrub you intend to plant.

Not only does this give the roots freedom to stretch and spread, but it also means you can create an attractive underplanting with suitable shade-loving plants.

Best Containers for Trees and Shrubs

#5: Keter Round Plastic Containers 3 Piece Set

With a stylish rattan-look finish and double wall construction, these planters are durable yet lightweight. They go particularly well with other rattan furniture.

 
 

Having a set of three offers an easy way to create an attractive contrasted planting area where only the foliage of your chosen plants stands out. This is exactly the design aesthetic you want in smaller gardens where color is intended to be short and sharp splashes rather than all over the place.

These would suit rhododendron sized bushes, up to acer sized trees.

Pros:

  • Three piece set, ideal for sympathetic yet contrasting planting
  • Lightweight yet durable

Cons:

  • A little on the pricey side

Value for Money?

While some people may consider the price a little high for what are, essentially, plastic pots, these don't look plastic and would enhance any patio, decking, or balcony area as well as being at home in larger outdoor spaces.

#4: Listo 16” Sierra Planter, Black Onyx

 
 

This is a lightweight, plastic container in a black onyx-effect finish. This is suitable for both outdoor trees such as acers, dwarf conifers, etc, and for indoor, artificial trees, such as silk bamboo.

It is worth adding pebbles to top the pot once you’ve planted your tree or shrub.

If you are using this Listo planter outdoors, it is worth adding pebbles to top the pot once you've planted your tree or shrub. The pot itself is very lightweight and would likely blow over in a breeze so the additional weight will help anchor it down.

The planter comes with a saucer reservoir for easy watering.

Pros:

  • Easy to water
  • Suitable for indoor use as well as outdoor

 Cons:

  • Without additional ballast, it is too lightweight for outdoor use

Value for Money?

 If you have a sheltered patio or decking area, this may well work as an outdoor pot. However, the lack of weight makes it a little bit of a let down for outdoor use, as heavier containers can be purchased for a similar price.

#3: Susquehanna 18.5” Barrel Planter

Made from red cedar wood harvested from sustainable forests, this attractive planter adds a natural eco-friendly element to any outdoor space.

 
 

The cooping bands on the barrel are adjustable; you will need to tighten them yourself once you receive your planter.

It is important to note that this barrel, being designed as a planter for trees, shrubs, and floral displays, features a pre-drilled drainage hole and is therefore NOT suitable for use as a water feature.

(I would recommend looking for whisky barrels for water features: I currently have a half-whisky barrel serving as a small pond which I established with the intention of attracting small water-based insects and the small birds that feed on them. I have some submerged aquatic plants in there, which serve to oxygenate the water. I did consider a couple of small goldfish, but, as my wife pointed out, we live in a coastal town – no sense spending money just to feed the gulls!)

Pros:

  • Sustainable wood
  • Adjustable cooping bands – can accommodate slightly larger or smaller planting

 Cons:

  • Not suitable for use as a water feature
  • Slats would be a little too thin for larger and more forceful trees.

Value for Money?

This would be an ideal planter for rose bushes, rhododendrons, or small, delicate trees such as acers and dwarf willows. With an acer, you should also be able to underplant herbs or heathers which would provide an attractive contrast.

As long as you are fully aware of what you are buying, and what it can and cannot be used for, this is not a bad price. Also, wood is a year-round attractive garden element.

#2: Stone Light SL Series 24” Planter

Cast from a blend of natural sandstone, resin, and fibreglass, the Stone Light range of planters are lightweight, yet sturdy and fully weatherproof.

 
 

These planters come in a range of striking natural colors which are guaranteed to enhance any outdoor space. They would also make an attractive planted element in a hardscaping scheme.

All of the planters in the Stone Light range are handfinished.

All of the planters in the Stone Light range are handfinished so you get an artisan look that will last for years.

These planters include a draining liner but do not have drainage holes drilled into the containers themselves. This means that, with the liner removed, they could also be used as attractive water features.  For planting up trees and shrubs, however, you would need to add bark or gravel in a thin layer beneath the liner to help with drainage.

Pros:

  • Solid, durable, yet lightweight
  • Handfinished
  • Range of colors to suit any planting scheme and garden décor
  • Could also be used as a water feature
  • Would look good as a container for a planted area in a hardscaped scheme

Cons:

  • Pricey

Value for Money?

While these containers are expensive, they are definitely worth it for durability and aesthetics. If you can afford it – and especially if you're looking to blend hardscaping and planting – go for it.

#1: Surreal Planters 12” Birch

These planters are individually handmade making each one a truly unique work of art. They are also fully weather resistant and come with integral drainage holes ready for planting.

This size of planter would suit lavender bushes, dwarf conifers, and larger ferns. The birch color would, I feel, look particularly striking against the foliage of darker green ferns, and would provide a sympathetic backdrop to the delicate hues of lavender.

 
 

These containers are lightweight yet durable, making them ideal for balconies. They would also create a striking planting area in a hardscaped space.

Pros:

  • Lightweight yet durable
  • Would work well for planted areas within a hardscaping scheme
  • Individually handmade

 Cons:

  • Although they do have a drainage hole, they can become waterlogged during very heavy rain

Value for Money?

 If you're looking for a planter that is also a work of art, look no further! Reasonably priced, excellent quality, and a striking feature for any space.