Plant containers are like a woman’s jewelry and accessories – finishing touches that tie a look together, says Justine Blanda-Wengrod, owner of Justine Designs, a landscape and exterior design company in Los Angeles. As part of an outdoor living space, planters should contribute to the overall cohesiveness of the design by picking up colors in other elements such as furniture cushions or the house. “It’s not just picking a pot,” Blanda-Wengrod says.
In her market, clients with contemporary homes tend to select modern-looking plant containers with lots of right angles and a metal finish – usually copper, nickel or bronze – fused to fiberglass. Blanda-Wengrod says she first noticed these types of plant containers becoming popular two or three years ago. When she traveled to Paris this year, she saw them there, too. “Ironically, as old as Paris is, these pots were everywhere,” she says. “It looked fantastic. It just gives a sculptured look that’s very chic.”
Clients with Mediterranean- and Spanish-style homes common on the West Coast often opt for glazed ceramic pots in warm, autumnal shades such as magenta, golden mustard, deep chocolate brown and rich eggplant. “Here, color is key,” Blanda-Wengrod says. Ceramic planter colors have evolved, she says, with solid colors becoming crackle finishes that incorporate
multiple hues. A brown planter, for instance, might have shades of cobalt blue or eggplant running through it. “The extraordinary color is what’s so fascinating,” Blanda-Wengrod says. “My clients are just drawn to that.” Since no two pots are the same, these planters create a one-of-a-kind, custom feel, she says.
Josh Levitte, senior vice president of Consolidated Foam, which manufactures a variety of garden containers, says customers prefer colors such as weatherized black, rusts, olives and ivories. “Earthy tones are extremely popular now,” he says. “No matter how people change their homes, those pieces will always fit.” Jodie Winters, director of outdoor living for New Creative, a manufacturer and distributor of outdoor accessories, says planters in earth tones such as black, gray, sage, rust and brown also sell well for that company.
During the past couple of years, a trend toward tall plant containers has emerged, Blanda-
Wengrod says. The planters aren’t wider than traditional ones, but are 4 or 5 feet high and look nice in corners or flagging doorways and gates. Blanda-Wengrod says she recently used several 5-foot pots filled with papyrus to create a soft wall for an outdoor dining area near a pool.
Outdoor plant containers are less decorative than they were in the past, Levitte says. Urns – pots with narrow, pedestal-like bases – in simple designs and flat finishes are in fashion, he says. Blanda-Wengrod agrees decorative designs are out. “Less is more,” she says. “In my experience, clients want something cleaner that’s more nondescript and highlights the space with color and texture.”
Lighting options give planters new purpose
Pots that illuminate walkways or outdoor living areas and uplight plants are also appearing in the marketplace. “Solar lighting is certainly the hottest thing having to do with pots right now,” says Josh Levitte of Consolidated Foam, which offers planters with solar lights discreetly embedded in their bases. You can adjust the brightness of the lights, which are available with timers.
New Creative recently introduced two urns that store solar power for up to eight hours of light. “They not only make great planters and statement pieces in a yard or garden setting, they provide light to showcase the plants during evening hours,” says Jodie Winters, director of outdoor living.
Justine Blanda-Wengrod of Justine Designs says she’s interested in lighted planters made by Dutch company Bloom. Electric lights in the bottom of the pots cause the planters to glow. Blanda-Wengrod says she’s seen rows of them at restaurants and outside big commercial buildings and the effect is “really beautiful.”