The increasing popularity of industrial design means metal accents and finishes have become more prevalent. It’s a great look in streamlined, modern and sophisticated design settings. But is a metal planter the best choice for your plants?
In short, it depends. When selecting a planter, you have numerous factors to consider beyond aesthetics. These factors include location, your choice of plant, durability, and climate. You also will encounter a wide variety of available planter materials, including low-maintenance fiberglass planters.
When selecting between fiberglass and metal planters, consider these comparisons before selecting the next foundation for your greenery.
The appeal of a metal planter is undeniable, whether you’re into industrial design or not. Varying types of metals—whether bronze, copper or steel., can be attention-getters. They provide an upscale and modern look to a space. This can be especially appealing for landscaping projects in urban areas or sophisticated settings at restaurants, retail complexes, hotels and resorts. If you’re going by looks alone, both metal and fiberglass plants can deliver on this appeal.
With their natural qualities, metal planters can be a focal point for entryways, lounges, spas, poolside areas and other settings where you and your guests gather. This category of planters also gives you the option of various metals, including corten steel and aluminum. When purchasing metal planters, keep in mind the maintenance needs for the material. For example, corten steel is left unfinished and develops a patina which helps to strengthen the metal. Aluminum planters often require a powder coated finish to deter rust with exposure to the elements.
Fiberglass planters, with their incredible ability to morph into various shapes, sizes, colors and finishes, can stand in as an alternative to metal planters without any fears of them tarnishing or rusting due to varying weather conditions or exposure to elements. While manufacturers of quality fiberglass planters will provide a variety of standard finishes, including silver, gunmetal and bronze to mimic metal planters, you can also request a custom project to fit your design vision.
Suitability for plants
It’s important to consider the health of your plants when deciding on a planter material. When comparing a metal planter to a fiberglass planter on this factor alone, a fiberglass planter may be your best option. Here’s why:
A majority of plants thrive on sunlight. However, metal planters that sit in the sun will hold and exchange heat, and will often bring contained soil and plants to untenable temperatures. If you are considering metal planters, it’s important to ensure that you take some precautions. For example, you can minimize this risk by inserting a plastic liner that insulates the soil and roots from the overheated metal.
The composite material and finish used to construct fiberglass planters is UV resistant, and offers a temperature-absorbent barrier for your plants. Plants overheating and suffering from root damage is incredibly rare. Your plant is able to flourish under the right conditions, which makes a fiberglass planter a preferred choice for optimal plant health.
When purchasing a planter, you likely want it to last season after season. When compared to fiberglass planters, metal planters can appear as durable. However, their susceptibility to oxidation is the leading factor that can compromise metal planters’ ability to perform for the long haul.
It’s important to consider the variables among different types of metal when purchasing a metal planter. Corten steel and aluminum are both popular metal elements. Corten steel gets a patina and becomes stronger over time. Aluminum metals with a powder coated finish helps prevent oxidation. Made to last in nearly every weather condition, metal planters can withstand hot and cold temperatures, and heavy foot traffic.
Fiberglass planters, on the other hand, are virtually indestructible — impervious to rain, wind, extreme heat, freezing temperatures. You can leave them outdoors year-round, season after season, without fear of the structure being compromised. Fiberglass planters also are valued for their ability to withstand damage in high traffic areas, which is why they are often the leading choice of designers who are landscaping exterior and interior areas in resorts, restaurants, office complexes, retail spaces and hotels.
Ease of Use
Planter use will determine how easy it is to use a particular planter material. For example, if you’re looking to frequently rotate planter locations then weight is an important factor to consider. Here’s a quick comparison of metal and fiberglass planters when it comes to weight and maneuverability.
Though the type of metal used may cause differences in planter weight, in general, metal planters are fairly heavy. For example, a large corten steel planter is much heavier than an aluminum planter. However, compared to other materials, the weight of a metal planter makes them much more difficult to move.
No matter the size, a fiberglass planter will generally be the lighter weight option when compared to its metal counterpart. In addition to high marks on durability, a fiberglass planter is surprisingly lightweight because of the composite materials used during the manufacturing process.
As with most things, costs for planters will vary widely depending on the size and shape. When selecting a planter, it’s important to consider all factors, including location (interior or exterior), climate, and long-term durability. Here are several factors to consider when comparing metal planters and fiberglass planters based on cost.
If you’re in the market for a metal planter, you will find that a solid aluminum or corten steel planter may cost significantly more than other options. Planter size, thickness of the metal, and quality—often based on the reputation of the manufacturer—are also factors that contribute to the final cost.
Quality fiberglass planters are surprisingly cost-effective. When comparing the same sizes, in most cases fiberglass planters are less expensive than their metal counterparts.
Whether you’re choosing between metal or fiberglass planters, taking a careful look at your needs and exploring the pros and cons of each material is crucial to making a good choice for your plant designs. In either case, a metal or fiberglass planter is an excellent accent for any space.