How to Choose the Right Planter for a Client

When I first got into the interiorscape business, the really high-end commercial containers were brass metal cylinders with a fancy filigree cut-out on top.  If you know what I’m talking about, you know most were transformed into expensive trash cans because the metal would start to corrode over time. Luckily for us interiorscapers, plant container choices have come a long way. With materials like plastic, fiberglass, aluminum and stone, we have many quality options for installations. However, the mass amount of options have made picking a planter much more confusing for clients and the average consumer. 

One big mistake I made when more manufacturers began to supply commercial planters was showing all the different container catalogs during a customer consultation.  If the client didn’t get overwhelmed by going through all the pages of container options available in different shapes, sizes and materials, then figuring out which finish they wanted often sent them over the edge. The selection process would make them question why something that seemed so simple was so involved. 

After spending hours with my clients, several times they often postponed to think about the vast amount of choices. That’s a dangerous situation for any salesperson.  I quickly realized instead of being helpful, I was overwhelming the customer.

I had to change my consultations to not only save my time, but also the time of my clients who had much more pressing issues than plant décor. 

Now, those catalogs remain on my office shelf whenever I make a sales call. The only items I bring in with me are a clipboard, business card, and my cellphone. Here’s my current process on how to choose the right planter for clients.

For a normal consultation, the client and I do a walk-through of all the areas for plants.  Besides taking notes of space size and lighting, I’ll snap a picture. If the client or company designer doesn’t come out and tell me the style they want, I use the visual cues of the building to narrow down my selection of containers. Whether it’s a high-tech modern look with clean lines, a warm natural setting with lots of earthy finishes, or a high-end space that’s meant to impress, there’s a planter out there that will complement that space.  

One exception is if the building is under construction. At that point, you’d have to rely on the design plans.  Besides the walk-through time and a few important questions such as budget constraints or installation timeframe, I can let the client get back to their important work while I finish mine in the comfort of my office. 

Instead of having the customer sort through hundreds of planters, I make the decision for them.  Using my best judgement, I’ll pick out containers that best match the interior style and insert those containers into the pictures I took during the walk-through. I’ve found, when someone can see how a finished space will look, it gives them much more confidence in their purchase. When a vendor makes it easy for me to copy a clean image of their container, that makes creating quotes much easier.

Find photos of NewPro products with transparent backgrounds here.

Even though I always ask for a customer’s price range, I rarely get a definite number.  Since container prices can vary greatly, I tend to create proposals that fall into three categories: an economic/low end, mid-range and then an up-scale/expensive design. 

Planter materials have improved dramatically from brass, terracotta and ceramic. If a client absolutely insists on using one of these containers which are prone to leaking, I make sure to use a reliable plastic liner on the inside along with floor protectors on the bottom. I also add a clause in the contract that the client accepts the risks of floor damage from those materials. 

From the time I started in this business, planters have come a long way. Over the years, plant pot containers have become much more durable, lightweight and easier to refurbish. As the industry progresses, I’m confident that even more reliable and attractive planter options will become available.

Sherry has been part of the interiorscape industry for over fifteen years, starting at an entry level job at North Florida's largest greenhouse and currently owning two horticulture companies. At UMaine, Sherry majored in English where she worked part-time writing scripts for a local college TV studio.

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