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15 Best Indoor Plants for Shallow Pots

Have you been looking for the best indoor plants for shallow pots? Wide, shallow pots are actually increasing in popularity these days. They are easier to handle than deep containers and they come in a variety of stylish options. If you’ve been considering them yourself, this article will help you get started. 

succulents and cacti in a shallow pot

There are many great plants that can go in shallow pots, but cacti, bonsai, and succulents will definitely top the list. You can never go wrong with varieties of these plants in shallow pots. They don’t need deep roots to thrive. In fact, even as these plants grow and age, their roots remain shallow, making these pots perfect for them.

Best Indoor Plants for Shallow Pots

cute shallow planters
Cute planters by Redstone Pottery

See lots of adorable shallow planters on Etsy.

When choosing the best indoor plants for shallow potting containers, remember the ones we named above. They have shallow roots so they will do well. There are also some flowering plants that do well in shallow pots like zinnia or petunias.

We’ll look at specific plants and their care in more detail below. Basically, any plant with a shallow root system can do well in a shallow pot. This often means small plants, but it can also be a taller plant like the snake plant because, despite its size, it doesn’t need a lot of root space.

Now that you know all of this, let’s take a look at those plants.

1. Snake plant (Dracaena trifasciata)

Live Snake Plant, Sansevieria trifasciata Superba, Fully Rooted Indoor House Plant in Pot, Mother in Law Tongue Sansevieria Plant, Potted Succulent Plant, Houseplant in Potting Soil by Plants for Pets

As mentioned above, snake plants do well in shallow pots. They can grow very large and will need to be repotted to continue to grow, but they don’t need deep pots for their roots. This means you can get creative with the pots you use for your snake plants.

2. Pinstripe plant (Calathea ornata)

Calathea Pinstripe Plant - Calathea ornata | Live, Easy to Grow, and Low Maintenance Houseplant (4-inch Pot)

This is another great option that works in shallow pots but also grows bigger and fuller on top. It’s tropical by nature but does well in most average home climates. It gets its nickname from the beautiful green leaves with white pinstripes.

3. Aloe vera (Aloe spp.)

Elwyn Fresh 100pcs Aloe Vera Plant Seeds for Planting White Green

A classic plant, known for its healing properties, aloe doesn’t need a deep root system either. You can keep aloe vera happy in more shallow pots. Still, it might do best in a pot that is deeper than one you’d use for bonsai or other succulents. But you have some leeway here and they don’t need giant pots.

4. Lavender (Lavandula)

Bonnie Plants Lavender Live Edible Aromatic Herb Plant - 4 Pack, 12 - 14 in. Tall Plant, Baking, Teas, Sugars, Jellies

Another nice plant that works well in shallow pots is lavender. The flowers are very fragrant and can turn a deep shade of purple that looks beautiful. The ideal pot is 12-16 inches but when they are first growing, you can get by with a more shallow pot.

5. Petunias (Petunia × atkinsiana)

Outsidepride Plumb Pudding Easy Wave Petunia Flower Seed Mix - 15 Seeds

The bright and beautiful blooms of petunias make them a popular choice for many reasons. But what you might not know is that they are also great for shallow pots. The best pot depth depends on the variety but around 6-18 inches usually works well.

6. Pansies (Viola tricolor var. hortensis)

100+ Mixed Viola Pansy Mars Helen Seeds Blue Flower Perennial Garden

Another flower on the list because it doesn’t have a deep root system. Pansies are also colorful, easy to care for, and can do well in shallow pots. They’re perfect for seasonal gardens and you have a lot of flexibility when you plant them in containers and can move them around when the weather requires it.

7. Panda plant (Kalanchoe tomentosa)

Panda Plant Kalanchoe 4'' + Clay Pot |

Panda plant is a succulent that is easy to grow and looks great amidst other succulents or in the middle of other green plants. It has thick leaves, like most succulents, that store water and this means they are low maintenance. You don’t need to water them too much and they do well in shallow pots.

8. Roseum plant (Sedum spurium)

Cal Summer Garden 40+ Sedum Spurium Tricolor Unrooted Cuttings Fast to Root Ground Cover Stonecrop Succulents

This is a fast-growing plant that does well in shallow pots and makes a great indoor plant. It’s very easy to care for, has nice, bright scalloped green leaves, and is quite hardy. They are often used outdoor as a ground cover because, despite their dainty appearance, they are not delicate and can do very well in outdoor conditions.

9. Blossfeldia (Blossfeldia liluputana)

Blossfeldia liluputana

This is a type of cactus. In fact, it’s known as the smallest cactus, so it won’t surprise you that it does well in a shallow pot. They like some shade, good airflow, and moderate watering. They need less water in the winter months.

10. Little warty’s (Gasteria)

Gasteria Little Warty Aloe Relative Rare Aloe (2 inch)

It’s a funny name for a cute little succulent. Little Wartys are easy to care for, look cute, and do well in small and shallow pots. It has thick, stiff, dark green leaves with white spots that sometimes look like warts. It does well in low lights and it’s so low maintenance, nearly anyone can care for it.

11. Pebble plants (Lithops)

Pack of 8 Live Mini Exotic Lithops Plant One Year Old Seedlings Perfect for Lithops Starter Great Terrarium Addition (Pack of 8 Seedlings)

Lithops refers to the family of succulents that have a stone-like appearance. That’s also why they are often called pebble plants. They do well in shallow pots and dishes and are very easy to care for. Much of the plant is actually under the soil and they have no true stem, making them unique to other plants on this list. They are small and rarely get more than 2.5cm.

12. Zebra plant (Aphelandra squarrosa)

Snow White Zebra Plant - Aphelandra - Exotic & Unusual House Plant - 4" Pot

The Zebra plant is a tropical plant originally from Brazil. It’s a flowering succulent with green leaves with white zebra-like stripes. They do well in small pots and have shallow roots. They are easy to care for but like high humidity. Be careful not to overwater.

13. Pincushion cactus (Mammillaria)

Mammillaria MIX @ pincushion rare cactus seed 300 SEEDS

The pincushion cactus gets its name because it looks like a sewing pincushion. It has funnel-shaped flowers that can be red, pink, white, green and various shades. It’s easy to care for if you don’t overwater and it’s very low maintenance. As with most cacti, does well in shallow pots.

14. Prayer plant (Maranta leuconeura)

Medallion Calathea Prayer Plant 4 Inch Pot - Live House Plant, Easy to Care, Indoor Plants Refresh Your Living Space

Prayer plants are beautiful, unique plants that get their name from the oval-shaped leaves that move into what looks like a praying position in the evenings. What you may not know is that prayer plants also do well in shallow containers. They prefer indirect sunlight but can also tolerate shade.

15. Flame violet (Episcia)

Sprig & Stone Episcia cupreata 'Silver Skies'

A small plant with a beautiful big personality is the flame violet. While they do well in shallow pots, they do need a wide pot because the roots spread quickly and need lots of room to grow. They’re beautiful to look at and enjoy slightly moist soil and bright, indirect light.

Now that you have this great list of plants that do well in shallow pots, let’s take a look at some other things you can grow indoors in these pots.

Herbs for Shallow Pots

In addition to these plants that do well in shallow pots, there are also a variety of herbs that you can grow this way as well. Having an herb garden in your home can also have a practical purpose since you can use them in the kitchen or also for teas and other purposes.

Let’s take a quick look at some of them:

1. Rosemary

Burpee 61383 Herb Rosemary Seed Packet

This is a fragrant herb that is often used in perfumes, aromatherapy, and even in cooking. It’s important to have drainage but a pot of around 6-8 inches deep will work just fine for rosemary.

2. Mint

Sow Right Seeds - Mint Seed for Planting - Non-GMO Heirloom Seeds - Instructions to Plant and Grow an Herbal Tea Garden, Indoors or Outdoor; Great Gardening Gift (1)

Another great herb to keep around is mint. This popular herb includes spearmint and peppermint, and it does well in shallow pots. It needs about 10-12 inches to thrive. If you go more shallow than that, the roots may grow out of the drainage holes and the plant will not grow as well.

3. Basil

Sow Right Seeds - Genovese Basil Seed for Planting - Heirloom, Non-GMO with Instructions to Plant and Grow a Kitchen Herb Garden, Great Gardening Gift. Minimum of 500mg per Packet. (1)

Another great herb for shallow pots is basil. Like rosemary, this one is part of the mint family. It makes a great addition to lots of recipes and it’s easy to grow. This is a handy herb to have around your kitchen. While it does well in a shallow pot, you will need a wider pot to give it room to spread out.

Learn more about growing basil.

Shallow pots for indoor Plants

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With this information, you can begin choosing the right pots for your needs. Perhaps you already have some of these plants, or maybe you have the containers and you’re just looking for the right plants to put in them. Remember that the size of the plant or flower itself is not always a good indicator of its root size or the space needed for roots. You can’t determine the best pot size based on the part of the plant that is above the soil. It’s all about that root action!

All of the plants on this list do well in shallow pots, but it’s certainly not an exhaustive list so feel free to explore more. 

Best indoor plants for shallow pots
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Lisa Clark is a freelance writer who grew up on farmland, then moved to the city, and has now retired back to her rural roots. She's having fun teaching her kids about gardening, planting flowers, and collecting houseplants.

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