When choosing a plant container the options are limitless. You can spend almost anything on a pot or nothing at all. From hand-crafted, Italian terracotta to a tin can--whatever your budget, there is a container for you. However, there are distinct advantages and disadvantages to every container. Here are the upsides and downsides of some common and not so common materials for containers and suggestions on how to minimize those downsides.
I love terracotta pots. There is something about the color that is neutral and warm that makes almost any plant look great. The range of quality and cost of terracotta pots is huge--from super cheap to phenomenally expensive. There is a line of Italian terracotta that is exquisite, durable and frostproof.
Most inexpensive terracotta is delicate and will not survive repeated freezing and thawing. The other disadvantage is that if your terracotta pot is not lined or sealed on the inside, once filled with potting soil, it can dry out quite quickly. Some pots are glazed on the inside and this (look for a shiny finish) which can make the pot less prone to drying and more durable.
I line my inexpensive terracotta pots with heavy plastic, with a hole cut in the bottom for drainage. I also sometimes use the terracotta as a cachepot by finding an inexpensive plastic pot that will fit inside the terracotta pot so that it isn't seen. If it's not a perfect fit I sometimes can hide the plastic edge with moss.
If you live in a cold climate, unless they are rated as frostproof (most are not) store your terracotta indoors. You can leave them outside if empty them and protect them from moisture.
Stack terracotta pots in graduated sizes for a great looking planter and to maximize vertical growing space.