Growing plants in pots and containers offer several benefits. First, it helps you maximize space even if you live in tight quarters.
Second, it is a great way to add decorative flair to your home by allowing you to grow plants indoors, on a patio, or in the garden.
Third, it provides the flexibility to move plants indoors to protect them against harsh winter conditions. Finally, it is an effective method of growing vegetables and herbs all year long.
This article offers tips and simple steps for potting and repotting plants.
How to Pot a New Plant
What You Need
- Potting mix
- Gardening gloves
- Watering can
- Dust mask
- Decide on the type of plant you want to pot such as a houseplant, vegetable, herb, etc. Then, research the necessary conditions for the particular plant to grow and survive. For example, consider how much space the plant requires and the type of soil it thrives in.
- Select a pot. The ideal size of the pot is the next size up from a perfect fit, meaning you should buy one size up to allow for plant growth. It should have a drainage hole.
- Select a potting mix. While you may use garden soil, potted plants perform best in sterile potting mix as it has better drainage and aeration and is less susceptible to pests and diseases.
- Prepare the pot for planting. Wear your gloves and a mask. Pour the potting mix into the pot, leaving about an inch at the top of the pot. Sprinkle some water on the potting mix with the watering can to dampen it.
- Uproot the seedling, ensuring that you preserve the root and root hairs.
- Plant the seedling in the potting mix. Using your fingers, part the potting mix at the middle to create enough room for the roots. Lay down the roots and cover them with potting mix about a centimeter up the stem. Gently pat down the mix to enable it to hold the roots firmly.
- Add fertilizer and water the plant.
- Take care of the plant and monitor it closely. Water it regularly and add mulch to prevent excessive water loss. Allow the water to dry out almost completely before your next watering session. When watering, ensure to move the spout all-round to saturate the soil evenly. Aim to soak up the soil adequately without drowning the roots.
- Keep in mind that newly potted plants are quite fragile. The most common cause of death is poor drainage that causes the roots to rot, inadequate light, not watering frequently enough, overwatering or, diseases and pests.
- Look out for signs of pests and diseases and fertilize as required. The best way of keeping pests and diseases at bay include using a sterile potting mix, thoroughly cleaning the pot, and other planting tools before potting the plant and positioning the plant in a well-aerated area. As soon as you notice signs of a disease or pests, deal with them immediately. When inspecting the plants, check under the leaves where bugs like to hide.
Repotting a Plant
Repotting is the process of moving a potted plant from one pot to another.
Why Repot a Plant?
Repotting is mostly done when a plant has outgrown the current pot. You move it to a bigger pot with more soil to allow the roots enough space to keep growing.
Repotting also provides the plant with new, healthier soil. This is particularly important if the previous soil had been infiltrated by pests, diseases, and mold. Changing the potting mix gets rid of most of the contaminants. It also promotes optimal aeration and drainage of the soil.
Finally, repotting can be an opportunity to upgrade the aesthetics of your pots. It allows you to get rid of outdated pot designs if they no longer fit your décor, or to replace old, worn-out pots with new ones that have better appeal.
Signs That You Need to Repot a Plant
Below are some signs that your plant needs to be repotted:
- The plant looks too big for the pot it is currently in.
- The roots are beginning to grow out of the drainage holes.
- When you water, the water sits on top of the soil instead of being absorbed.
- The soil looks like it is disintegrating or too dried up.
- It has been more than 18 months since you last repotted the plant.
- The soil level has risen to a point of almost spilling out of the pot.
- The foliage of the plant is more than three times the size of the pot.
- There is evidence of mineral buildup in the soil.
- You can hardly see the pot as it is covered by the plant’s leaves and branches
How to Repot a Plant in 9 Easy Steps
Below is the step-by-step process for repotting a plant.
- New pot
- Scissors or sharp knife
- Potting mix
- Get a larger pot. The specific size depends on how big the plant is. Most times the next size up is ideal, but if the plant has significantly outgrown the current pot, you may need to go two or three sizes up. Ensure that the pot has drainage holes.
- Cover the drainage hole with a coffee filter or porous rocks.
- Add new potting mix to the new pot.
- Water the plant in its old pot. This step helps to keep the roots together.
- Carefully remove the plant from the old pot. Do not pull the plant out of the pot. Rather, place your hand on top of the soil, and turn the pot upside down. Gently move the plant side to side to loosen it from the pot. If it’s still firmly holding on to the pot, insert a sharp knife between the soil and the walls of the pot. Rotate the knife around the inner walls of the pot until the root ball comes out.
- The goal when repotting a new plant is to minimize transplant shock by causing a minimal disturbance on the root system. This way, the plant will have a greater chance of survival in the new pot, as long as you keep taking care of it.
- Prep the root ball for transplanting. Prune and detangle old roots. Don’t worry, new root hairs will develop in the new pot. Get rid of dried leaves and broken branches.
- Lay the root ball in the new pot. Position it at the center of the pot and fill the extra space with new potting mix. Then, water it.
- Decorate the pot. If you would like, add a decorative touch to the new pot by placing it in a basket or a plant stand.
- Continue to take care of your plant. In the first few weeks after repotting, the plant will require additional care. Water it more frequently than you did when it was in the old pot. It requires extra water for the roots to grow and re-establish in the new pot. Frequent watering will also enable the new potting mix to settle and bind with the old mix. In the first month, do not apply fertilizer and keep the plant away from direct sunlight.
Growing plants in containers are relatively easy and convenient. Whether you want to pot a new plant or repot an old plant, the steps above will ensure you have a successful outcome. Ultimately, proper care of the plants ensures that they survive and thrive after being potted or repotted.