A quick guide to plant containers: How to plant in pots

You might think container gardening is difficult, but in all honesty, most anyone can pull off a simple (and beautiful) plant container.

Still, you might be wondering, “How do I plant in pots?” So let’s take a few minutes to discuss how to put plants in pots in a way that keeps your colorful friends healthy, growing, and vibrant.

You need the right container.

A container doesn’t have to be a traditional pot. It can be anything, really — like a toolbox or old-fashioned suitcase. You just need to make sure your container is large and wide enough to hold your plants and their expanding roots. Typically, however, the bigger the plant container, the better.

You need drainage.

Whatever your plant container ends up being, you need to ensure that there is proper drainage (usually achieved with a hole in the bottom of a pot). So if you are using a non-traditional container, make sure you find some way to allow for drainage.

To prevent your soil from escaping out of the bottom, you can use pieces of broken pots, landscaping fabric, or even coffee filters. Some nurseries sell products specifically for this purpose.

You need strategic placement.

Sure, you don’t want to overthink the placement of your container plants — but you do need to think about it at least a little bit.

For example, will your plant container be out for display in the middle of your garden or will it be placed up against a wall somewhere?

If it will be out in the middle of your garden, then you need your primary plant in the middle of the pot (with smaller plants surrounding it). On the other hand, if your plant container is on the side somewhere, then your primary plant will need to be in the middle-back of your container (with the shorter plants along the front-edge of the container).

A good way to think of this is to consider the saying, “You need a thriller, filler, and spiller.” Or at least, that’s how Martha puts it.

You need proper placement.

Speaking of placement, you also need to think about how your plants are potted. While most people are quick to shove plants into a container and pile a bunch of soil over them, that’s not exactly the best route to take.

Rather than that, map our your plants, so they aren’t too deep or too high. Your plants should be 1-2 inches below the top rim of the container, and the rootball should be slightly above the soil level.

But let’s go back to that drainage hole for a second …

After you’ve covered your drainage hole, you should fill in the pot with your favorite potting soil and combine it with a potting mix booster like Remix. If your container is larger than normal, don’t worry about filling the entire pot with soil. Instead, you can fill up some of the pot with other items. This will help you avoid creating a container that’s too heavy to move.

If you stop with the soil about halfway, here’s a simple trick you can use to make sure your plants have enough room next to each other in the container:

Take the original pots the plants came in and place them in your container. Fill in the sides of the pots with soil and then gently pull out the pots. You should be left with perfect spots for your plants (while simultaneously ensuring there are no areas free of soil). If you’d like to see this in action, here’s a wonderful how-to video from Your Garden Show. (You can find this simple trick at 2:30.)

You need TLC.

Once your plants are potted, do what you do with any other plants in your home or garden — give your plant container some TLC.

Make sure to place your plant container in a space that provides it with the proper light, air, and temperature. And, of course, don’t forget to water!

Want to keep learning? Check out this article: When do I need to water my plants? A few good tips to help you out.

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