How to Pot Plants in Containers

A step by step guide

Now that you are ready to plant, let’s begin the step by step guide on perfect container planting! If you don’t already have your plants, pots and potting mix picked out, read our post on how to choose the best of all three! Ready, it’s time for potting plants in containers!
potting plants in containers

Step 4: It’s time to pot your plants!

  1. Before potting plants in containers, ensure the potting mix is moist but not soaking.
  2. A common myth is to put gravel or pebbles at the bottom of the pot when potting plants in containers, though this is incorrect and does not improve drainage. Do not put anything at the bottom of the pot before adding potting mix.
  3. Add some potting mix to the bottom of the pot so that your plant will sit just below the rim of the pot. Remember the potting mix will settle a bit, so you may need to adjust this.
  4. Pull your plant out of the nursery pot gently by cradling the top of the plant with one hand holding the nursery pot with the other. You may squeeze the nursery pot a little to encourage the plant to release from the pot.
  5. Gently guide the plant out of the pot. Once out, gently tease the roots at the bottom of the plant allowing the plant to know it’s no longer in a pot. If you do not do this, the roots will continue to circle and cause health issues later.
  6. Gently set the plant into the new pot and check that the surface of the potting mix has about ¼ inch of room from the rim of the pot. You don’t want the potting mix overfilling or too low.
  7. Fill the spaces around the plant with potting mix until the pot is full.
  8. Do not press down on the potting mix too much! Lightly tap the entire plant on a hard surface to allow the potting mix to naturally settle. At this point, you may add more potting mix if needed. If the plant is now too low in the pot, you may want to remove it and add more potting mix below the plant’s root ball.
  9. Once you have added the correct amount of potting mix and the plant is correctly positioned in the pot, you want to water it. It is suggested to set the pot in a basin of water and allow the water to move by capillary action from the pot’s hole through the potting mix, eventually soaking the potting mix entirely. You can also water from above but be sure the water does not have too much force as you don’t want the potting mix to be compacted. This can cause issues with root health if oxygen is not available for the roots to take up water and nutrients.
  10. You plant is potted and ready to enjoy! Set your plant in its final location, setting the catch basin or saucer below for drainage.

Here’s a video by University of Nevada, Reno Extension on how to repot houseplants. Remember, if you are bringing home a plant from the nursery, it will not need fertilizer for 3-6 months because of the fertilizer already in the potting mix that it travels in.

These same steps can be used for any container plants from houseplants to outdoor plants. Follow the steps for potting plants in containers to have beautiful and healthy container plants!