Well-stocked flower pots can look amazing, but do you know how to get one ready for your plants? If you don’t prepare a flower pot correctly, you might end up with some sickly plants. Fortunately, it’s very easy to prep and plant up a flower pot. Here’s what you need to know:
How to prepare a flower pot for planting
When you’ve chosen your flower pot, follow these simple steps to creating a homely haven for your plants:
1. Check for drainage holes
It’s very important for flower pots to be able to drain. If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, you’ll either have to make some or get a new pot. Drainage holes are essential for keeping your plant’s roots healthy.
If a pot doesn’t have drainage holes, the water has nowhere to go. If you give it too much water, it will simply stand in the pot and drown your plant in the process. Even though most plant roots don’t like to dry out completely, they generally don’t tolerate standing water.
Roots also need some air to stay healthy. The tiny air pockets in the soil are usually perfect for the job. If these pockets are always filled with water, the roots will eventually rot and die due to a lack of oxygen.
2. Clean the pot
Whether you’ve bought new flower pots or are reusing old ones, you’ll need to clean them properly before use. Flower pots can be the perfect breeding ground for pests and diseases and old plant pots with a layer of soil in them are the worst when it comes to pests and diseases.
Fortunately, cleaning pots is easy. Use a mild biodegradable soap and some mildly warm water. Take a brush and thoroughly scrub away any remaining dirt on the in and outside of the pot. Rinse and let it dry in the sun. Once dry, it’s ready to be reused.
3. Line the pot if required
Some pots aren’t great at retaining water or get damaged by moisture. These include wooden and terracotta pots. To prevent excess moisture loss or to protect the pot from moisture, it is advisable to line the pot.
Glazed pots don’t need to be lined but its’ worth lining unglazed terracotta pots to prevent cracking in freezing temperatures. It’s also a good idea to line these pots if you have a plant in there that doesn’t like drying out too quickly. Untreated wooden pots need to be lined to prevent rot. Lining these pots will extend the lifetime of the pot by quite a few years.
To line the pot, take a piece of thick plastic liner and press it into the pot. Make sure it fits the bottom nicely. In the case of wood, you can staple it in place. If you’re using a terracotta pot, you will need to use the filling of the pot to keep it in place.
Make sure to create a hole in the liner directly over the drainage holes of the pot to allow for proper drainage.
4. Improve drainage
You can improve the drainage of your pot further by placing large pieces of unabsorbent material in the bottom of the pot. This material can consist of rocks, broken terracotta pieces, polystyrene chips, plastic bottles or even gravel with a fine layer of mesh on top.
The mesh will stop soil from being washed in between your drainage layer. This in turn stops drainage holes from becoming clogged. The large air pockets between the pieces in the drainage layer will also allow water to flow freely out of the pot.
5. For large pots, lighten the load
If your flower pot is quite big but has to be moved often, you will want to lighten the pot. Soil is very heavy, and when watered, it becomes even heavier.
To lighten this load, fill the first third of your pot with polystyrene chips or empty plastic bottles. This improves drainage while lightening the load by reducing the amount of soil required to fill the pot by one third.
Read more: How to fill a big flower pot in 6 steps
6. Choose the right soil
The soil you choose for your flower pot is a critical element. The plant will rely on it for both stability, moisture and nutrients. Unfortunately, there’s no one soil that fits all plants. You will need to do research to determine what your plant of choice prefers.
Some plants like very well-draining soil. This means that you will need to mix your potting soil with something like perlite to improve drainage. Some plants might prefer to live in a very wet environment. In this case, you’ll need to create a soil mix that retains moisture very well.
7. Plant it up
Now that everything is ready, it’s finally time to add your plants of choice. If you’re opting to add multiple plants to one pot, make sure they like the same soil conditions. If you plant the wrong plants together, you might end up with some plant deaths on your hands.
Gently remove the new plant from its current container. If it’s bagged, simply cut open the bag and remove the plant, soil and all. If it’s in a pot, gently squeeze the sides of the pot to loosen the plant. Place your hand over the top with the stems of the plant sticking through your fingers. Turn the pot upside down and gently shake out the plant.
Once out of the pot, tease the roots out a little and plant it into the new pot. Fill the empty space left around the roots with your new soil mix. Make sure the crown of the plant stays exposed above the soil but cover all the roots, then water the soil thoroughly.
Congratulations, you successfully planted up your very first flower pot! Now that you’ve done one, you can confidently do more. Every time it should become a bit easier until it’s second nature to you.
Happy container gardening!
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