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Steps to Growing and Caring for Potted Plants


By Marty Ross

Potted plants allow you to enjoy gardening in a small space such as a patio or a porch. In larger gardens, flower pots are colorful sculptural elements which add depth to your landscape. Use pots to add decoration, experiment with special plants or try out new plant combinations. Here are some tips for success with plants in pots:

How to Grow Plants in Pots

  1. Choose the Right Pot
  2. There are a few things to consider when choosing the right pot. Whether small, big, lightweight or heavy, make sure there are holes in the bottom to allow water to flow out freely. If there isn’t enough drainage, roots can drown and the plant will ultimately die.
    Pots can be of any material, i.e., terracotta, glazed or plastic pots. The type of pot you choose depends on your style and budget. Other pot options can be a bushel basket, a wooden box, or a repurposed container from a second-hand shop.

  3. Pick Plants for Your Pot
  4. When shopping for plants, think about where the pots will be placed. If you are going to combine several different plants in the same pot, they must all be able to thrive in the same weather conditions. For example, plants that need sun can grow together in the same pot.

    When it comes to types of plants, anything you can grow in the ground you can try in a pot. Annual summer flowers, such as petunias and marigolds, are outstanding performers in pots. Planting vegetables and herbs, such as peppers or basil, in pots is convenient because they can be placed outside the kitchen door for easy access when cooking. Perennials, shrubs and small trees can also be planted in pots.

  5. Select the Right Soil
  6. Plants in pots grow best in lightweight, moisture-retentive potting soil available at garden shops. These soilless mixes do not have nutrients, so add a slow-release fertilizer in the root zone at planting time.

  7. Get the Pots Ready and Plant!
  8. Before filling the pot, move larger pots to their final place as they may be too heavy to move once full of soil. Begin by filling the pot with potting soil, almost to the rim, and digging a hole for the plant. Remove the plant from its nursery pot and tease the roots apart gently. Set it in the soil in the pot and firm the soil around it. If you didn’t add fertilizer when you filled the pot with potting soil, sprinkle some slow-release fertilizer on the surface of the soil.

    If you’re planting several plants in the same pot, arrange them on top of the soil first. Including a tall plant in the mix? Center it in the pot or at the back with shorter plants around the edges or toward the front. Plant a little closer than what is recommended on the plant labels. Close planting will make your pots look lively right from the start.

    Now water well. Gilmour’s Thumb Control Watering Nozzle is the perfect tool for watering plants in pots. Rinse any loose soil off the flowers or foliage, then direct plenty of water onto to the soil. Gentle settings such as the “flower” or “garden” setting will not damage tender young plants.

How to Care for Potted Plants

Here are some tips on taking care of your plants in pots through the summer.


Remember, roots of potted plants can’t reach moisture in the earth. Although potting soil retains moisture well, pots tend to dry out more quickly than the ground. In hot weather you may need to water every day. When watering, don’t just sprinkle the foliage – make sure the water is going into the soil in the pot.


To keep plants blooming, fertilize occasionally with a water-soluble fertilizer. Measure the fertilizer into a watering can first then fill the can with water. If you use the “jet” spray from a watering nozzle, the spray will mix the fertilizer thoroughly into the water.


During the growing season, encourage plants to keep blooming by pinching off flowers as they fade. This will also keep pots looking fresh and tidy. Deadheading can be done by using your fingers or with a pair of pruners or garden snips.

Enjoy your pots

Growing plants in pots is a great way to start gardening. Choose colors you love, make interesting combinations, and enjoy watching – and helping – your plants grow and thrive.

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