“Connection with gardens, even small ones, even potted plants, can become windows to the inner life. The simple act of stopping and looking at the beauty around us can be prayer.” (Patricia R. Barret)
Walking into your apartment and seeing your potted plants bloom adds a little bounce to your steps.
Believe us we know.
So when are you going to get started on your potted plants?
Growing vegetables, flowers, and shrubs in containers have become more popular. Planting in pots is the perfect way to bring a touch of energy and colour to your home and life.
With potted plants, new gardeners can also try out newer varieties before planting them in a garden.
Now you are sold on starting your own small garden filled with golden brown pots. What’s next?
The growth and success of potted plants rely heavily on a few basic rules:
- good light
- the right kind of soil
- proper amount of water,
- and of course, a little love.
Bonus tip: A mistake you should avoid is not knowing your plant, what it needs to grow and how it grows. We can help.
With the best practices below, you can care for your potted plants effectively and without extra stress to yourself.
1. How you choose your pot matters
One of the important things to do from the start is to choose a good pot for your plant. While almost anything can be used as a container for plants and the type of pot you choose will depend on your style and budget, you have to ensure that the pot you choose is right for your plant.
Size is where people can make the biggest difference in a plant’s health. Plants are often left to languish in the pots they were purchased in but this isn’t giving them top growing conditions.
Most plants quickly outgrow either the root space or the nutrients (or both) in a 20cm pot, which is the diameter of the pot that most semi-advanced plants are sold in at the nursery. The worst thing you can do is try to grow your plant in a container that’s too small.
Another thing is to make certain that there are one or more holes in the bottom of your container or pot, to allow water to flow out freely. Insufficient drainage can cause roots to drown, and the plant to die prematurely.
Also, when choosing the pot, consider the potting mix and do not use soil from the yard or garden. It can be filled with weed seeds, insects, and fungal diseases.
2. Water them the right way
Everyone knows the importance of water. As important as water is to our health as humans, so it is to the health of your plants. When watering;
- Water your plants until the water comes out of the drainage holes. This will help you know that the soil is getting moisture all the way to the bottom.
- Water the soil, not the leaves and flowers. If you wet just the leaves and flowers, this can lead to fungal diseases and sometimes scorched spots on the leaves of your plant.
- Do not let pots sit in water. If you are using saucers or a tray under your pot, make sure that you empty them after you water, or after it rains. Failure to do this can cause root rot and the death of your plant.
If you plant in the spring and the weather is mild, you can probably water a few times a week. But as the summer continues, plants need more water. Not only is the warm weather evaporating the moisture before plants can use it, plants need more water as they grow larger. The best times for watering are in the morning and evening. For large pots however, you can water once a day.
You might also consider buying a water meter. A water meter is an inexpensive tool that tells you exactly the moisture level around your plant. Too much watering will cause your plant to be vulnerable to root rot, leaf yellowing, and leaf drop. And if your plant’s soil becomes too dry, your plant will wilt and become more susceptible to pests. Get a water meter if you can.
3. Ensure Proper Drainage
While watering your plant is important, making sure that water is properly drained from the pot is also important. There is not a houseplant, or any plant really, that enjoys having a soggy root. Drainage is critical to your plant’s overall health. However, if your pot does not have a drainage hole, you can place a layer of rocks at the bottom of the pot, where water can drain from roots of your plants. You may also want to place a tray under your indoor potted plant so you can catch extra water.
4. Fertilize More Often
Because containers are more ‘contained’, there’s only so much space available for water and nutrition. Plants in containers also lose nutrition faster than plants that are in the soil, in your garden. Therefore, plants growing in containers need more fertilizing than those in the ground and you need to do this often. You can use compost to fertilize your plants. It provides good general nutrition. You can also use worm casting during the growing season and put it on top of the soil and mix it in, or around your plant.
The more you water, the more quickly you flush the nutrients out of the soil. If you want really healthy and happy plants, you should fertilize more often, feed them a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer every couple of weeks according to package directions.
5. Practice Deadheading
Deadheading is the cutting off of faded blooms. It encourages a plant to keep growing and producing. Deadheading is essential to the growth and health of your plant.
Some plants have so many tiny flowers and stems, it would be too time-consuming to snip off individual flower heads. For these types of plants, it is best to shear the whole plant to about one-third of its size. Although, it will look “rough” for about a week, but soon, you will be rewarded with fresh buds and blooms.
On the other hand, some flowering plants do not generally require deadheading or shearing. These are usually prolific bloomers covered in smallish flowers, which just shrivel up and almost disappear on their own. Some examples are Impatiens, mini Petunias, and vincas (periwinkle). However, if they start to flag late in the summer, cut back the plant by one-third, to help them grow and thrive better.