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How to pot a plant

How to pot a plant
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The secret to a great looking patio or decking is to choose beautiful plants and good pots. After that, you just need to take care of them. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to pot a plant perfectly:

1. Choose your plants

There are lots of plants that can be grown in containers, from small trees to bedding plants, and bulbs to climbers. You can even grow fruit and vegetables.

What you choose to plant is up to personal taste, but make sure you pick plants that are healthy. Look for ones with several stems as they’ll grow better.

Also, think about what plants will look nice together – consider the shape, height and colour. For the exact growing conditions always check the label.

2. Pick your pots and containers

Your choice of container will depend upon the space you have, your budget and what you like.

Always make sure there are one or more holes in the bottom of your container so water can flow out freely (poor drainage can cause the roots to rot, killing your plants).

Also if you want to be able to move your containers around the garden, go for lightweight materials such as resin, fibreglass or plastic. These have the added advantage of being frost-proof in winter too.

3. Sort out the compost

Do not use soil from the garden for your containers as it won’t have the nutrients necessary for your plant to grow. It might also have weed seeds and harmful insects in it.

So use a specially formulated ‘compost for containers and hanging baskets’. To prepare the potting compost, mix a handful of slow-release fertiliser granules and some water-retaining gel with your chosen compost.

4. Prepare the container

A new pot or container shouldn’t need any preparation unless you need to add drainage holes in the base. If so, you can make the holes with a drill turning at a slow speed.

If your containers have been used before then they must be thoroughly cleaned with a stiff brush and water before use. Also, soak clay or terracotta pots overnight before planting them up.

Add your compost mixture and firm it down until the container is almost full. The compost should be moist, but not wet, so you may need to add some water before putting it in the container.

5. Planting the pot or container

Take your largest plant and dig a hole in the centre of the compost large enough for the entire rootball. Firm in the plant by replacing some of the compost around the plant and pressing down with your fingers.

Continue planting around the pot until it is full. Usually, you can set plants far closer together in a pot than in the open garden.

Finally, sprinkle another tablespoon of slow-release fertiliser granules over the compost and water straight away.

Top tip:

Plants need to move to larger containers when you can see their roots through the drainage hole or the compost dries out really quickly.

For help on how to feed and water your plants, see our

How-to water your plants and How-to feed your plants guides.