Pot gardening is becoming popular because it has endless benefits. It does not matter what kind of plant you are growing; planting in a pot has advantages over planting directly into a garden. How do you grow a plant in a pot? What do you need to know before you begin? Read on to find out more about potting plants.
What is Pot Gardening?
Pot gardening (or container gardening) is the practice of growing plants in a pot instead of the ground. Whether you choose vegetables, flowers, or herbs, you can grow your plants in a pot. Here are a few advantages of pot gardening over the common practice of sowing on land:
- Ease of moving plants indoors/outdoors
- Using a more suitable soil/potting mix for your plant
- Prevention of weed, pests, and diseases from your plants
- With pot gardening, you can start crops indoors before the end of frost.
- Pot gardening gives you the chance to grow crops from different regions.
With the advantages of pot or container gardening, you surely want to try it out. How do you grow a plant in a pot or container? Before planting, you must gather specific items. What do you need? Read on.
What You Need to Plant in a Pot
Pots or Containers
No surprise here. Why else is the practice of growing plants in pots called “pot gardening” if you aren’t using pots? You need to get a container of some sort if you do not have one. What kind should you get? Be aware that the size and the number of drainage holes in the bottom affect the growth of your plant.
The size of the pots does matter because the bigger the container, the better it is for your plants. Large pots have the following advantages over small pots:
- Large pots can hold more water for your plants.
- Reduced temperature fluctuation: More soil means more stable temperatures
- Holds more nutrients: More soil/potting mix means more nutrients for your plants.
- More room for root growth: The roots of your plants can spread better in large pots
- Suitable for root crops: Vegetables like potatoes, radishes, and onions prefer large pots
What about the holes in the pot? If your pot doesn’t have holes for water to drain out, your soil will stay damp. Most plants prefer well-drained soil. Before using a container to grow plants, make sure that it has holes or slits in the bottom.
Seeds or Seedlings, Cuttings or Roots
To grow any plant, you need to have the seed, seedling, cutting, or root of the plant. Some plants are better grown from seeds or seedlings while others from cuttings or the roots of the original plant.
Plants grown from seeds or seedlings are:
You can start crops from seeds or seedlings. Seeds are cheaper and have more available varieties, while seedlings have been pre-started (in a nursery) and have better a better chance of growing.
Examples of plants grown from cuttings are:
Examples of plants grown from roots are:
When you decide which plant that you want to grow in a pot, you should research the best method to start the plant.
Potting Soil or Potting Mix
Growing in pots requires a medium in which your plants will anchor and have nutrients. Some gardeners use potting soil while others use potting mix.
Some Pros of potting soil are:
- Ability to hold more water
- Availability of nutrients for your plants
- Presence of friendly microbes and earthworms
Some cons of potting soil are:
- Soil may not be well-drained
- Presence of pathogens in the soil
- The soil may not be suitable for what you are growing.
Some pros of potting mixes are:
- There is a potting mix for every type of plant.
- Potting mixes are made to be well-drained
- New potting mixes are free from pathogens.
Some cons of potting mixes are:
- Water drains too quickly.
- You might need to fertilize your plants.
- Absence of friendly microbes and earthworms
Are there differences between potting soil and regular garden soil? Potting soil is processed soil for container gardening. Unlike potting soil, regular garden soil may contain seeds of weed, eggs or pests, and might be too compacted for potted plants.
Water and Nutrients for Your Plants
Every plant needs water and nutrients. According to the type of plant you are growing, you need to water your plants daily or regularly. Make sure that the potting soil/mix is well-drained.
If you are using a potting mix or an old soil, you should provide fertilizers to your plants for optimum growth.
Have you gathered everything you need? It’s time to plant.
Planting in a Pot: A Step-By-Step Guide
1. Start Your Plant with Seedlings
If you are growing from seeds, cuttings, or roots, you have to start your plant. Seedlings are started at a nursery, so if you are growing from seedlings, jump this step.
To germinate a seed:
- Soak the seed in water for a few hours
- Bury the seed in 1/4 – 1 inch of soil or Rockwood (check the seed packet)
- Wait 2 – 8 days for the seed to germinate
To root a cutting:
- Place the cutting in ½ – 1 inch of water in a glass.
- Change the water regularly.
- Your cuttings will develop roots (and leaves) in a week or two.
Different roots have different methods of sprouting. With time, onions and potatoes will grow just fine on their own. To speed up the process of growing sprouts in a root crop, place the bulb/tuber/corm in a well-ventilated room with sufficient light.
You will need to know when to start a plant. Depending on the type of plant, you will begin sometime between February and June.
The duration of starting plants can take two days to four weeks. Seeds of beans and peas germinate quickly, cuttings can develop roots in one or two weeks, and roots like potatoes grow sprouts in three or four weeks.
2. Choose a Location for the Plant to Grow
Different plants have different light requirements. Depending on which you choose, plants prefer full sun (more than 6 hours of direct daily sun), partial sun (4-6 hours of direct daily sun), or shade (less than 4 hours of direct daily sun). You should research or ask gardening experts around you to know the light requirement of your plant.
When you know the light requirement of your plant, place the pot at a place where it will get just the right amount of light. Use a light barrier for plants that do well in the shade.
3. Transplant the Plant into the Pot
After your plant has developed true leaves and sufficient roots, you should transfer it into the pot in the appropriate location. Some plants are buried deep (e.g. tomatoes), however, others are planted in the surface (e.g. orchids).
To transplant a plant into the pot, fill the pot with soil. Then add water, mix it with the soil, and allow it to drain. While the soil is still damp, dig a hole with the required depth of the plant and cover the root with soil.
If you are planting multiple plants, make sure to space the plants appropriately.
4. Care for the Plant
Some ways to care for your plants are:
- Water the plant regularly
- Feed the plants occasionally
- Remove pests from your plant
- Cut or pinch dead leaves from the plant
- Pull all weeds as they appear
Caring for your plant is a continuous process. You must care for your plants in their vegetative (growing), flowering, and fruiting stages.
5. Enjoy Your Plants
Whether you are growing for food, beauty, or fun, the coolest thing about planting is enjoying what you planted yourself. Have fun with your potted plants!
In this article, you learned that planting in pots (or pot gardening) has several advantages over planting in the garden. When you are planting in pots, make sure that the container is the right size and is well-drained. You can start your plants from seeds, seedlings, cuttings, or roots. Make sure to care for your plants by watering them, feeding them, and preventing pests from reaching them.
Have you gathered all the needed items to grow a plant in a pot? What plant did you choose? Leave a comment below.