Potted Plants

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The easy way to pot a plant

As more people are living in apartments and town houses, garden sizes are becoming smaller. Pots allow those without a plot of soil to enjoy the pleasure and company of plants but even people with traditional gardens cannot resist having at least a few special plants in pots.
Selection of various types of potted plants in attractive vases

Potting a Plant

A pot plant consists of three items: the plant, the pot and the potting mix. Be sure that each is of good quality. The plant should be fresh, healthy and well structured. The pot should be sturdy, well drained and at least twice the volume of the plant’s root-ball. The potting mix should be premium grade.

1. Water the plant thoroughly prior to potting.

2. Incorporate water storage crystals in the potting mix.

3. Place a wad of newspaper over the base hole of the pot to prevent loss of mix.

4. Place sufficient potting mix in the pot to bring the top of the root-ball within 50-100 mm height from the rim of the pot.

5. Place your palm on the top of the root-ball with the plant stem through the index and middle finger and up-end the plant.

6. Gently knock the pot from the plant and, using both hands, place the root-ball into the middle of the pot.

7. Backfill around the root-ball with more potting mix and firm.

8. Top with 50 mm of mulch.

9. Thoroughly water the plant.

Points to remember

  • When using potting mix, cut the bag open and leave it for half an hour.
  • Always use a facemask and gloves when using potting mix.
  • Do not allow your potting mix to dry our completely.
  • When watering plants in stone or terracotta pots, wet the pot as well to prevent water being draw out of the soil.
  • If your potting mix has completely dried up, submerge your pot in a bucket of water for half an hour or else water in some surfactant such as WettaSoil®.
  • Water your potted plants often and check for moisture in the first 10 mm of your potting mix.
Posters illustrating flowers and vases


Unlike plants in the garden that can send their roots in search of water, pot plants are limited to the water in their pot. Regular checking of the soil is important to ensure that the pot does not dry out. Larger pots hold more soil and so will require less watering but the water retaining ability of smaller pots may be enhanced by the incorporation of water crystals into the soil. These crystals of starch store water as a jelly that does not dry out as easily as soil. Use a “water-breaker” nozzle that creates a soft shower effect that will not scour the soil in the pot.


Pots should have good drainage material at their base and the pot should be raised a minimum of 10 mm above the ground to ensure water drains freely from the pot.
Pots should not sit in saucers of water. This can result in foul smells and may cause the plant to decay. Stagnant water also encourages mosquitoes.


Some plants need to be periodically re-potted into larger pots. When a potted plant is showing signs of wilting between watering periods and/or roots are coming through the base of the pot, this is an indication that the plant needs a larger container. Plants are less susceptible to transplant shock during the colder months so winter is a good time to re-pot.

Water the plant prior to re-potting. The procedure will be much easier if the root ball has been pre-moistened. Lay pot on its side and remove plant. Loosen roots outside root ball and straighten any circling roots. Cut off any roots that cannot be straightened.

Replant in much larger pot and ensure the top of the root ball is at the same level as in the old pot. Build up the base with potting mix, place the plant and fill around the root-ball. Firm the potting mix as you go and then top with 50 mm of mulch. Water in well.