Potted plants give you the chance to cultivate the grower in you. It brings color and a touch of living energy in your life and home. The success of potted plants largely depends on a few basic rules. These plants need decent light, the proper kind of soil, the right amount of water and a little bit of love. With these simple ingredients and the following list of best practices, you can keep your plants healthy and nourished.
Here Are Some Tips on How To Care Potted Plants:
- Choosing the Pots
There are so many things that can be used as a container for plants. Your choice of the pot depends on your budget and style preference. If you prefer easy to move around lightweight containers which can also tolerate winter temperatures, you should look for fiberglass, resin, and plastic.
To allow water to flow out freely, make sure there are one or more holes at the end of your container. Inadequate drainage can cause roots to drown, resulting in the plant to die prematurely.
- Choosing the Potting Mix
Garden or yard soil should not be used as a potting mix. It can be jam-packed with insects, fungal disease, and weed seeds. A plant will respond to the difference between a soil of poor quality versus a good potting mix.
Potting soil is the right choice for your potted plants. As it is specially formulated to permit drainage within a container and to promote the circulation of air to the roots. Potting soil is also filled with minerals that nourish the plant and moisture-retaining elements.
To make homemade potting soil, mix the equal amounts of perlite or vermiculite to sphagnum moss or peat moss. If required, add some garden soil for bulk. To balance the acid level in your mix you should add a bit of sawdust, shredded bark, or lime. At last, add fertilizer.
- Choosing the Plants
Don’t disappoint yourself by trying to grow a flower-like rose which needs 6 hours of full sun – on a porch that only gets an hour of the sunshine in the early morning. The condition of your place should be taken into consideration while choosing a plant. Do some research, ask for advice from more experienced people, and choose the plant which will thrive in the available sun or shade.
You can simply use one kind of plant per pot. But if your choice is to combine various plants then make sure they all prefer the same light and moisture conditions. Don’t put a pansy with a cactus in one pot and expect them to be happy together.
- Preparing the Pots
If your plants require large containers, first place them where they will eventually go before filling them. Because they may become too heavy to move once they are filled and watered.
In the bottom of the empty pot, you can put a shard of broken pot or a basket-type coffee filter over the holes. It will avert the potting mix from washing out but will still let the water escape.
Check the moisture content of the soil before pouring it. Generally, you should add a little water at a time and squeeze the mixture with your hand. Keep doing it until the mix feels like a damp sponge.
Put the soil in the container. Fill it with enough potting mix so the base of the plant is about 1 inch from the top of the pot. To eliminate any big air pockets lightly pat down the soil before planting.
- Potting the Plant
Take out the plant from its nursery container. Place a finger of each side of the stem to support the top of the roots with a semi-solid mass of soil. Now let the plant gently fall into your hand by tipping the pot. Never pull out a plant by its stem. And if it’s stuck, tap the pots sides to loosen it.
If the roots are circled around then the plant is “root bound”. Before planting just tease gently to free the end of the roots.
Fix the plant on top of the mix. Leave at least an inch or so around each root ball if you are potting more than one plant. So that, you can add mix between them. Fill in with insignificant handfuls of soil. Eliminate air pockets by patting gently. Make certain the stem is entirely above the surface. An inch should be left about between the rim of the pot and the soil surface.
Water the container to let the roots settle in their new home. Add extra mix if the soil level drops below the top of the root ball.
Watering once a week is probably enough if you plant in the spring and the weather is not that hot. But plants will require more water once the summer comes. In summer the warm weather evaporates the moisture before the plant can have it. And plants also require more water as they grow larger. Small pots and hanging plants probably need watering twice a day and for large pots once is enough.
Keep watering your plants until water comes out of the drainage holes. That’s the way to make sure the soil is getting moisture all the way to the bottom. Don’t water the leaves and flowers as wetting the foliage could cause fungal diseases.
In the hottest hour of the day your plants and flower may look lifeless, but don’t worry as long as the top of the soil is moist. And never let pots sit in water as this could cause the root to rot and die.
Plants growing in containers require more fertilizing than the plants that are growing in the ground. And with more watering, you flush the nutrients out of the soil more quickly. The least you can do is to use a time-release fertilizer when planting. Every couple of weeks feed the plants a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer according to package direction if you wish to have happy and healthy plants.
Deadheading is essential to encourage a plant to keep producing more flowers. Plants that have so many stems and tiny flowers, its best to shear them back to one-third of their magnitude.
There are also some flower plants that are self-cleaning. Which means generally they don’t require shearing or deadheading. Some examples of them are diascia, browalia, and mini petunias. To rejuvenate blooming cut back the plant by one-third if they start to flag late in the summer.