How to Care for Potted Plants

Pink flowers and other plants potted in 3 planters

Planters are perfect for adding color to a patio space outdoors. Or for bringing a natural feel indoors by adding greenery to an empty nook in your living room. But potted plants require more attention than those grown in the ground. So here’s a look at how to care for potted plants.

Where Will You Place Your Planters?

Your first step in caring for plants is knowing where to place them. Plants have different light needs. And understanding those needs is critical for gardening success.

For example, marigolds require full sun (six hours) to grow and flower properly. Place them in a shady location, and they might grow, but they’ll likely get spindly and set fewer flowers.

A gray set of 3 rubi square planters with green plants in front of a windowThe same holds for shade-lovers, like impatiens. They’re happy with four hours of sun, preferably early morning. Place them in full sun, and you’ll have to water them continuously to keep them vibrant.

Light conditions apply equally indoors. You need to place sun-loving plants in a sunny location and shade-loving plants in less bright conditions. However, the upside to indoor plants is that you won’t have to contest with a baking sun that can dry your planters by day’s end.

The beauty of planters is that if you make a mistake or your plant isn’t doing well in its current location, you can always move it to create a preferable growing environment.

Give Special Consideration to the Soil

Tip number one is never to use garden soil in a planter. So, don’t go outside, and dig up some ground from your yard for your container. It won’t work because the soil is too heavy and will suffocate your plants in the planter. Moreover, you don’t know what’s in the soil, like weeds or detrimental chemicals.

You need to use soil designed for planters. Interestingly, you want a soilless mix. Why? Because it will provide drainage, hold moisture, aerate your plant’s roots, and give them room to grow.

As a result, look for potting soil with vermiculite or perlite for improved drainage. Other options include peat moss or coconut fiber. Of course, you can create your own mix. But any nursery, garden, or home center always carries potting soil.

Watering and Drainage

Watering and drainage go hand-in-hand. So start by making sure your planter has drainage

holes. That’s especially true with outdoor planters. You never know when you’ll have a day or two of extended showers.

Without drainage, your plants will get waterlogged. And that leads to root rot, ultimately killing your plants.

You don’t have weather concerns with indoor plants. As a result, you can elect to use planters without drain

holes. However, it’s essential you don’t overwater your plants or can create the same concern, root rot.

Learn about our patented sub-irrigated Water-Minder™ self-watering reservoir that keeps your plants green and lush. Included with all our Artstone planters 5½" and larger.

How Often Should I Water?

How often you water depends on several factors – your planter’s size, type of plant, weather, location, etc. For example, large containers typically require less frequent watering. Even the planter material can impact watering frequency, as more porous containers like terracotta may require more watering than resin planters that retain water.

For outdoor plants, the weather conditions dictate how frequently you’ll need to water. For example, in late summer, the sun gets scorching. Couple that will less frequent rain, and you may need to water a couple of times a day.

Of course, you can remove worries about when or how much to water with self-watering planters. They do the work for you, ensuring plants get the water they need for optimal growth.

How to Water Your Planters

A person using a red half-gallon watering can to water their roses in a gray ella flower box on an outdoor table

Start by checking the soil regularly. You can stick your finger in the soil up to your first knuckle. If the soil feels dry, it’s time to water. Invest in a moisture meter if you aren’t comfortable detecting whether the soil is dry. It will do the job for you.

The next big tip is that when you water, water thoroughly. Watering until you see it come out of the drainage hole is a good idea. Focus on watering deeply rather than giving plants frequent but light waterings.

For outdoor plants, it’s best to water in the morning. Doing so allows the moisture on the plant’s foliage to evaporate before evening. That’s essential because wet leaves on plants at night can lead to unwanted plant diseases like powdery mildew or leaf spot.

Fertilizing Plants

Plants burn through nutrients quickly in planters. In addition, nutrients escape with water through the drainage holes. So, you’ll need to fertilize your plants every few weeks.

For best results, consider a slow-release fertilizer. Optionally, liquid fertilizers work well when used every two weeks during the growing season.

When in doubt, use a balanced fertilizer with equal parts of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P), and Potassium (K). Each plays a crucial role in your plant’s health. And each impacts your plants differently:

  • Nitrogen: It gives plants green color and energy to produce new tissues, especially leafy ones. A tell-tale sign of a lack of nitrogen is yellow, pale green leaves.
  • Phosphorous: Phosphorous promotes root growth and seed production. It also sets buds and flowers. So, to increase flower output, look for a fertilizer with higher phosphorous levels.
  • Potassium: This nutrient promotes overall vigor, including metabolic activities, disease resistance, and carbohydrate production. Plants low in K may be stunted and produce lower yields.

Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging. Note that indoor plants typically require less frequent fertilizing than outdoor plants.

Pruning Your Plants

It can be a chore, but pruning and deadheading are essential for promoting healthy growth and extending the bloom time of your plants.Woman tending to plants in a black grecian urn planter

  • Pruning has several benefits:
  • It helps your plant divert its energy into new growth.
  • Removing decaying leaves and flowers discourages pests and diseases.
  • You can improve the plant’s visual appeal and balance.
  • It prevents plants from getting straggly or leggy.
  • You can control the plant’s growth and prevent it from becoming too large for the planter.

Benefits of Deadheading

Deadheading makes your plants and planters look nicer. But it has other benefits.

First, it prevents seed formation. Otherwise, plants can self-sow, so you’ll wind up with plants you don’t want.

Second, it helps conserve energy. For example, removing dead blooms directs the plant’s energy to improve its health. As a result, your plants will look fuller and lusher.

Most importantly, it encourages your plants to set more flower beds. Otherwise, the flowers will mature, go to seed, and not fail to set other flower buds. That keeps your plants blooming throughout the season.

When deadheading, you can prune, pinch, or shear the flowers.

Pest Control

The good news is that container plants have fewer insect and disease concerns. That’s because they’re grown in a quality soil mix. In addition, gardeners tend to inspect potted plants more frequently.

However, that doesn’t mean you’re off the hook. It’s still important to check your potted plants for common pests like aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. In addition, you can use natural remedies like neem oil or insecticidal soap to control infestations.

Controlling Plant Diseases

The healthier your plants are, the less likely they’ll attract diseases. Still, you can run into some of these common concerns:

  • Crown and stem rot
  • Grey mold
  • White mold
  • Powdery mildew
  • Rust
  • Sooty mold
  • Verticillium wilt

Often these concerns stem from wet environments. So as mentioned, it’s best to water in the morning to give the plant foliage time to dry before nightfall.

If you encounter plant diseases, use a fungicide as soon as the illness strikes. You can also take preventative measures using disease-control products when planting or periodically throughout the growing season.

Our Decorative Planters Set the Stage

So there you have it. Now, you have a much better idea of how to grow healthy, great-looking plants in containers.

And while at it, why not set the stage by getting some decorative planters to complement your greenery? Root & Vessel offers a host of planters to enhance your garden scapes.

You can choose from traditional round and square planters. Or add some flair to your deck with railing planters. Want to dress up a tired window? Check out our flower window boxes.

Many of our planters are self-watering. For example, our broad offering of Artstone resin planters features self-irrigation so you can remove your watering worries. They also include a unique marbled finish for added appeal.

Whatever your needs, count on us for decorative planters to meet them.

Mother and daughters taking a selfie while sitting outside next to their potted plants