Different gardeners have different opinions on the best way to do things. For example, should you plant your plants directly into the pot?
You can plant directly into the pot, but you will need to shave off some of the existing soil from your roots beforehand. Add some fresh potting mix to the bottom of the pot and place your plant on it. Fill around the sides with more potting mix and pack it gently but firmly.
This article will further explore everything else you need to know about direct repotting and will guide you through the correct way to pot a plant.
Which Plants Can Be Direct-Potted?
When you pot a plant, you need to consider what type of plant it is. Some plants do better when they’re direct-potted, while others prefer being transplanted.
Here are some general guidelines:
- Plants that can be direct-potted: Herbs, annuals, and vegetables are fast-growing plants that don’t mind being pot-bound. However, it’s always better to transplant them into bigger pots once they’re big enough to grow efficiently.
- Plants that should be transplanted: Perennials, shrubs, and trees grow slowly and can easily become rootbound. Transplanting them allows them to spread out their roots and develop to their full potential.
If you’re unsure whether or not to transplant your plant, it’s always best to err on the side of caution and transplant it.
Succulents Can Be Planted Directly Into the Pot
Succulents are one type of plant that can be planted directly into the pot. They don’t typically mind being pot-bound and often benefit from it.
This is because succulents don’t need too much soil depth. Planting them in a pot can keep their roots warm and encourage them to produce more offsets (i.e., new plants).
If you’re going to plant your succulent directly into the pot, make sure to use a well-draining potting mix. Succulents don’t like wet and soggy soil, so ensuring their pot has good drainage is essential.
What Happens if You Plant Directly Into the Pot?
When you plant directly into a pot, you essentially plant in old, compacted soil. This old soil doesn’t have the same nutrients as the fresh potting mix. In addition, this old soil can harbor harmful bacteria and fungi.
You want to make sure your plants get the best possible start, so you should repot them into a fresh potting mix every few months. Spring is a great time to repot existing plants.
Choose a pot that’s only a bit larger than the current pot – no more than 2 inches (5.08 cm) bigger in diameter.
It’s also not a good idea to plant directly into a pot if it doesn’t have drainage holes. Without drainage, the plant’s roots will sit in water and rot.
If you decide to plant directly into a pot, make sure that the pot is big enough and has good drainage. You should also be prepared to water your plants more often, as the roots will dry out faster in a pot than they would in the ground.
Most Plants Can Stay in the Nursery Pot
Most plants do just fine staying in their nursery pots for several months.
When you bring a plant home, it’s going through a huge transition. It’s been moved from its native environment to a new one and needs time to adjust.
Leaving it in its nursery pot allows it to slowly get used to its new surroundings. Once it’s settled in, it will be much better equipped to handle being transplanted.
Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. Some plants are fast growers and will need to be repotted quickly, while others may never need to be repotted at all.
Ultimately, the best way to know if your plant needs a new home is to pay attention to how it looks and feels. If it seems happy and healthy where it is, there’s no rush to transplant it. If it looks cramped or stressed, it may be time for a move.
If you’re still unsure whether your plant’s nursery pot is harmful for its health, read my complete guide for more information: Are Nursery Pots Bad for Your Plants?
Signs That Indicate Repotting Is Necessary
Here are a few signs that your plant is ready to be repotted:
The Roots Are Growing Out of the Drainage Holes
If the plant’s roots are growing through the drainage, this signifies that your plant has outgrown its pot and needs more room to spread out.
The Plant Is Top-Heavy
If your plant is starting to lean to one side or looks like it might tip over, it’s probably time to repot into a larger pot.
The Pot Is Cracked or Broken
Although a cracked or broken pot isn’t necessarily a sign that your houseplant needs a bigger pot, it does mean it’s time for a fresh pot with no chips or cracks. A new pot will also help to prevent root rot.
Your Plant Doesn’t Look Healthy
If your plant seems unhealthy, it might be because it’s not getting enough light, water, or nutrients.
Step-by-Step Guide on Planting Directly Into a Pot
Prepare the Pot
If you’re using a new pot, rinse it to remove dust. If you’re reusing a pot, make sure to clean it thoroughly. Otherwise, there’s a chance you could transfer soil bacteria to the new soil. Aside from clearing out all the bits of soil, you should also use a disinfectant to kill off any harmful microbes.
Add Drainage Holes
If your pot doesn’t have drainage holes, you’ll have to make them yourself. This is essential for ensuring that your plant doesn’t sit in wet soil and rot.
Here’s how to add drainage holes:
- Use a drill fitted with a 1/4″ bit to add drainage holes.
- Drill 2-3 evenly spaced holes around the bottom of the pot.
- Ensure the holes aren’t too big. Otherwise, you risk too much water draining out before the roots have a chance to absorb it.
You can also put drainage holes in plastic pots without a drill. Check out my other article to learn how: How to Put Holes in Plastic Pots Without a Drill
Prepare the Plant
Below are the steps to prepare your plant for direct repotting.
- Remove it from its current pot if you’re transplanting a plant. For rootbound plants, you should loosen the roots before transplanting.
- Gently tap and loosen the soil around the plant with your fingers and lift it out. If the plant is rootbound (i.e., the roots are crowded and cramped), you may need to carefully tease them apart before lifting them out of the pot.
- To do this, lightly massage the roots with your fingers or use a blunt knife to loosen them. This will help the plant spread its roots and encourage new growth.
If you’re potting a plant directly, you’ll need to remove some existing soil surrounding the roots. This will make it easier for the plant to get the water and nutrients it needs.
Add Fresh Potting Mix to the New Pot
Now that you’ve removed the plant from its old pot, you can proceed to fill the new pot with fresh potting mix.
There are a few benefits to adding fresh potting mix when you pot a plant:
- It provides nutrients. Fresh potting mix is rich in nutrients that plants need to grow. This is especially important for plants grown in pots since they don’t have access to the nutrients in the ground.
- It helps with drainage. Potting mix is much lighter and airier than standard garden soil, which allows water to drain through it more easily. This is important because soggy soil causes root rot, which can cause the death of a plant.
- It also helps to keep the plant’s roots warm. Soil can stay wet and cold for long periods, damaging a plant’s roots. Potting mix dries out quicker, so it doesn’t stay wet and cold for as long.
Be sure to use a high-quality mix specifically designed for houseplants. Once you’ve added the potting mix, make a slight indentation in the center with your finger. This is where you will place the plant.
You want to use the right soil type when planting into the pot. Depending on the plant, you may need to adjust the soil’s composition to ensure proper drainage and aeration. For most plants, a potting mix that contains peat moss and vermiculite will provide the perfect balance of water retention and drainage.
However, cacti and succulents prefer a drier soil mix with more sand.
If you’re unsure what soil to use, your local nursery or gardening center can help you choose the right mix for your plants. With a bit of attention to detail, you’ll ensure your plants have all they need to grow strong and healthy.
Add Your Plant
Finally, you can move your plant to its new home as follows.
- Carefully place it in the indentation you made in the potting mix.
- Gently backfill around the plant with more mix.
- Once you’ve finished, give your plant a good watering and put it somewhere where it gets bright but indirect sunlight.
Whether you should plant your plants directly into the pot is a hotly debated topic among gardeners. Both methods are suitable, but it ultimately depends on the type of plant you’re potting.
If you’re unsure, it’s best to transplant your plant to be safe. When you pot a plant, adding fresh potting mix provides nutrients, helps with drainage, and keeps the roots warm.