Putting a potted plant directly in the ground, otherwise known as the pot-in-pot method, is a simple way to address some common gardening challenges when dealing with less than ideal conditions, finicky plants, or simply wanting more flexibility around the appearance of your flower beds.
As long as you follow a few easy steps, you can put a potted plant in the ground. Planting pots directly into the ground affords gardeners a few more options when dealing with challenging conditions or plants and lets gardeners design their gardens more flexibly.
This article will go over the easiest method to put potted plants in the ground and cover some situations in which this method is helpful for gardeners.
What Is a Pot-in-Pot Garden?
Traditionally, when you have plants in pots, you remove them from the container to plant them in the garden. This method involves preparing a garden bed with quality soil, digging holes, and a slew of other steps.
The pot-in-pot garden is a planting method where you place the plant into another slightly larger pot and then put that pot in the soil. The technique allows you to easily remove and replace the plants in your garden without digging more holes and risking damage to plant root systems.
How to Put Potted Plants in the Ground
To construct a pot-in-pot garden, you’ll need your plants, some container or garden soil, a garden bed, and an assortment of larger containers to put your plants in.
The first step is to decide where you want to plant your new plants (due to their light requirements) and the overall aesthetic you would like to achieve in your garden. Then, lay out your new, larger pots in the spots you picked for your plants.
Taking a few minutes to sketch this out on graph paper or using a garden planning app can be helpful if you have more than a couple of plants to put in the ground.
Once you have everything planned out, it’s time to dig! Dig a hole slightly bigger than the pot you intend to put in the ground. Make sure the hole is deep enough to place the pot in the earth, with the edge of the pot completely covered. You don’t want anyone to know your secret trick!
With the pots in the holes, arrange your plants inside the pots. You might have to make some adjustments at this stage. Make sure that you slide your plant pot easily in and out of the pot in the ground.
When putting all your plants in their respective spots, cover up larger exposed pot parts with some soil. For maximum water retention and a clean, manicured look, finish the garden bed with some fresh mulch.
Other Methods for Putting Potted Plants in the Ground
While the method described above is one of the easiest ways to put potted plants in your garden, there are a few other methods there.
Some gardeners go for a more permanent version of this, only putting one layer of pot in the ground and cutting a larger hole in the bottom for root expansion. This still restricts the plant’s growth but gives it a little bit more space to expand.
Additionally, if you are dealing with root-bound plants, you might consider putting them into a larger pot first before trying the pot-in-pot method.
Advantages of the Pot-in-Pot Method
There are many reasons why the pot-in-pot method is an excellent option for gardeners of all skill levels.
Removing a plant from its pot and putting it directly into the ground carries with it a level of permanence that usually isn’t a problem but, in some specific instances, can cause some serious gardening woes.
Putting potted plants directly into the ground offers some options in several challenging situations:
Create Flexible Gardens
You can create flexible garden arrangements by planting plants in their pots in the garden. This is an excellent method when filling a garden with annual or seasonal blooming plants. With each season, simply switch out your plants for a whole new look.
Planting pots directly into your garden also saves you a lot of time and hassle when you decide to change out any plants. This is also a great trick to use for some gardeners when real estate is limited. It allows you to plant a wide variety of plants over the course of the year without expanding your garden as a whole.
Putting plant containers directly into the ground is also a great way to experiment with different arrangements. The gardener’s flexibility around planting arrangements allows playing with different color combinations, space requirements, and light requirements.
Additionally, placing a potted plant in the ground allows you to play with more challenging plant combinations and water needs, as you can put plants with different watering requirements in the same garden.
Experimenting with different arrangements can help improve your overall farming skills and prepare you for growing more demanding plants in the future.
Another perk to the pot-in-pot method is it allows you to bring your indoor plants outdoors for the sunny season.
Not all indoor plants can thrive all year outdoors; sometimes summer is too hot or winter too cold, and this method allows you a measure of control. Move the houseplants outside during ideal conditions and back inside when conditions change.
This is also a great way to diagnose indoor plant issues such as leaf discoloration or issues with flowers blooming.
The increased flexibility will allow you to regulate the amount of sunshine, water, and nutrients your indoor plant gets, which helps promote growth and good health.
Finally, planting plants into containers can help gardeners grow plants in challenging conditions or grow challenging plants. This method can help in areas where the climate isn’t conducive enough, or the soil isn’t suitable for farming.
Placing potted plants in the ground can also help in areas where plants might be damaged by extreme changes in weather, such as hail or wind.
When dealing with plants that have a lot of spread, such as mint or salvia, placing the potted plant in the ground can help you restrict its root system and control its growth.
If you are trying to grow plants prone to disease, this is another way to safely remove diseased or infested plants from an area to reduce the spread to other plants while nursing the specific plant back to health.
If all else fails and your plant doesn’t make it, this can be an easy way to replace dead plants.
Factors to Consider
While there are many upsides to putting plant containers directly into the ground, there are a couple of things to watch for when utilizing this helpful method:
Some plant pots can degrade over time, causing this method to fail. Making sure you are using terracotta or good-quality plastic pots is critical.
Stay away from any pots that say they are biodegradable. While great for disposable pots, this defeats our original purpose of keeping plants protected by the pot.
Another pitfall to watch out for is the type of plant. While this works great for annuals and flowering plants, take caution when using this method with trees and shrubs. These plants need to grow their root systems each year and will eventually become stressed by being kept in a small pot.
Trees and shrubs are better transplanted into larger pots every year or planted directly into the ground.
In short, yes, you can put a potted plant in the ground. Regardless of your gardening skill level, putting potted plants in the ground is a great way to change your gardening routine and give yourself space to experiment a little bit in the garden.
Whether you’re working in unfavorable conditions or with challenging plants, or just want to bring your indoor plants outdoors, the pot-in-pot method is a great way to put potted plants in the ground.