Care of Potted Plants

Whether you are the proud own a large size garden or a small garden, you will definitely have some potted plants. If you are an apartment dweller or you live a small house or you have a first floor, growing plants in pots would perhaps be your only choice.

Special care has to be taken in the case of potted plants. Some of the important aspects are given below:


Watering is most important in the case of potted plants. Too little or too much water is harmful to the potted plants. We give below a few tips which will ensure that you have healthy potted plants:

• Plant roots in pots are not able to search out water on their own you have to regularly water them.

• When watering your plants, always make sure you are reaching the roots.

• Watering the surface does little good.

• Apply water until it begins trickling out the bottom. This can, however be deceiving. If the plant is excessively dry, the water sometimes will run down the sides of the pot into the drain holes, but the root-ball will remain dry.

• Wet the soil with small successive doses of water until you are sure the root-ball is fully saturated.

• Frequency of watering will vary according to weather, size of the plant, and type of the pot.

• Try always to water before plants show signs of wilting or stress.

• In summer, daily watering of the potted plants is often required. Early morning and evening are the best times to water.

Do not, ever, water plants when the sun is overhead as this will, especially in hot summer burn the foliage.

A gardener has options to use various methods to water his plants. We list below some of the methods:

 Overhead watering:

Watering plants from above with a hose or watering can is the simplest and most common method of watering.

Ideally, the water should be applied like a light spring rain with fine gentle droplets. One way to do this with a watering can is to use an attachment called a rose, which breaks the water into fine droplets.

This allows water to soak in gradually and minimizes compaction of the soil. During summer, watering can become very time consuming especially if you have a large number of potted plants.

Bottom watering:

Some plants, especially hairy-leaved ones, burn easily and should always be watered from the bottom.

Watering from the bottom can be accomplished by submerging a pot in water, keeping a plastic or clay plate below the pot.

You could also use a wick, which is inserted into the pot through the drain hole. This acts as a capillary and water is sucked into the pot. The pot is placed is a shallow plastic or clay container, is filled with water.

Reviving a drooping plant:

At times, due to irregular watering the soil in pot dries up resulting in drooping of the plants. If proper first aid is not taken, these plants may die.

You can revive a drooping plant by setting the pot in a tray of moist gravel. If the plant is so dry that the soil has shirked away from the sides of the pot, you may have to make extra effort to rewet it.

The best way to do this is to submerge the entire pot in water for an hour or so. Air bubbles will be observed rising from the top of the soil. When the bubbles stop rising, it is an indication that the plant has received the required amount of water.

If your container is so large that these methods are not practical, wet the soil with small successive doses of water until you are sure the root-ball is saturated.

If you apply water all at once, it will run down the sides of the pot, missing the root-ball entirely, and the plant will continue to suffer.


Seasonal plants and annual flowers plants as well as vegetables will need more feeding than slower-growing potted trees and shrubs. The annuals grow fast, dilapidating the nutrients in the soil. No matter what kind of potted plant you have, fertiliser should invariably be applied only during the growing season.

Liquid fertilizer is easy to use for baskets, window boxes, and smaller pots. It is recommended to use an all-purpose flower and garden fertiliser. If you are growing flowers and fruiting plants, a fertilizer with a high potash content (for example, a 10-10-20) is recommended.

You must fertilise yore plants every two or three weeks. It is most important that you, follow the instructions for the fertiliser you are using.

For larger, permanent potted plantings of trees and shrubs, fertilising should be light, because you don't want the plants to grow so vigorously that they outgrow their pots.

Replenish these plants by top-dressing with fresh soil in spring. Add a dose of fertiliser at the same time. Controlled-release, neem or sulpher coated granule fertilisers are recommended for these plants.


To determine whether your plant is root-bound, turn the container upside down or on its side and gently remove the plant. Examine the roots for decay etc. Loosen the soil of the root ball and repot it with fresh soil.

If your plants are large, the best time to do this is after watering.

To repot a root-bound plant, prepare a pot one size larger than the current one, and fill it with fresh soil. Take the plant, still in its old container, and press the plant and container into the new soil and container.

Then lift the old container (with plant) out of the new soil, and you will have molded a spot exactly the right size for your plant. Remove the plant from the old pot and cut the circling roots from the root ball before re-planting.

Water the plant immediately after repotting.

Repotting trees and shrubs:

If you are growing a tree or large shrub in a pot, you may reach a point where it is no longer practical to continue moving the plant to larger pots. However, to keep the plant vigorous, you must still repot it when it becomes root-bound. Prune the roots while re-potting as this will ensure that you can still use the same size of the pot .

Cut the larger roots with a sharp knife or a scissor. In the new pot add fresh soil mix, place the plant in it and water it lightly so that the soil gets distributed around plant roots.

In case you are not repotting the plant, it is necessary to add new soil as top dressing every year.

Gardening Tools for pot culture:

You do not require any special tools for pot gardening. However, there a few tools that can make your work easy.

Watering can with rose:

Watering cans should have a long neck to help you reach pots easily. Large watering cans (more than 1 gallon) are heavy and harder to handle, so their design is important. Some watering cans have long crossbars that make them easier to handle. Look for a good watering can with a rose attachment on the spout so the water is delivered like a soft rain and not a torrential jet. A rose attachment also makes it easy to carry out foliage fertilizing.

Water pipes, nozzles and sprinklers:

If you are using a pipe for watering the plants, use of a atomiser or spray head is a must.

Nozzle sprinklers have adjustable spray and can cover a larger distance. These can be used to water a single pot or several pots in a larger area at the same time.


A small pressure sprayer (about 2 liters) can be used for spraying, fertilisers, or pesticides. These can be also used for washing the plants with soap solution. Sprayers that can be connected to a garden hoses are the best.

A sprayer that has been used for insecticide or pesticides should never be used for anything else.

Pruning knife, shears, or scissors:

The requirement of these implements depends on the kind of plants you have. If you're growing trees or shrubs, you'll need pruning shears. If you're growing annual or seasonal flowers, you might need only a good strong scissors and a pruning knife. A sharp garden knife can also be used for pruning the roots.