How to pot a plant

Most Australians live in urban areas in reasonably large houses on shrinking plots of land. Once it was a quarter acre block. Today that same area may have as many as four dwellings on it!

That scenario doesn't allow much room for gardening, especially when the outdoor room, a pool or hot tub and maybe a children's play area are factored in!

More and more of us are turning to gardening in space-saving pots and planter boxes.

This form of gardening can be very therapeutic and rewarding thanks to premium potting mixes, a wide range of plants bred specifically for pot culture and terrific pots, bowls, baskets and tubs designed not only to be functional but decorative as well.

The secret to its success is in knowing how to pot plants so they'll perform well.


Gather your supplies

Get organised by collecting everything you'll need before you start!

Work on a clean bench or table and have an old bucket on hand to collect old potting mix, which you can spread on the garden or add to the compost bin later.

  • Garden gloves - ALWAYS use gloves when handling potting mixes or soils.
  • One or more bags of premium or superior potting mix - choose the one that's best for the plants you are potting up.
  • Clean pot/s of suitable size and proportion.
  • Hand trowel.
  • Fibreglass flywire or similar sized durable mesh.
  • Scissors or secateurs to cut mesh and trim roots.
  • Watering can.
  • Scotts Osmocote® Boost+Feed All Plant Types (Liquid Concentrate).

Step by step potting guide

This guide can be followed or adapted for pots of all sizes, including hanging baskets and large planters and boxes. It can also be used for planting vertical wall gardens.

potting guide

Step 1

Use potting mix straight from the bag - don't contaminate it with the old mix by tipping it out on to the potting bench. Close the bag tightly after use.


Step 2

Cut a single layer of flywire (or other mesh) slightly larger than the base of the pot and position it over the drainage holes.


Step 3

Add 30-40mm of the fresh mix into the base of the pot. You can re-use an old pot but make sure it has been thoroughly washed to remove all traces of old mix, roots and fertiliser salts.


Step 4

Holding your hand over the top of the mix in which the plant is currently growing, up end the pot and tap the rim on a bench to loosen and remove it. Gently loosen ('tease') the root ball without disturbing roots too much and remove any damaged, dried or twisted roots.


Step 5

Place the root ball in the centre of the new pot (if potting up individually) or position it where you want it to grow in a larger container that will eventually hold several plants.


Step 6

Check that it's sitting at about the same level as it was in the previous pot. If it is too low (the plant is sitting deeper than it was previously), lift it out and add more mix to the bottom of the pot. Repeat until the plant is at the right level.


Step 7


Fill the pot with potting mix to within 20-30mm of the top rim of the pot, working the mix in and around the plant's roots.


Step 8


Tap the pot or container gently on the bench to settle the new mix and remove any air pockets around the roots. Do not pack it down too firmly.


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