I want to grow potted plants and one of the important things to understand about them is how love they can live in a pot.
A potted plant can live between 1-5 years depending on the plant and growing in favorable conditions like good potting soil, water, sunlight, and care. Some can live longer but it’s always good to replant as the plants may weaken with age.
There’s a lot more to understand about your plants and I’ve written my research below that can help your plants grow well.
How plant type affects the potted plant’s life?
To understand how long a potted plant can live, you need to know what type of plant you’re growing.
An annual plant grows for one season, blooms, provides seeds, and then dies. Most vegetables are annual plants. Many flowering varieties like zinnias, marigolds, and petunias are annual plants. These have bright colored flowers that bloom for an entire season.
A perennial plant is one that grows for one season, remains dormant in winter, and then grows back in the next growing season. Some perennial flowers you can find are tulips, asters, and lilies.
There’s another variety of plants known as biennials. These plants grow one season, remain dormant in winter, bloom in the second season, and then die.
So based on what plant you’re growing in the pot: annual, perennial, biennial, you can expect one or more years of growth.
A hardy plant is one that can survive adverse conditions typically the cold weather of winter, lack of water, and wind. So the hardiness of the perennial plants you grow also determines whether the plant will survive the winter of the 1st year.
There are certain things you can do to ensure your potted plants have the best chance of living for a long period of time.
How to keep potted plants alive?
Choose the right pot
This is the most important choice you’ll make when growing plants in pots. You want to choose a pot that is the right size for your plant.
When the plant grows in size, you’ll need to place the plant into a bigger pot. If you don’t do that the roots will have spread into the entire pot and not get sufficient nutrients from the soil.
Having a large plant in a small pot means the soil will dry out faster and the plant will not get the moisture it needs.
You’ll see problems like wilted leaves, dry stem, and plants that are root-bound when the pot is small.
If the pot is too large, that is also a problem. The soil gets a lot of water that stays and can drown the roots. The roots will get a lot of nutrients than they can handle leading to root and leaf burn.
To avoid all these problems. you should pick a pot that is just one or two sizes larger than the plant.
Learn about your plant
The most important thing you can do to increase the chances of your plant living a long life is to learn more about the plant.
You can read books and articles about the plant to gather information like it’s soil, water, sunlight, and temperature needs.
Make sure to do this before you start growing the plants. Otherwise, your plants may suffer later due to your lack of information.
Choose a good potting soil
It’s important that you use the best Potting soil for your plants to give them the best chance of survival.
You cannot use garden soil in your pots. The soil may contain pests and diseases. It may contain too much clay or sand that is not suitable for growing the plant.
potting soil that is made for your plant can hold moisture but drains well. And it has good aeration properties. It also holds nutrients that will help your plants grow better.
You can get the potting soil from your local garden center. Or you can make some of your own with a mix of perlite, vermiculite, and coco coir. If you have some compost available, that’s a good choice to add to this mix.
Water the plants well
You want to ensure the right amount of moisture is present in the soil for your plants. You can figure out the moisture levels in the soil using a moisture meter.
But there’s an easy method to figure this out using your finger. Poke your finger an inch or two in the soil. If you find that no soil sticks to it, it means the soil needs watering.
How often you need to water the plant depends on the type of plant. A succulent grows best when you let the soil dry for a little while before watering. Herbs are also plants that taste better with such delayed watering.
But annual flowers and vegetables won’t fare well if you let the soil dry too much. You need to supply them with water before the entire soil dries out. In summer, you may need to water such plants 2-3 times per day.
You don’t want to underwater the plant as it will not be able to get the nutrients and moisture from the soil.
But you also don’t want to overwater the plant as this will cause the roots to drown. And you’ll damage the plant with problems like root rot and fungal disease.
Make sure the pot has sufficient drainage holes at the bottom to allow the excess water to run out of them.
You can use self-watering pots if you tend to forget watering the plants. These containers have a reservoir you can fill up. And the plants can take in the water as and when they need it.
Give the plants the right amount of sunlight
You need to give the plants the right amount of sunlight for them to grow. The plants could be full-sun, partial sun, or shade types.
Plants that need full-sun need at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight to grow well. Plants with partial sun can survive with a lot less. And plants that love shade should not be planted in the sun otherwise they will wilt.
You need to place the pots in the right areas of your garden depending on the plants you’re growing in them. If the plants need partial sun or shade, you can make use of a screen to protect them.
Grow the plants in the right temperature
Plants come in different levels of hardiness. This is an indicator of the toughness of the plant against cold weather, wind, and even lack of nutrients and water.
You want to make sure to grow the plants based on their hardiness. If the plant can survive heat, you can grow them outdoors in full sunlight. If the plant cannot stand the heat, you need to either grow them indoors or protect them from the sun.
The same situation occurs when the plants cannot survive the cold weather of winter. You’ll need to bring them indoors or move the pots to a greenhouse.
You might be able to extend the growing season for such plants by using a cold frame. Or grow them in wooden or black pots that can hold the heat a bit longer.
Protect the plants from pests and diseases
When you grow potted plants indoors, there are fewer pest and disease problems to deal with. But when growing outdoors, you need to be careful.
You can check your potted plants every day for pests and diseases. These could be small pests like aphids or garden animals like squirrels and rabbits.
It’s good to monitor your plants every day and take care of such pest and disease problems as soon as they. You might need to cut off a portion of the plant to protect it.
If the plant is infested with pests or covered with a disease, you may need to get rid of it. You need to throw away the potting soil and sterilize the pot before you can reuse it.
One way to do this is to soak the pot in a mix of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Then rinse the pot well with water before using it.
Why is my plant dying after repotting?
You might need to repot the plant because it has outgrown the pot it was growing in. Or in case the soil had some pests and diseases.
You need to be careful when repotting the plant if you don’t want to end up killing it. The main reason for this is transplant shock.
When you remove the plant from its current environment, the plant should be hardy enough to deal with this change. If not, then the plant suffers from problems like wilting, stunted growth, and even death.
The best way to do this is to make use of the same environment when repotting. You want to use the same potting soil mix that was in the original pot. You want to give the plants the same amount of sunlight and watering.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.