Before you start planting, you’ll want to make sure your flower pots are properly prepped. Follow these steps to ensure your planters are draining correctly and protected from the elements so your flowers will grow better and your pots will last longer. You can use these techniques for almost any garden planter. It does not matter if they are made from high-grade resin and plastic, cast stone and concrete, wood, ceramic, metal, or vinyl. Read on to learn more.
Clean Your Planter
The first step in preparing your pot for planting is cleaning and disinfecting it, especially if reusing an old planter.
Check Your Pot for Drainage Holes
Drainage holes are crucial to your plant’s growth and health – if excess water cannot drain then plants will rot. Most ceramic flower pots will come with pre-drilled holes so that excess water can drain out of the pot. Wood planters may have slotted bottoms, allowing water to easily drain out. Some planters may not include drainage holes and in those cases you will need to make some a drill and the appropriate bit.
Line Your Planter
You may choose to line your planter with a heavy-duty plastic liner. Doing so will help protect planters made out of porous materials, like clay, from cracking in colder weather. Lining your planter will also keep it clean and fight against mineral deposits and disease that may affect plants down the road. If you are using a plastic liner, remember to cut drainage holes in the bottom of the liner.
Determine a Planter Filler Material
Here are some materials you can use to fill the bottom half or third of a large potting container:
- Styrofoam packing, especially so-called “peanuts,” or bubble wrap. These are ideal materials because they are lightweight, so if you decide to move your large planter at some point, it’s an easier, lighter task. And it’s also a good way to keep non-biodegradable material out of local landfills.
- Empty plastic milk containers and water bottles, small plastic nursery plant pots, aluminum cans. They take up lots of space, keep it light and provide plenty of space for drainage. And again, it’s earth-friendly to up-cycle these materials.
- Mulch is nice natural filler but can tend to be a little heavier since it retains moisture.
- Gravel and river rock work just fine at the bottom of a large planter, but if you use rocks be ready to use your muscles, too. They will add significant weight to your container.
- Broken terra-cotta pots
Avoid using filler materials like cardboard or newspaper that will decompose and rot, which can potentially damage your plant’s roots.
Add a Barrier
On top of your filler, before you add soil, place a piece of plastic screening or planting cloth, something porous that will allow water to seep through to the bottom of the pot. It will keep the soil from falling into your filler structure, and makes for an easier clean-up at the end of the season.
Select the Right Soil
If you want to keep it light and clean, avoid using garden soil. Garden soil is heavy and can include weed seeds, bugs, bacteria and other unwanted materials that you don’t want inside you container. Plus, garden soil doesn’t drain as well as other soil mixtures.
Instead, use a good potting mix – or container mix, potting soil, etc. – because it is well aerated, sterile, and lightweight. If your choice of potting soil doesn’t already have slow-releasing fertilizer mixed in, consider adding some when planting.
Fill Your Planter
Now comes the fun and pretty part – planting! Get ready to thrill, fill, and spill!