the $20 photoshoot that made us better gardeners
learn how to properly pot your new houseplant--the right way.
Published May 23, 2016 5:00 AM
produced & styled by ALYSSA CLOUGH photography by MICHAEL WILTBANK
After receiving professional instruction on how to properly pot a plant at The Style Line and The Sill’s Earth Day breakfast (chia seed pudding pot perfection, courtesy ofAncolie), it became clear we could all use a few pointers when it comes to potting—and taking care of—our green friends. And before you try to make peace with your current planter situation, NO, you can’t just leave it in that plastic thing it came in when you bought it at the store. Slipping the plastic pot into your real pot doesn’t count either.
Keeping reading for six short steps to potting your plant—the right way—courtesy of our friends at The Sill.
STEP 1: COLLECT YOUR SUPPLIES.
- Newspaper (to prevent extra mess!)
- Your houseplant of choice
- A planter, preferably made of terra cotta or stonewear with a drainage hole and saucer
- Well-draining soil made for indoor gardening
- A vessel for watering
Set up your planting space by first covering your floor or table in newspaper. We used brown paper, feel free to use whatever you have around the house. A brown paper bag cut and laid flat works great. We picked up a ZZ plant (notoriously hard to kill) from our local hardware store along with a terra cotta planter. Your new pot should be just a bit larger than your plant—it needs room to spread its roots and grow!
While you’re gathering planting materials, make sure to water your plant one to two days in advance to prepare it for transferring.
STEP 2: REMOVE THE PLANT FROM IT’S PLASTIC CONTAINER. Remember when the young cast of Harry Potter learns how to replant Mandrakes in Herbology? (We hope so.) Well, it goes a lot like that. If your plant is already loose, gently grab onto the stems and pull it out. Don’t be afraid to be forceful, plants are more durable than you think.
If that doesn’t work, turn your plastic planter upside down (while holding onto the stems) and give it a few taps. This should help the plant slide right out. Once your plant is out of its original plastic pot, loosen up the roots and trim any long or dead roots.
Naturally, this should remove some of the oil soil from your plant, but make sure to get rid of at least one third to make room for the new!
STEP 3: ADD SOIL TO THE BOTTOM OF YOUR PLANTER. Add a layer of pre-moistened soil to the bottom of your new planter. Create a solid base to set your plant on, making sure it doesn’t sit too high. Lightly pat down the soil so it’s not loose, but not pack solid either. Fresh soil provides the plant with new nutrients, which it needs to grow and stay healthy!
STEP 4: PLACE YOUR PLANT IN THE POT. It’s (finally) time to add your plant. The base of your stems should sit slightly below the lip of the planter—not too high, but not too low.
And don’t forget to center it!
STEP 5: ADD NEW SOIL. Using your hands (they should be plenty dirty by this point!), add soil to secure your plant in its new home.
Again, press down, but not too hard, You want to allow the roots of your plant breathe! Even out the topmost layer of soil so it looks nice and covers your plant’s roots.
STEP 6: WATER YOUR PLANT. Water well, let the extra water drain, and you’re done! Keep your plant out of bright, direct sunlight for a few days while it acclimates to its new home and follow care instructions.
For general guidelines on how to choose and take care of your plants, visit The Sill.