A Guide To Potting Plants - Garden Life



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A Guide To Potting Plants

Potting up plants is straight forward, once you know the do’s and don’ts to ensure a great end result. We’ve created this simple guide to help you through the process, to ensure your new pots make the perfect home for your plants to thrive in.

You will need:

  • Drainage gauze (fly screen mesh)
  • Premium potting mix (or cacti/succulent mix, orchid mix – depending on the plants)
  • Packers x 4 (small blocks that the pot will sit on)


Place a 300x300mm piece of drainage gauze inside the pot, covering the drainage hole. This stops potting mix escaping through the hole. We’ve found gauze works best. Don’t use other fabric such as weed mat or Geotech fabric, as this can cause pots to become waterlogged over time, and the pot and plant will not survive.

Pro Tip – Put a large handful of premium potting mix over the gauze to hold it in place.


Place your pot in its location and underneath, put the four packers on the ground so the pot is sitting evenly on top. The packers elevate the pot and help water run freely out of the drainage hole. Pots that sit directly onto the ground will become waterlogged over time, causing plants to die.


Next, add a few handfuls of potting mix to the bottom of the pot (over the gauze) and gently press this down with your hands (plant roots need air pockets in the potting mix so don’t pack it down too firmly). Then empty more potting mix into the bottom of the pot, making a mound that fills the pot about a third of the way. Be guided by the height of your plant rootball, as this will determine how much potting mix you need to put into the bottom of your new pot.

Pro Tip – Never use garden soil – use the best quality premium bagged potting mix you can buy, according to the plants you are using.


Now you’re ready for your plant. Turn the plant on its side and gently tap out the rootball from its plastic nursery pot. If the pot is stuck, gently squeeze it to loosen, or cut it off with strong scissors (not your best secateurs!). Sit the plant’s rootball onto the mound of potting mix and check that the top of it is 50-75mm from the top rim of the new pot. Adjust as necessary – you may need to add more mix or remove some if it’s too high. When happy with the height, backfill with potting mix evenly around the rootball.

Pro Tip – Check that the plant is sitting straight up and is in the centre of the pot as you backfill evenly with potting mix.


Water your new plant until you see water flowing out of the bottom of the pot. You may need to add more potting mix after watering, as the mix can sink down. Continue to water depending on the needs of you plant and fertilise during the growing season.

Pro Tip – Use a mulch on top of the potting mix, such as a small pea gravel, in a dark colour preferably, or highlight cacti and succulents with a white pea gravel (avoid wood mulch as this can leach tannin.)

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