How to Know When Plants Need a Bigger Pot


Potted plants are great for giving any room or home some life, but they can be an issue if the size of the pot you are using is wrong.

How do you choose the size of the pot for plants? This question can be broken down in two ways. Before choosing a pot, you need to know how big the plant is likely to become and choose appropriately. In case the potted plant has grown too big, it will need to be transplanted to another pot, which will require you to know how big it will need to be via research.

It isn’t really that strange for you to transplant potted plants when they get too big, but it might be worth it to choose the appropriate size for the pot from the start, to begin with.

Considerations when Choosing Pots for Plants

The pot that you are going to be planting your plants in will need to be of the right size for a variety of reasons. However, this is not the only thing you need to care about. With there being so many options for the containers that will hold your house plants, it can be easy to dismiss all of the other factors that come into play. Make no mistake, though, they will matter.

The factors that you will need to take into consideration the most when choosing a pot are the:

·         Size

·         Shape

·         Design

·         Features

·         Function

·         Weight

·         Theme

Keep in mind that the plant is not the only thing that will come into play when you are displaying it since the pot will grab attention, as well. This attention can be directed at various points, as well, from the origins of the pot to its cost. Depending on the circumstances, spiritual points of concern like Feng Shui might even be involved.

Thinking of it this way, you can easily see just how complex displaying houseplants can be. This is why you will want to take a look at the table below, which contains considerations when choosing the pots for the plants you will display.

ConsiderationsDetails
Getting the size rightSince we are mainly talking about the size of the pots where you will be transferring your plant here, you will obviously need to take this point into consideration when choosing
Finding suitable colorsSome plants look better in certain colors than others, and the color of the pot itself will need to complement the room that the plant will occupy
Ensuring the perfect shapePots come in all shapes and sizes, and you need to make sure that you get it right so that you can easily find a place for it and that it can accommodate the plant itself
Picking the right designEven if the shape of the flower pot is simplistic, it can be designed and decorated quite lavishly depending on who made it
Considering the materials carefullyPots can be made with different types of materials, including clay, cement, plastic, carbon fiber, ceramic, or even recycled paper and cardboard, so choose wisely
Understanding the featuresPots often come with certain features such as the drainage, the extra plate, holes for better air circulation and so on
Taking note of the functionSome pots are only meant to raise seedlings while others are meant to accommodate either grown plants or bonsai, so choose appropriately
Not too heavy or lightAt some point, you will need to move the potted plants you have and they need to be of the right weight to be moved easily enough and be functional
Fitting the theme of the roomPlants are meant to brighten a room but if the pot clashes with the style or theme of the interior design, the results can end up being a dud

As you can see from that, there are way more considerations that go into choosing a pot than you might think. This is doubly true if you have a habit of trying to fit the image of a room to anything that is placed in it. Then again, if you don’t really care about such things, you can just ignore some of the items included in the table above.

The important thing is that your houseplant will thrive in the way that you want and you won’t have trouble caring for it in the manner that you choose. Even so, it is worth looking into every single one of those considerations more closely.

Size – As already mentioned before, the size of the pot that you are going to get will have a huge impact on the kind of results that you are going to get with the houseplant that you plan to grow. You need to remember that the amount of space in the pot will impact the amount of potting mix that you can use and this, in turn, will affect how much room the roots will have to move in.

All of these things will need to be taken into consideration when you are thinking about creating the kind of environment in which your plant will thrive. If you choose the wrong pot size, you might end up stumping the grown of the plant or outright killing it. If you would rather avoid that kind of outcome, you might want to focus more on exactly what size the pot should be.

Of course, there are a lot of ways in which you can view the matter of the pot’s size. You need to think about the size of the pot’s body itself, the amount of room it is able to provide relative to the design that the pot has. Those things will be affecting the actual amount of space that you will have to work with, after all, and there are some big pots that don’t give you much room.

There are uses for pots that give enough space, though, so don’t write those off automatically. Try to make sure that you actually think about what you need the pot for relative to the plant, the location, and the environment.

Shape – The number of shapes that you can find for plant pots are numerous, varied, and can be quite unorthodox. After all, there are those who fancy themselves as artists when creating pots and those kinds of people are almost always the most troublesome to deal with when uniformity is the concern. Then again, it’s not as if you have to deal with those kinds of makers.

Pots can basically be broken down into two general categories. There are the functional pots, which are only meant to house the plant that you are thinking of displaying. Then there are the decorative pots, which are either meant to complement certain plants or the room. It can even be both and if you are shopping for pots, you might have to choose between these two.

Functional pots are basically your literal garden variety items that are simplistic in their shape and function. They can be circular, rectangular, oval, or triangular. Aside from the embellishments that they may get via the potter’s discretion, you can tell right away if they are able to do their jobs or not.

In the case of decorative pots, things can be quite a bit more complicated. Of course, the shape itself will depend entirely on the whims of the maker, but they can be quite irregular. There have been pots that have been shaped like tree branches while others look like polygonal in nature. You might want to think long and hard before you decide to get one of these.

Design – The shape of the pot can be part of its design but even the simplest of shapes for pots can be given an upgrade with the right decorations. Think ridges, colors, sculpted landscapes, and so much more. These kinds of pots can be considered a work of art by themselves and you can be the one to use them as plant containers.

Obviously, you would not want to pair pots with the most intricate designs with plants that are only going to serve to bring them shame. As such, you have to make sure that you actually get this right by considering what plants would go well with which pots.

You can even choose to host plants that are only going to be in them for a few hours since pots can also by temporary homes of tree branches with dazzling petals. Sakura blooms have been known to be displayed in some of the most exquisite pottery art in the world and their fading glory only serves to emphasize their beauty. This is something you might want to consider.

Materials – Pots can be made of a wide selection of materials, which will inevitably come with different effects depending on what those are. It goes without saying that bigger pots will be heavier than smaller pots but there are smaller pots that are heavier than bigger pots simply because of the materials that they are made of. And this is a very important point to emphasize.

Aside from the weight, the material will also have a major impact on pretty much all of the points of consideration mentioned here. It will affect the color, the design, the thickness, and even the size. Some pots simply cannot be made a certain size simply because the material would not be able to withstand the dimensions being required of it.

Then there is the durability, which is an area where a lot of people make mistakes. For example, a lot of people think that just because a plastic pot and a ceramic pot of the same size can accommodate plants of the same size that this will be the case once you scale up. At some point, plastic will lose out and become less desirable than other materials.

Features – Believe it or not, pots can actually come with certain features that make them unique to others depending on the circumstances. For example, there are pots that have multiple holes for more air circulation. This is a very important point of consideration, especially for pots with multiple plants. However, those are rather more difficult to find.

There are also pots with just one hole in the bottom, which is meant to help with the drainage. You don’t want the water to stagnate in the soil, after all, especially with potted plants that you leave outside where they are then exposed to the rain. Those kinds of plants can easily drown if there is no way for the water to drain out.

Then there are the pots with dividers, pots with handles, pots with separate dishes to catch the water that drains, and so many other examples. Suffice it to say, you need to think about what kind of features you need to have when you are choosing your pots in consideration for the plants, the soil, and the environment.

You don’t want to end up with a pot that won’t be able to perform as needed, especially when you don’t really have much space to work with. If you are living in an apartment, for example, you are unlikely to have much space to create a garden. So you have to make the most with the choices that you have, which just happens to include the many varieties of pots.

Function – Along with the features of the pots that you can choose from, you will also want to take the function into consideration. This ties in with pretty much everything that we will be discussing here, but this point is worth emphasizing. That is to say, you need to think about what the pot is meant for so that you can decide if it is worth getting.

You see, some pots are actually trays and those are meant more for growing seedling than anything else. As such, you won’t be able to use them if you are trying to grow mature plants for any reason. You can choose shallower examples of these kinds of pots, but they will only serve you well if you have the right kinds of plants.

Then there are the standard pots for accommodating small to medium varieties of vegetation. These are basically pots that will house plants that won’t grow much taller than your waist. For plants that do grow quite a bit, though, you can still choose pots for them but those would look more like drums than anything else.

Those are the kinds of pots that you basically get for things like decorative trees such as palm. By doing so, you will be able to transform pretty much any venue into any kind of environment you like, at least, from a simulated standpoint. Then, when you are done, you can remove the potted trees and turn the venue back to the way it was.

Weight – With the above section being the case, you might also want to take weight and mass into consideration when you are looking for plant pots. As already mentioned in the materials section, what your pot is made of will affect its weight. However, how much of that material you are dealing with will also matter.

If the shell of the pot is an inch thick and made of clay, it is naturally going to be a lot heavier than one that is only half an inch thick. This is just one example, of course, but it is one that needs to be made because of how the weight difference can increase exponentially as the size goes up.

As to why it even matters, it goes back to what you will be using the pot for. If the pot is meant to accommodate a tree, it should be made of sturdier materials than if it is meant to only house a shrub. This is where the point really needs to be driven home.

Theme – Coming to the more superficial aspect of the pot shopping, you also want to think about the theme of the room, garden, patio, loft, or wherever you might place the potted plant. If the environment leans more towards an eastern influence, it would be quite jarring to see a pot that is of either Arabian or European design displayed prominently.

While there can be cases where you can justify such things where you are basically trying to mix cultures together, this will not work as well if one of them is more dominant towards one. With this being the case, you might want to spend some time thinking about what kind of theme you want to go for if you are considering creating a garden. It will save you a lot of headaches going forward.

How to Re-pot a Plant into a Bigger Pot

With all of those points made, it is now time to talk about how you might repot a plant if the current home is already too small into a bigger one that will suit its size. Well, this will depend on a few things, namely:

·         The type of plant

·         The potting material

·         The size of the plant

·         The size of the pot

·         The place where the pot will go

·         The conditions of the soil

The methods that you will use will change depending on these circumstances and they don’t even cover those cases where the plants are left in their biodegradable bags as they were planted. In general, though, the process itself is pretty simple.

You will first need to prepare the new pot by covering the drainage holes with a thin material like a coffee filter or a paper towel. You will then put in a thin layer of soil to act as the bed of the plant. From there, you need to add the mulch, some water, and some layers of sand if the plant calls for it. After that, you remove the plant from its old pot.

This is easier said than done, of course, especially if the roots have already dug deep. You might need to break the old pot and then trim the roots of excess materials. Once that’s done, you place the plant in the new pot after loosening the roots, add another layer of mulch, potting mix, and then water it.

Some obvious points that should be brought up here are that the pot should be big enough to accommodate the plant and that you need to pay special attention to it for a few days. Don’t forget to water and prune as necessary to encourage the plant to thrive in its new home.

Should You Loosen Roots Before Repotting?

Loosening the roots of the plant that you are planning on transferring to a new home basically refers to untangling the tendrils from the soil and then spreading them apart. You see, what happens to the roots system of a plant in a pot is that it will begin to mimic the shape of that pot. If you replant it as is, there could be an issue in how it spreads through its new home.

With this being the case, you will need to prepare the plant by loosening the roots. This means shaking off the soil that is still clinging to it and then pulling the roots gently apart from each other. The operative word here is “gently” because any excess damage that you do could result in the roots beginning to rot.

If root rot sets in, this will not only affect the plant itself but also the soil. You do not want to reuse soil that has already come in contact with rotting roots because it could infect the next plant that you put in there. So be careful when you are loosening the roots and only do it after you remove all of the remaining soil. Run it under flowing water if necessary.

Related Questions

What Happens if a Pot is Too Small for a Plant?

If the pot is too small for the plant, a few things can happen depending on a few things such as the type of plant, the type of pot, and the level of care it receives. In some cases, the plant can grow so big that the pot would crack. In others, the plant is not able to adapt to the limited space and dies.

Do Plants Like to Be Touched?

According to certain studies, plants are averse to being touched and even brief contact will have an impact on the level and quality of growth. With this being the case, it is very important that you make sure that you avoid touching your plants as much as possible so that they grow healthy.

Risks Involved in Repotting

Repotting can be quite a delicate procedure if you know anything about plants since a lot of factors go into it. First is the matter of the process itself, in which you can make a huge mistake and the plant ends up getting damaged as a result. You need to extricate the plant soil and all in order to make sure that it suffers the least amount of stress.

From there, you can’t forget to loosen the soil so that it doesn’t end up having stunted growth. Then there is the matter of how you prepare the new home for the plant. Too many people just take the entire plant with the root ball and the soil, and then just plop it into the new one with no adequate preparations. All they then do is cover the remaining space with new soil.

You must not do this or you could end up restricting the plant. Then there is the risk that your constant touching will do to the plant. Studies have shown that plants simply do not like to get touched and this can have lasting effects. So, if you are going to re-pot your plant, it needs to be done in one smooth and decisive motion to avoid permanently damaging it.

Which Plants Are Suitable for Pots?

Pretty much any plant that can thrive in the soil is suitable for planting and it really just comes down to the matter of degree when talking about just how suitable those plants are. Simply put, as long as you keep it in the ground, you can grow it in a pot. If you are looking for more specific examples, though, there are a few that come to mind, such as succulents, bonsai, and flowers.

What you can never grow in a pot, though, are vines. Well, at least not in the conventional method. You can grow vine type plants via tree trunks, branches, wires, and so on. There are also lichen, ferns, and many others that will only grow in an elevated position. However, there are also blooms that can go either way.

Orchids, for example, are vine type plants that don’t need soil in order to thrive. However, you can still keep them in pots by using pieces of wood or charcoal to hold them in place. Just make sure that their positions are also elevated. 

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