Commonly asked potted plants questions frequently focus on how best to start your indoor plant collection, including what pots and when to fertilize.


What is the best potting mix?

Always use a good quality potting mix (not soil) for your containers. Soil is variable and often too poorly drained to use in pots. Potting mixes should have adequate drainage, good wettability, and suitable nutrient levels and pH. Thrive Premium is a good example of a top quality mix.

What is the best size pot for my plant?

Remember that pots dry out much more readily than soil and are also more likely to be affected by the surrounding air temperature. The larger the pot, the easier it will be to look after. Large pots retain moisture and maintain a more even temperature but it’s a good idea, for aesthetic reasons, to keep the size of the plant in proportion to the container.

Select a pot that will stand the test of time, a cheaper pot won’t last and will need to be replaced. The black plastic pots that most plants come in do heat up quickly and provide little insulation. 

What is the best type of pot?

There’s a wide selection of different containers available, each with its pluses and minuses. They include:

Terracotta: Traditional terracotta pots are made from fired clay. They are attractive and fairly expensive. Because they’re porous they lose moisture from the sides but the evaporation from the pot sides helps the mix to stay cooler.

Plastic: Lightweight and economical, plastic pots come in a wide range of colours. Because of their non-porous sides they help to retain the moisture in the potting mix. Black plastic pots absorb heat, which can raise the temperature of the mix to unacceptably high levels.

Glazed Pots: Ceramic Pots are waterproofed with a clear glaze coating. Depending on the size, they can be very expensive.

Do I really need to fertilise my plants?

YES! Potted plants need to be fertilised regularly during their growing period. The easiest way to do this is to use controlled release pellets such as Acticote or, if you prefer something organic, Dynamic Lifter Liquid fertilisers such as Aquasol, Thrive Soluble and Nature’s Way Multi-nutrient Plant Food can also be used but need to be reapplied fairly frequently (at least once every two weeks during the growing season.) If you use dry, granular fertiliser take special care to moisten the potting mix before applying and water well afterwards to dissolve the fertiliser salts. Because the root system of a potted plant is confined it is more likely to be burnt by dry fertilisers.


How much do I need to water my plants?

  • It is impossible to give a set regime for watering container plants. The best rule is to give plants a good drink when the top centimetre of the potting mix feels dry. It can be helpful to pretend that the container is empty and you are filling it with water – this gives a good indication of how much water is needed. Make sure that the water drains freely and is not left sitting in a saucer underneath the pot. Use a water breaker on your hose so that you don’t ‘blast’ the mix out of the pot.
  • Water holding crystals – polymer granules that absorb and hold moisture – can be added to the potting mix before planting or can be placed in holes around the root system of an established potted plant. Look for Yates Waterwise Water Storage Crystals.
  • If your pot is in a very hot position, or is made of a porous material such as terracotta, consider using a specialised potting mix such as Yates Patio & Tub Mix. This contains water holding crystals to help retain moisture in hot and dry situations.
  • Container plants that have dried out can be difficult to re-wet. Treat the mix with a soil wetter such as Yates Waterwise. Mulch the top of the potting mix with a layer of organic mulch.

Hanging Baskets

Hanging baskets look delightful but need very special care. Those in the shade are relatively easy to look after but, if hanging in the sun, baskets dry out very quickly. Wire baskets with fibre or bark linings are attractive but it’s wise to put a sheet of plastic inside the liner. Poke a few holes in the plastic sheet to allow drainage before filling with hanging basket potting mix. After planting and watering, any plastic sheet that is visible can be trimmed away with a pair of scissors. The plastic sheet won’t be seen but will make a huge difference to the water-holding ability of the basket.

Plastic hanging baskets are easier to care for because they retain more moisture than wire baskets. The same rule applies with baskets as with other pots – the bigger the container, the easier it is to look after! Yates Tuscan Hanging Baskets have a self-watering feature so they’re less likely to dry out.


Related products

Yates Waterwise Storage Crystals

These crystals absorb up to 400 times their own weight in water. This water is then released back to the plants over time as they require it.

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