Most of us enjoy the feeling of nurturing new life. Each year in the spring we get the chance to do just that in potting new seedlings or young plants. Preparing them for a fruitful life that will bring enjoyment to observers is a rewarding and deeply satisfying task.
Start by getting your plants ready. You may have begun growing these in the garage or a sunny window a few weeks earlier. Perhaps you snipped a cutting from a larger plant, dipped it in water, and it has now grown new leaves, ready to be transplanted in its own pot.
The small green growths, babies in the plant world, depend on your potting skill for their survival. Line them up in an open area like a workbench or the driveway so they are ready when you are.
Then line up your pots. These may be about five to twelve inches high and perhaps four to six inches wide; sizes will vary, depending on your taste and placement considerations. They should have small holes in the bottom for adequate drainage to prevent root rot. If you have used them before, discard old soil and any insects or pests that may have taken up residence there.
Open a bag of potting soil. You may have mixed homemade compost with it or simply purchased a commercial brand of fertilizer-rich soil. Make sure the soil is dark, moist, and rich to the touch, not clumped or knotted so that the tender plant roots can stretch and thrive in its midst rather than become choked or withered. Visually check for stones or other debris as you transfer it to the pots.
Fill the pots about one-third full of soil. Gently set each young plant in its own pot, nestling the roots into the soil but not pressing down too deeply, which might damage the roots or force them too close to the bottom of the pot.
Use your trowel or gloved hands to scoop up more soil and pack it loosely around the seedling. Fill the pot to within an inch of the top rim. Make sure that a suitable amount of the plant remains above the soil line; you don’t want to bury it entirely. Pack the soil firmly around the plant, taking care to protect and not hurt the plant’s stem or leaves.
Water the soil. Don’t use so much water that it floats on the surface of the pot. Add a fertilizer pellet if needed. Follow the plant’s potting directions, obtained from a nursery or an online Website, to ensure each seedling gets a healthy start.
Place the pots in sun or shade, whichever is indicated for the type of greenery you are potting. Keep an eye on them the first week or so to ensure they are growing as they should. Adjust water, sun, and fertilizer as needed based on the plants’ appearance.
When they outgrow the pot, be prepared to repeat the process to a larger container or to transplant them into the ground according to your landscape plan.