How to Plant Plants in Three-Gallon Pots


The option of creating a container garden isn't limited to the size of the pot. Larger plant pots allow the gardener to create a bigger visual display to accent the landscape. Standard flower pots range in size from a pint up to multiple gallons. Three-gallon pots offer a middle-of-the-road option for gardeners to create a medium sized container garden. These planters add decorative elements to the living space and are light enough for easy movement in the landscape.

Step 1

Flip the 3-gallon container over and check the bottom of adequate drainage holes spaced every 4 to 6 inches along the pot bottom. If these are missing, puncture the bottom by tapping a screwdriver with a hammer. Widen the holes to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch.

Step 2

Set the pot in its permanent location if possible. The planter will be heavy after filling with rocks, dirt and plants.

Step 3

Add pot shards or gravel to the bottom of the pot to fill one-third of the planter. Pot shards or gravel helps drainage, limits soil loss from drainage holes, and reduces the amount of potting soil needed to fill the pot.

Step 4

Pour potting soil on top of the potshards or gravel to fill the pot two-thirds full. Smooth this layer and place your plants in their containers into the pot. This practice run allows you to visualize the layout of the 3-gallon pot.

Step 5

Check the surface soil of your purchased plants. Add water if the soil feels dry to allow for easier removal from the transplant container. Hold the transplant pot in both hands and press along the sides as you rotate the pot. This method loosens both roots and soil for easier removal.

Step 6

Place your palm over the top of the plant and tip it upside down. The plant should slide right into your hand. If it doesn't, gently pinch the main stem between your thumb and forefinger while squeezing the pot with your other hand. Lift the plant free carefully. Cut away the plastic transplant pot if the plant refuses to budge.

Step 7

Position the plants in the 3-gallon pot so the top of each root ball lays 1 inch lower than the pot rim. If you plan to add mulch to the top of the planter, allow 2 inches beneath the rim. Fill in around the plants with soil and press lightly with your hands.

Step 8

Water each plant individually using a light trickle of water so moisture penetrates deeply into the pot. Water should flow freely out the drainage holes on the plant bottom. To limit damage to the patio or deck surface, add a drainage tray beneath the plant. Remember to always dump any standing water to avoid root rot.

Things You'll Need

  • 3-gallon container
  • Screwdriver
  • Hammer
  • Pot shards or gravel (optional)
  • Potting soil
  • Trowel
  • Plants
  • Pruning shears
  • Watering can


  • Colorado State: Container Gardens
  • Indiana University: Container Gardening Tips
  • Washington State University: Container Gardens
Keywords: container gardens, three gallon pots, planting pots

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.