Moving a garden plant to a pot can be difficult, especially if the plant is well established in the garden. To ensure a successful move it's important to preserve the plant's root system when you remove it from the garden. Older plants have more complex root systems, which means transplanting will require a little extra effort. For the best results, choose a plant that is healthy and vibrant. Plants that are thriving in the garden have the best chances of surviving the move to a container.
Choose a compact plant with dark green leaves. Avoid plants with brown spots or light yellow-looking leaves. Dig up your plants in late autumn when the weather is cool but before the ground is frozen.
Fill your pot with potting soil, leaving five or six inches of space around the top edge. Choose a pot that is large enough to accommodate the plant's root system (if you are not sure how large the roots are, imagine the root ball is about the same size as the above-ground portion of the plant).
Use a hand shovel to pry up the dirt surrounding the plant. The root system is usually slightly larger than the leaves above the ground, so imagine a circle is drawn on the ground around the widest leaves and dig around that circle. Sink the shovel as deep into the ground as possible, making the hole as deep as the plant is tall.
Use your shovel to remove the root ball from the ground. Brush the dirt away from the outer roots to help them become established in the new pot.
Dig a well in the center of your potting soil and set the root ball in the pot. Cover the roots with extra soil and lightly press the dirt around the plant's stem. Add a dose of houseplant fertilizer to a watering can and water your plant thoroughly.
Put your newly potted plant in a sunny location and watch it carefully for the first few weeks after potting. Water the soil when the dirt is dry to the touch, and move the plant out of direct sunlight if the leaves look wilted or droopy.