Ways to Transfer Potted Plants

Transferring a potted plant to a new container or to the ground can damage the plant if done improperly. Removing the plant from its original pot is a shock to the roots, and they can easily be damaged in the transfer. Being mindful of this problem can help you to transplant potted plants successfully. A bit of extra care is all it takes to avoid most potential issues.

Transfering to a New Pot

When transferring plants to a new pot, make sure to choose a pot that is much larger than the previous container. It's better to choose a pot that is too large for the plant's immediate needs than one that will quickly become too small. Use a pot with drainage holes if possible, as that will keep the plant's roots from becoming saturated. If the pot does not have drainage holes, fill the bottom with about an inch of loose rocks. Fill a third of the pot with high-quality potting mix. Grasp the center stem of the plant, turn over the old pot and tap the bottom until it releases from the container. Do not yank on the plant stem. It may help to water the plant a few hours before transferring it. Massage the root ball until it loosens slightly, then place the plant in the new pot. Fill in the space around the plant's base with potting soil mix, stopping at the top of the plant's root ball. Water until water runs out of the pot's drainage holes.

Transferring to the Ground

When transferring plants to an outdoor environment, it's best to toughen them up before placing them in the ground. A few weeks before transplanting them, begin placing them outside for several hours each day. Prepare the ground by tilling it, turning and fluffing the soil and removing all rocks, roots and debris. Mix in some compost or manure, if desired, to boost the soil's nutrient content. Transfer the plant at the beginning of its growing season (usually in the spring or fall). Dig a hole that is twice as large and about as deep as the plant's pot. Ease the plant from its pot as described in Section 1 and massage its roots to loosen them up. Slide the plant into the hole and fill in the area around it with soil. Water it immediately, soaking the ground.

Transferring to a Raised Bed

Till the top few inches of soil in the raised bed, removing rocks, roots and debris. Some plants' roots may plunge deep into the soil and hit the ground layer of dirt, so it's important to makes sure the environment is hospitable. Fill the raised bed with a potting soil mix that retains moisture and drains very well; typically, a mixture that includes perlite, vermiculite and peat moss is a good choice. Combine the soil mix with the tilled ground soil using a rake or shovel. Dig a hole in the dirt that is about as deep and twice as wide as the plant's pot. Remove the plant from its pot using the method described in Section 1. Loosen the plant's roots by massaging them, them place the root ball in the hole. Fill in the hole with soil and water the plant thoroughly to root it. Make sure to transplant the plant at the beginning of its growing season and harden it by putting it outside for several hours a day a few weeks prior to planting. Also, keep in mind that plants in raised beds may need to be watered more often, as the soil tends to dry out quickly.

Keywords: transfer potted plants, transferring plants to new pots, transferring plants to the ground, transferring plants to raised beds

About this Author

Katie Leigh is a freelance writer and editor based in Chicago. A Loyola University New Orleans graduate with a Bachelor's degree in communications, Leigh has worked as a copy editor, page designer and reporter for several daily newspapers and specialty publications since 2005.