Growing a beautiful plant in a pot is a satisfying experience, and plants continue giving joy year after year, especially as they can be moved indoors for brief periods when flowering. However, many pot plants tend to become drab and do not add anything to their environment. There are however a few tricks to growing really good plants in pots.
Watering pot plants can be difficult, as the water often is not absorbed below the surface. A wetting agent acts to open up the potting mix and allows water to be fully absorbed. An experiment conducted with three pot plants with standard potting mix which had typically dried out, indicates the importance of a good wetting agent.
Pot One used Eziwet granules ($9.95 for 800g)
Pot Two used Saturaid ($12.90 for 750g)
Pot Three no wetting agent used
The results were observed by digging a hole below the surface to test whether the water had penetrated more deeply.
Pot One – Eziwet did allow some penetration, although there were still significant pockets of dry and dusty soil
Pot Two – Saturaid absorbed water more quickly. While there were some dry areas, most of the soil was wet
Note: After a week of use both of these agents will perform better. Both products performed well in hard to wet sandy soils.
Pot Three – The pot without a wetting agent was extremely dry and dusty immediately below the surface of the soil. In this untreated pot, water tended to run down the sides of the pot. This indicates that any wetting agent provides a major advantage in watering pot plants and Saturaid appears to be a very effective product. The results also indicate the considerable difficulty a plant will have in surviving without a wetting agent
Eziwet and Saturaid were selected as these were regarded as two of the best products on the market.
Slow release fertilisers
The other important ingredient in growing good pot plants is a slow release fertiliser. They are designed specifically to work with potting mixes which actually use up fertiliser as they break down. A small amount of fertiliser is automatically released each day, keeping the plant growing well. Good slow release fertilisers include Osmocote ($5.95 for 500g), Nutricote ($6.50 for 500g) and Debco Green Jacket (All Purpose $3.50 for 200g). They can be easily sprinkled over the potting mix, however they will probably be more effective if placed in with the mix, either in a series of holes or scuffed under the surface.
Use a wetting agent, slow release fertiliser and some water, and there will be no excuse for not having gorgeous pot plants.
These products are available from nurseries, garden centres, specialist hardwares, large supermarkets and variety stores.