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Should Plants Be Kept In Nursery Pots?

Congratulations on bringing a new plant home! But is it still in its nursery pot? You might be wondering: is it ok to keep plants in nursery pots? Let’s find out.

It would be best if you kept the plants in the nursery pots after bringing them home as the plants undergo stress after being introduced to a new environment. Moving it from the nursery pot immediately after bringing it home will increase the stress. Wait for 6 months to 1 year before repotting.

A few factors decide whether and when to move your plants from nursery pots. I am going to simplify it in this article, so keep reading.


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Is it ok to keep plants in nursery pots?

It is best to keep the indoor plants in nursery pots right after you bring them home from the store or nursery or order it online.

Although there are different opinions around it, this is what has worked for my plants.

And there are reasons behind it.

Traveling from the nursery or the store to your house causes transportation stress to the plant.

After reaching your house, the plant is again exposed to a new environment and needs to adjust.

So you see, the plant already goes through so much stress, and repotting it to a new pot will add up to it.

Therefore, it is always best to wait for some time before you move it from the nursery pot.

However, remember that you can’t leave the plant in the nursery pot for too long.

You must move it to a new pot in a few months or a year.

How long to keep plants in nursery pots?

How long you can leave your plant in the nursery pot will depend on a few factors.

You will need to move the plant right away in cases like:

  • The pot doesn’t come with drainage holes
  • The plant is rootbound
  • The plant looks dull even after a few weeks after bringing to the house

Also read: When To Repot Indoor Plants? (Signs, How-To & Other FAQs)

Nursery pots with no drainage holes

Drainage holes are extremely important to the well-being of plants.

No matter which plant you bring in, it will require drainage holes not to get overwatered.

So, you can’t compromise on that.

Repot the plant in a pot with drainage holes if the nursery pot doesn’t have any.


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Rootbound plant

pothos root bound

Rootbound means that the roots of your plant have outgrown its pot.

They need more space for growth.

The plant usually shows signs of being rootbound that will tell you that you need to move it from the nursery pot.

You are less likely to receive a rootbound plant from the store or nursery.

Here are some signs of a rootbound plant:

  • Roots coming out of the drainage holes
  • Roots showing over the soil surface
  • Slow or no growth
  • Discolored leaves
  • A bloated or cracked pot

Most of these signs indicate that the plant has been rootbound long enough.

But, some plants like staying rootbound for a while.

If you bring these plants home, you get more time to move them.

Some examples include snake plants, spider plants, peace lily, African violet, Boston fern, Jade plant, philodendron, and most cacti and succulents.

Also read: Root Bound Houseplant (Signs, Problems +How To Fix With Images)

The plant does not recover the stress

I mentioned earlier that the plants go through transportation stress before they can finally settle in.

But if you notice that the plant is not looking any better even after a few weeks, you can consider moving it from its nursery pot.

There have been cases where these plants have done better after getting a new pot.

If you are not experiencing any of these, you should wait and give the plant some time before removing it.

Time spent at the store

Consider asking the store owner how long the plant has been sitting there.

If the plant has been sitting on the shelf for a short period, it will have lower chances of becoming rootbound fast.

So you can keep it in its pot for a longer duration.

On the other hand, if the plant has been sitting in the same pot for longer, you can consider moving it from the nursery pot sooner.

The pot size and material

In most cases, you will receive the plant in soft plastic pots.

You can keep the plants in nursery pots for a while, but as I mentioned earlier, you will need to repot them in a few months or a maximum of a year.

However, you can also receive the plant in ceramic or terracotta pots.

I have received my plants in both ways, and my approach has been different for both.

Usually, the plants I got in ceramic or terracotta pots cost me more because the pot cost was also included.

But, it gave me a long-term solution because I could keep my plants in them longer.

I paid less money when the plants were sent in plastic pots, but I had to move them sooner.

Also read: What Kind Of Pot Should I Use For Indoor Plants? (With Pros And Cons)

How to take care of a plant in a nursery pot?

Taking care of a plant living in a nursery pot is not very different from the usual care you provide for indoor plants.

Here are the basic requirements you must keep in mind:

Factor Care Requirements
Light Make sure to provide enough light to the plant. Never keep the plants in the dark, even if you have low-light plants. All plants will need some light for proper functioning.
Water Here is where you need to be careful. Understanding watering is tricky, but you can master it with the right knowledge and experience.
Find out how much water your plant prefers and water it accordingly. Don’t go overboard with it. Always check the soil’s moisture before watering.
Fertilizer If your plant doesn’t come with fertilizer or the fertilizer gets depleted, you need to fertilize it as per its requirement. Choose a suitable NPK fertilizer and fertilize once every 1-2 months during the growing season.
Temperature Indoor plants prefer warmth but won’t tolerate low or extremely high temperatures. They usually do well at average room temperature. Avoid exposing them to drafts, heating or cooling appliances, harsh sunlight, and low temperatures.
Humidity Although it often goes unnoticed, humidity is an important requirement. Use a humidifier if your plants require high humidity and your house doesn’t have that. But don’t keep plants like cacti and succulents in high humidity.
This table demonstrates the basic requirements of a plant living in a nursery pot.

How to repot a plant from the nursery pot?

Repotting a plant

If you see rootbound signs in your plant, it is time to move it to a new pot.

Supplies you will need for repotting:

  • A new pot
  • Fresh potting mix
  • A knife
  • Pruner
  • Disinfectant
  • Cotton
  • Watering can with water

Let’s look at the steps now.

1. Prepare for repotting

Water the plant a day before you plan to repot it. 

This will allow the roots to come out easily from the pot.

2. Take the plant out

Hold the pot upside down and gently pull the plant out of the pot.

If you struggle to take the plant out, tap the pot to loosen the soil or run a knife along the edges.

Be gentle. Too much force can damage the plant and its roots.



3. Inspect the roots

Once the plant is out of its nursery pot, inspect the roots thoroughly.

If the plant is rootbound, you might need to loosen or untangle the roots.

Also, remove the excess soil from the roots as much as possible.

If you notice any damaged or overgrown roots, you will need to prune them.

Use a sharp pruner to make clean cuts, and use cotton and disinfectant to clean the pruner before and after use.

4. Add fresh potting mix and the plant to the new pot

Take the new pot and make sure it has drainage holes.

Add the fresh potting mix to the pot and fill it halfway.

Now, place the plant inside the pot and position it right so it remains in the center.

Ensure the roots have enough space and don’t press them into the soil.

Now add more potting mix from the sides.

Tap the sides of the pot to let the soil settle inside the pot and eliminate all air pockets.

5. Aftercare

After repotting, water the soil with the watering can and place it in a well-lit spot with proper ventilation.

Make sure the temperature and humidity levels are optimized for the plant.

FAQs

There are a few questions that trouble plant owners regarding keeping them or moving them from nursery pots.

How to hide plastic plant pots?

If your plant is in a plastic nursery pot that doesn’t look good, you might be looking for ways to hide it.

You can use the double-potting method.

You can get a slightly bigger pot that looks good and place the nursery pot inside it.

This is the easiest way to deal with this concern.

Here is a size guide that can help you out:

Nursery pot size Decorative pot size
2-3 inches 4 inches
3-4 inches 6 inches
4-6 inches 8 inches
6-8 inches 10 inches
8-10 inches 12 inches
This table demonstrates the ideal size ratio of the nursery and decorative pots.

However, beware of overwatering.

Water the nursery pot after taking it out of the bigger pot.

Let the water drain before placing the nursery pot back into the decorative pot.

Should I go for a bigger pot?

When moving the indoor plant from the nursery pot to a new one, don’t choose one that’s too big.

Get a pot 2-4 inches bigger than the previous one.

But don’t go beyond that, as it will be too big, and the plant can get overwatered.

Also, don’t select a pot that is too small for the plant.

It will make the plant go rootbound faster.

Also read: What Happens If You Put A Plant in A Pot Too Big?


Sources: The Pennsylvania State UniversityThe Royal Horticultural Society, The University of MelbourneUniversity of Illinois.