Tips for Planting Trees in Containers

Sponsored by Lowe’s While I still love a good fiddle leaf fig tree, lately I’m noticing a shift away from using one in every single room in the house! :) It’s fun to see people start to use softer, more feathery trees in planters both inside and on porches and balconies. I’m obsessed with this…

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While I still love a good fiddle leaf fig tree, lately I’m noticing a shift away from using one in every single room in the house! :) It’s fun to see people start to use softer, more feathery trees in planters both inside and on porches and balconies. I’m obsessed with this 5′ tall honeysuckle tree we planted in this white stone planter from Lowe’s on the side porch of the Evergreen house and I thought I’d share here my approach to planting trees in large containers.

Start with selecting the right size planter. Something that is a few inches bigger than the plastic planter your plant was purchased in a good rule of thumb. Make sure your planter has a good sized drainage hole in the bottom (you can add these with a drill if needed!) and a saucer pan if your planter is coming inside.

I chose this gorgeous ceramic planter that is big and pretty heavy. To lighten the weight a little and to make it moveable, I like to add about 4″ of either packing peanuts or broken up styrofoam. I’ve found this helps with drainage too, which is so important to prevent root rot.

After filling the planter with good soil about half way, I like to clean up the trunk of my tree, remove any dead leaves and break up the roots a bit before planting. I also like to remove the bright green plastic ties. I use loosely tied jute twine to tether my tree to the wooden stake – you just have to keep an eye on the twine and replace it once a year or so as the tree continues to grow. Also, I usually like to pull out the stake from the root ball, find the prettiest angle of the tree and then replace the stake behind the trunk from the new front view before tying the twine. A hammer or mallet can help tap the stake down into place and will ensure your tree grows straight!

I always like to finish my planters by covering up the soil with either moss, gravel or ground cover plants. This final step is SO pretty and it also helps your tree retain moisture (which is so helpful here in Arizona!). I love using pea gravel or crushed white marble, but for this honeysuckle tree I opted for some preserved sheet moss from Lowe’s (you can get it in the nursery near the garden herbs).

I like to tear the moss into 4″ sections with my hands before layering them on the top of the soil. The finished result is so pretty!! Just make sure to lift off one of the moss sections if you’re watering with the hose so the water goes directly to the soil, not through the moss. The moss can lose it’s coloring a bit if it gets too directly soaked, but it’s not a big deal just to lift a piece up before giving your tree a good soak.

Every tree has different water, soil, food and light needs in order to help it thrive for years to come, so be sure to do your research! My local Lowe’s nursery manager, Matt, is a wealth of knowledge and really helps me figure out what to plant and where! And worst case scenario, did you know they will accept returns with a receipt if your plants dies within a year? Amazing, right?!

Here are some of my favorite planters at Lowe’s right now. And I’d love to hear if you have any additional tips for me in the comments section!

1 – Pennington White Stone Rustic Planter

2 – Gajos Terracotta Planter

3 – Aspire Home Accents Nabila Mid Century Planters

4 – Pennington Clay Planter with Rings

5 – Terra Cotta Clay Rustic Planter

6 – Mayne White Resin Square Planter

7 – Verdigris Clay Planter

8 – Allen + Roth Gray Resin Planter

9 – Garden Treasures Gray Resin Planter

10 – Garden Treasures Terra Cotta Resin Planter

11 – Mayne White Resin Shutter Style Square Planter

12 – Bronze and Ceramic Planter

 13 – Pennington Gold Clay Planter with Rings

14 – White Cylinder Planter with Saucer

15 – Allen + Roth Artichoke Planter

16 – Terra Cotta Heavy Rim Planter

17 – Grosfillex Azure Planter

 18 – Carved Stone Ceramic Planter Bowl

19 – Allen + Roth Copper Resin Planter

20 – Allen + Roth Woven Texture Resin Planter

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13 thoughts on “Tips for Planting Trees in Containers

  1. Thank you!
    While I no longer have a beautiful patio like yours, I do have a balcony that could use a wonderful potted tree. I appreciate the information.

  2. Can a tree be left outside in the pot over a winter in Salt Lake City? Can it thrive for several years in a pot?

    1. Hi Jan! It depends on the tree, but that’s why the styrofoam trick is a great one. The pot is easier to move so your tree can be moved insidee for thee colder months.

  3. Nice! I saw the styrofoam trick on a Netflix gardening show for the first time this year… if I can get past the shudders at how unnatural it is, it would make my big pots a lot lighter and use less soil! I do have a couple large outdoor potted plants/trees and I put mulch on top for the first time this year. Wow, what an improvement in looks – your topping ideas are even better.

    1. You need to be sure that you DON’T use packing pellets that decompose. They are getting harder and harder to find.

  4. We have a few pretty large scale potted trees out front of our house… I also use the styrofoam, and seems to work great with the olive trees we put in them. We used Mexican beach rocks to top it, which I have never done, but it definitely makes it looks so much nicer and cleaner! I’ve been experimenting with shells in the back planters. TBD on that one.

  5. Beautiful! Think I’m planting a tree this weekend! My tip is to use empty plastic bottles in the bottom of pots.

  6. I’m curious why not plant in a larger sized plastic container and then change sizes as the tree grows larger? This is what I have always done in order to keep plants movable and also to change things from the heavier pots. I always worry the plants will outgrow the heavier pot. Please let me know if this isn’t something desirable for a plant. Thank you!

    1. I think that’s a great approach, Annie. Especially for plants that grow fast. Slower growth trees might need to be replanted every few years, so it really depends I guess! xo

  7. Beautiful as always! As someone who works with plants, I’d like to add a couple of things: 1) moss like that is typically stripped mined from bogs. It’s unsustainable in that it kills the bogs and bogs are important to preserve as it pertains to a warming planet – they are sinks for CO2.
    2) consider promoting more native plants. Water is a scarce resource globally, and certainly in Arizona. Plants that normally grow wild where you are would be better suited to dry spells and wouldn’t require so many waterings with potable, drinkable water.

    Thanks for reading and your lovely blog!

  8. I loved reading your planting tips! I have this same pot & though I love it, it’s peeling a bit at the bottom. I thought pots were sealed & ready to go, but maybe not. Do you seal pots that you’re planting live plants in?

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