Can You Leave a Plant in the Container it came in?

Can You Leave a Plant in the Container it came in Image Illustration

Often if not all times, we buy plants in small pots. But can you leave a plant in the container it came in? Yes, indoor plants can stay in such pots till they’re ready for repotting. 

However, you must look out for symptoms to know when to repot the plant.

Generally, indoor plants should be in the initial pots for even a year. But larger species of plants will need repotting faster.

Read on to learn how to care for your beloved plants and whether repotting them is necessary.

Can You Leave a Plant in the Container it Came in?

Yes. In fact, to maintain the health of your new houseplants, keep them in their nursery pots for a minimum of one year. However, if the container is too small, you should repot the plant in a larger pot within 2-4 months before it becomes root bound. The plant roots need more room to grow bigger.

The Nursery Dilemma

Nurseries need to take care of their plants. This includes keeping them away from potential dangers, like a sudden frost or curious customers.

Not only do they use organic fertilizers and native plants, but their commitment to the environment also extends to their choice of containers.

That said, most nurseries prefer eco-friendly plant pot materials such peat moss, pressed paper, and composted cow manure that biodegrade quickly and have a minimal environmental impact.

The dilemma is that these Pots, at times, degenerate in the soil when watered, leading to increased handling costs or even damage to plants.

This results in garden centers investing in long-lasting, expensive containers for large perennials and trees until a customer arrives.

Plant Root Function

Plant roots have two primary roles. The first is to hold your plants in the ground. Primarily, such a role determines your plant root length sometimes. The second and critical plant root function is feeding the plant.

The feeding function involves converting several soil nutrients into the plant’s food. All that happens in the presence of moisture and air. Further, unlike foundational roots, these feeder roots are small, spread out, and numerous.

The longer-lived and larger your plants are, the wider the root system. For example, tree roots extend up three times a canopy. That happens laterally.  

Elsewhere, fast-growing annual flowers and vegetables also generate larger root systems. They do so to provide enough nourishment for a shorter growing season. Besides, we can credit native plants’ durability to their broad and deep root systems. 

Annuals in Pots

It’s always tempting for most people to plant annuals in biodegradable plastic grow pots. That’s so, especially when materials like compost manure offer additional nutrition. 

But if you’ve got uprooted spent annuals after the season, you’ve seen the following:

  • They can be fine.
  • They can have delicate feeder roots.

After the season winds up, you may notice the annual roots didn’t grow as expected. At the same time, the roots may not have escaped the confines of your biodegradable larger pot.

Blooming Perennials and Small Shrubs

The 1-5 gallon succulent pot where perennials come in is usually:

  • Pressed paper pulp.
  • Pressed plastic.

In most cases, the perennials may have been in the containers for 12 months or more. And you don’t need to take chances. That’s because you still need to remove your plants before planting.

Large Shrubs and Trees

Large plants like shrubs or trees have challenges with container materials/weights. And because damage sometimes takes years to show up in trees and shrubs, root health is a critical concern. 

It’s usually a critical issue from transplanting onward. In the case of a big root ball, care would help once it sits within the planting hole.

Can You Leave Plants in their Nursery pot?

Can You Leave a Plant in the Container it came in picture

Yes, you can leave plants in their nursery pots for a short period of time. However, it is important to be mindful of the plant’s needs and not leave them in this container for too long.

For example, a root-bound Fiddle Leaf Fig may not have enough space to grow properly if left in its original pot for long.

Here are other factors to help you determine if you can leave the plant in your nurser pot;

1. Container size 

The container size used in nurseries is usually small for the plant inside. Also, at the bottom of the pot, there should be several drainage holes. Further, putting nursery plants in larger pots is bad for business. 

That’s regardless of the plant’s growth rate or species. 

Larger pots equal more fertilizer and soil. Unfortunately, that equals more nursery costs. So, having plants in smaller pots with laced fertilizer is economically feasible. When they’re in such pots, they can stay for a long before someone buys them.

Therefore, it would be best if you repotted the planter after a week of purchase. 

2. Potting Mix

To some, a potting mix may be expensive. And that’s when it comes to planting propagation on a large scale for a nursery. Often, some create a homemade potting mix.

Such potting mixes can help ordinary houseplants stay within their pots for a long time. I recommend monitoring your plant’s growth before keeping it in nursery pots. 

Often, we have a misconception that one should report new plants into larger pots with the following:

  • New soil.
  • New fertilizer.

What if I tell you that immediate plant repotting can damage it?

3. Plant Species

Different plant species grow at different paces. Also, plants of larger species can overcome the pot’s size earlier, unlike smaller species. That can happen in similar timeframes.

So, it’s important to remember the plant type and needs over a while. Because of that, repotting larger plant species than smaller ones is a general rule of thumb. 

Doing so prevents symptoms of any plant disease or rootbound from compacted roots.

How Long Can It Take For Plants To Become Rootbound?

It may take anywhere from months to years for a plant to become rootbound. The rate at which plants become rootbound depends on size of the pot, the type of soil, and watering frequency.

Generally, plants in small pots can become rootbound much faster than those in large pots or ones with a good drainage system.

Rootbound means that the roots of the plant have filled the pot and can no longer spread out, leading to poor drainage and stunted growth.

If a plant becomes rootbound, it is a good idea to repot it in a larger container as soon as possible.

That said, regularly check plants in smaller pots for signs and symptoms of becoming rootbound.

How To Determine If a Plant is Rootbound?

Via visual symptoms, you can’t easily tell whether your plant is rootbound. Moreover, a rootbound plant’s symptoms are similar to the ones of low water-stress plants.

In root-bound, pots fill up with pretty roots growing within them. That happens when growing plants in containers or pots. These pots/containers have restricted spaces, hindering plant growth.

Therefore, the roots shoot out when the plant grows, eventually hitting the pot’s sides. Then again, these plant roots grow down, coiling around the pot. And because of that, the plant roots start filling the pot.

At first, that isn’t bad. However, as time passes, your plant will begin growing slowly. Also, your plant will need more watering. 

Those are the first symptoms of a root-bound plant. Another sign is sometimes, the roots may sneak out via drainage holes, looking for extra space. 

How To Safely Re-pot The Plant?

Here’s how to transplant your favorite plant after buying it:

  1. Pick a larger pot, a new pot that’s an inch more than the old one.
  2. If your new pot lacks drainage holes, put some charcoal/pebbles at the bottom.
  3. Add potting soil to your new plant container.
  4. Take out your plant from the old pot.
  5. Prune its roots when need is, then untangle them by loosening them a little bit.
  6. Place your plant in the new pot.
  7. Keep two-thirds of your old potting mix if it’s healthy.
  8. Put the above old soil in the plant’s new container.
  9. Pack it gently.
  10. Leave an inch from soil to pot level
  11. Water it when done.

Can Plastic Pots Damage Indoor Plants?

No. If you want your indoor plants to blossom, plastic pots are essential. Without them, most of these delicate creatures would not survive. Plastic is definitely harmless for houseplants; in fact, it might be just what they need for their thriving growth.

Let me explain why;

Overwatering is the number one cause of plant mortality, and it’s a mistake even experienced gardeners can make.

When you drown the plants in water, the excess will sit at the pot’s bottom. Consequently, the plant roots will become waterlogged and deteriorate over time.

Without access to the essential nutrients, the plant roots will begin to rot and ultimately die. Fortunately, proper drainage is a simple remedy for overwatering that can help save your green friend.

Should You Repot Plants in Garden Soil From Nursery Pots?

You shouldn’t repot your plant outside their pots unless the plant pot is somewhat small. What’s more, most indoor plants are always kept in nursery containers, allowing them to thrive for a long period of time.

The nursery containers provide some comfort to your indoor plants. So, giving them other pots won’t be necessary. But that’s unless they’ve got some special requirements. 

All said, repotting depends on your specific plant:

  • Easy-to-maintain plants that need water once a week don’t need repotting. An example of such a plant is Pothos, the Devil’s Ivy.
  • Some plants, such as orchids, are notoriously difficult to maintain and might require pot upgrade sooner.

Can The Pot Material Affect Your Decorative Foliage Plants?

1. Ceramic 

Quality – 9/10

This porous material sustains adequate airflow. This airflow stimulates root growth, leading to a healthier plant. Also, it wicks moisture away from the potting soil. Thus, saving your plant from overwatering. 

However, some plant pots sometimes come without drainage holes. So, unfortunately, you’ll need to drill the drain holes yourself. To disappoint you even further, drilling such drain holes is challenging.

2. Clay

Quality – 9/10

Clay is incredibly porous, making it the perfect material for your indoor plants. Additionaly its effects are comparable to those of ceramic materials and can help optimize growth.

Clay pots

3. Plastic

Quality – 7/10

Poor-quality plastic pots can leak some toxins into the potting soil. Thus, damaging your plants in the long run. But most pots with plastic material are safe. They are since they lack the wicking effect, usually on ceramic.

Plastic often comes with drain holes, saving the plant root from rotting.

4. Wood

Quality – 6/10

The most significant danger of wooden planter pots is rot. That causes unhealthy plant growth and sometimes plant death. But to avoid rot, line your wooden container using some plastic.

Also, drill some drain holes at the planter’s bottom, creating water drainage. 

See Also: Best wood to use for planter boxes

5. Compostable material

Quality – 5/10

Peat moss pots are among the most common pots with compostable fiber material. Well, fiber pots tend to wick a lot of water. And when they do so, your plants become thirsty.

6. Glass

Quality – 4/10

Fortunately, there’s no proof that glass material has negative effects on plants.

However, the soil and the root system form part of the growing environment. So, still, other things can affect your plants. 

For example, the growing environment has several essential bacteria communities for your plants.

7. Metal

Quality – 3/10

Damage to your plant’s roots is a common effect of metal containers. That happens if the metal pot overheats. Moreover, that easily happens when you leave the metal container under the sun.

5 Best Plants For Plastic Plant Pots

1. Spider plant

Spider plants need bright but indirect sunlight. Also, they grow well even when you hang them.

Spider plant pot size matters a lot. So, keep these snake plants in medium-sized plastic pots, approximately 12-14 cm. 

2. Aloe vera

Aloe Veras have numerous beauty and health benefits. But apart from that, they’re easy to grow. All it needs is the following:

  • About six hours of sun.
  • The appropriate aloe vera pot size
  • A suitable pot material, preferably plastic.
  • Watering each week.

Even better, watering an Aloe Vera is straightforward. Further, the Aloe can recover if the spacing between waterings is adequate.

3. Lucky bamboo

With lucky bamboo, no moisture amount is too much. The soil won’t be necessary. It’ll only need moisture when growing. Plastic or otherwise, its container size should be proper. Failure to the bamboo’s stem won’t stay upright. 

4. Ferns

Usually, Ferns use moisture formed in the air. That makes Ferns perfect for bathrooms. Then again, you’ll get away with plastic pots that retain enough moisture. And when you do so, your ferns will be happy.

Further, Ferns usually love low to moderate but indirect sunlight.

5. Orchids

Orchids love damp and high-humidity environments. So, an orchid pot from plastic is highly effective. Also, you should give them direct sunlight and avoid overwatering them. 

Here’s a useful trick:

Place an ice cube on the potting soil once after every seven days. Doing so helps your orchids get enough moisture.


How long can plants stay in nursery pots before planting?

Indoor container plants should be in the initial pots for 2-4 months. But, larger species of plants will need repotting faster, unlike smaller ones. Also, it would help to do repotting when your plants show root-bound signs.

What is a grow pot?

A grow pot is a container used to grow plants, typically to cultivate herbs, vegetables, or flowers. Grow pots can come in various sizes, materials, and shapes. And can be used indoors or outdoors. They are often made from plastic, ceramic, or fabric.

Should I repot plants after buying?

Absolutely not! It’s best to avoid repotting your new plants directly after bringing them home as this may cause root damage or transpiration stress. Instead, let the plant acclimate for at least two weeks before attempting any re-potting so that it can become familiar with its new environment. Trust me, you’ll be glad you waited until then.

Are plastic pots bad for plants?

No! Plastic pots are good for plants. Despite worries of toxic substances seeping out of plastic due to sustained contact with water or intense sunlight, the soil in a pot and the size of most hazardous molecules being too big for root absorption effectively nullifies these concerns.

How long can you leave plants unplanted?

In most cases, you should plant bare-root plants within 24 hours of buying them. If that isn’t possible, keep the plants viable until you’re ready to plant.

Do you take plants out of plastic pot?

No, you should not take your indoor plants out of the plastic pot for at least a year. Often, they come fitted in a plastic pot with drainage holes. These holes sit on the pot’s bottom. They bring in a lighter potting mix, allowing good drainage.


So, can you leave a plant in the container it came in? Absolutely yes. As we’ve seen, your plants can stay in the pot for some time before repotting. Moreover, you’ll need to feed the nursery plants with fertilizer.

Doing that makes the plants have longer shelf lives. Further, you can do a repotting when the plants show rootbound symptoms. 

You might have around four months to decide whether to repot your plants.

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