Asked on Mar 26, 2019

How do I plant bushes in pots?

MadelineAmandaNancy Turner


I want to plant a lilac bush and a hibiscus bush in 22 inch planters. Is there anyway the pots can be made lighter or should the entire pot be filled with potting soil?

8 answers
  • Kathy Gunter Law
    Kathy Gunter Law
    on Mar 26, 2019

    Packing peanuts in the bottom for filler or turn a plastic bowl upside down so that it creates a pocket of air.

  • Lynn Sorrell
    Lynn Sorrell
    on Mar 26, 2019

    Where do you live? how cold does it get? they may not survive deep freeze in pots how will you move them? The Lilac needs all the dirt it can get & typically won't bloom and grow poorly when their roots are restricted, so growingmost varieties in a container is challenging and another challenge to planting a Lilac shrub in a pot is getting the soil right. Lilacs can't tolerate acidic soil, and most commercial potting soils contain at least some pH lowering peat moss. The best way to handle this is to add 1 cup of dolomite lime to every 2 cubic feet of potting soil. They are hardy but only in ground in freezing temps so Hibiscus would need moved inside in winter. Also need to be careful not to overwater so providing good drainage is essential. Many times Lilacs in pots have been grafted onto other plants like a Privet bush(bottom) because the Privet can grow in the pot where the Lilac cannot so the Privet bottom supports the Lilac top keeping it blooming. need to fill the pots with soil it's best for plants

  • Jojo
    on Mar 26, 2019

    I have to insist, the most important thing when planting in any container, is to have a drainage hole. I have many years working at a farmers market, and this is often overlooked. Roots need to breathe in order to develop and nourish the plants, and they don't like standing in water. It will cause them to rot, plain and simple. What I would use is anything light you may have like old plastic 4inch flower pots, put upside down works fine, or perlite is a good alternative. I'm not sure what variety of Lilac you were considering, but they do ramify (spread by roots) and it could become pot bound unless you choose a new hybrid mini. The Hibiscus will be just fine, but they like to be pot bound to bloom. So, if your plant is say in a 10 inch pot, I'd leave it, if already in bloom, and just place it in the 22 inch planter and fill in around with a good soil mix. This way you won't be waiting for it to fill up the planter. Give a good handful of 15-15-15 pellet plant food, pop it in a sunny spot and enjoy! Wish I knew where exactly you live to help a bit better, but I think you're good to go. Happy blooming!! ;-) I'm still looking at 3 feet of snow here LOL

    • Merri
      on Mar 26, 2019

      Thank you for your help. It is supposedly a lilac bush purchased from robertas farms.

      Soon to be delivered. I thought it would be easier to put in a 22 inch pot. I live in central nj and the soil is sandy. Everything seems to die when placed in the ground.

  • Laura Cooper
    Laura Cooper
    on Mar 26, 2019

    I've used the same technique as Kathy

  • William
    on Mar 26, 2019

    Plastic bottles or packing peanuts like Kathy suggests.

  • Nancy Turner
    Nancy Turner
    on Mar 26, 2019

    I have my hibiscus in pots, I put in a layer of rocks on the bottom and made sure there was more than enough drainage in the pots, some larger pots don't always have drainage holes punched out. My hubby made thick marine plywood bases with four casters on each so that you could move them around easily. Mine have to come in each fall since it gets so cold here in the fall and winter. Why are you planting a lilac in a pot, it may not get very big. My hibiscus are thriving and growing and flowering really well in pots. They like to be rootbound in their pots, so you may need to watch what size pots you are putting them in, you don't want to plant them in pots that are too big to start. A size or two bigger pot than what they are in now is all the bigger you should go. Make sure to fertilize with something made for blooming plants/bushes, and watch the weather for watering, when it is real hot, they will require more water as pots dry out quicker than in ground. Don't keep them too wet or they will get root rot. During hot weather I find they need watering every day to every other day. I have also found that the hibiscus didn't like all day sun, they bloomed less when they had more afternoon sun. When I moved them so that they mostly got morning and late afternoon/evening sun they started putting out more blooms right away. You will just need to figure out what kind of sun yours want.

    • Nancy Turner
      Nancy Turner
      on Mar 26, 2019

      Hibiscus can turn into small trees, mine are about five feet tall. Lilacs can also grow big enough to be considered a tree, my next door neighbor has one planted on the side of her house by us and it is taller than the roof of her ranch style home. I do agree that they would be better off in pots with all the sand you have. You will have to bring both of them into the house for the winter. Anything in pots will be affected more by just being in pots vs in ground and the roots will freeze over the winter and most likely the lilac will not come back, the same with the hibiscus since it is a tropical plant. Even the hibiscus that is considered a perennial for the northern stakes, the roots will freeze and most likely not come back. That is why I have all my larger pots on casters, I can bring them around the back door in the fall and place them in the library that we set up to take all the outdoor pots that need to come in to overwinter in the warm house to survive.

  • Amanda
    on Mar 27, 2019

    Hi Merri. You can cut up pool noodles, use plastic water bottles, or packing peanuts. If you use the packing peanuts make sure they are the older kind not the ones that desolve with water. Good Luck!

  • Madeline
    Just now

    Add empty water bottles to fill the the planter, helps to make it lighter too !

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