Can Shrubs Be Planted in Pots?

If you’ve started on your landscaping, you may be wondering what you can get away with. Not all of us have lawns or garden beds to line our property, but we still want a little greenery. A shrub in a pot that might be a good solution.

Shrubs can be planted in pots as long as your pot is the right size. Plants that are too small might prevent your plants from growing as big as they should. If the plant pots are too big, your plant will be fine, but you’ll spend more on the soil.

Below, I’ll go over some keys to planting your shrubs in pots and give you some information on which shrubs prefer direct sowing. Additionally, I’ll go over some repotting basics.

Planting Your Shrub in a Pot

You’ll plant your shrub in the pot the same way you’d do so for any other plant. Make sure you have the right soil and a watering plan, and the shrub will need enough sunlight. Within the soil, you’ll need the right pH and microorganisms to help nourish your plants. When you look for a plant pot, you’ll need one big enough for the shrub, too.

Some plants might do better just getting sown directly into the ground, but you should check the plant preferences before going forward. You’ll need to:

  • Choose the right pot
  • Check potting conditions
  • Make sure soil pH is correct
  • Change your care methods

There isn’t a more specific universal checklist for planting shrubs in pots because all plants prefer something a little different. Let’s go over some of the basic things you can expect when adding a shrub to a pot.

Choosing the Right Pot

For shrubs, you need a plant pot with proper drainage. There are tons of gorgeous landscaping pots that, though big, won’t have enough drainage. To solve this, most garden stores offer smaller plastic black and white versions of all-sized pots that you can put into your larger pot. This way, the water will drain properly.

You could always drill holes into your pot, but be cautious. Terracotta or glass pots may completely crack. You’d be better off using a plastic inner pot in this case. I’ve listed some recommendations below.

The Furinno Hardwood Lifestyle Planter

The Furinno Hardwood Lifestyle Planter (available on is a good pick if you like functionality. This one is on the lower end of the budget, has a seat, and two different places to plant your shrubs. There’s no bottom in the plant pot part, so you can add the plastic pots with drainage or even sow directly into the ground.

Veradek Metallic Series Cube Medium Planter

If you’re okay spending a little more, the Veradek Cube Medium Planter (available on is a gorgeous option. It’s large, which is great for big shrubs. You’ll be able to put a plastic pot in there with proper drainage with no problem because it’s so big.

Classic Home and Garden Pot

The Classic Home Whiskey Pot (available on is the perfect size for starting your shrub out without breaking the bank. You could use this pot when you first get your shrub instead of investing in a larger one just for your shrub to die. It also comes in quite a few colors.

Potting Conditions and Soil

Most plants have specific potting conditions. When you purchase a shrub, you’ll need to look for the following:

  • Sunlight preferences. Check if the plant needs partial or full sun and how many hours a day they need.
  • Watering preferences. Shrubs will typically take more water than your other plants, especially when they get bigger. Some big shrubs will need a gallon of water a week, much different than the inch your vegetables need!
  • Ideal soil pH. Most shrubs need more acidic soil than alkaline.
  • Preferred nutrients. Like humans, plants need all their nutrients to be healthy and happy. However, you’ll find that some plants appreciate certain nutrients more than other plants do.
  • Temperature preferences. Unfortunately, a tropical shrub won’t do wonderful anywhere. Check to see what temperature your plants prefer.

A dog rose and a raspberry shrub are going to have different needs. There are some generalities you can follow, but you’ll be better served looking at what your shrub needs.

How To Care for a Potted Shrub

You’ll want to constantly check your potted shrub for drainage issues. Garden beds and lawns drain a little differently than a pot will.

Sometimes, potted plants get mold or mildew if the water doesn’t drain properly. Water may compact your soil, too, which makes it impossible for the roots to grow. Your plant will have very little growth if they don’t get the right amount of water.

I’d highly recommend getting a moisture meter to ensure your plants get enough water. Moisture meters can also detect pH, soil temperature, and sunlight if you buy a 5-in-1 model.

When you’ve noticed your plant isn’t growing any longer, it’s time to move it to a bigger pot or add it to the ground. Do this sooner rather than later, or the roots will continue to grow and tangle with each other, making it even harder for you to repot.

How Long Can Shrubs Live in Pots?

Now that you’ve learned how to grow your shrub in a pot, you might be curious about how long you can expect to be caring for your plant. Believe it or not, you won’t have to change much about plant care even though it’s not in the ground.

Shrubs can live in pots for their whole life as long as the plant pot is big enough. Pots are more susceptible to bacteria growth and mold. Make sure you are monitoring the soil, sunlight, and water intake of the plant.

On average, shrubs can live 7-10 years. With that being said, you’ll still want to make sure you have all of the ideal conditions in place for your shrubs. Make sure to thoroughly clean out plant pots before putting your shrub in, especially if you’ve just bought it.

How Do I Repot a Shrub?

As the decorations around your home change, you may want to change your shrubbery pots. I wouldn’t suggest doing this with the holidays, but a yearly refresh might be an exciting change. It’s pretty straightforward to repot your shrubs.

You can repot your shrub by loosening soil from the roots and transferring it to a different pot with the soil already there. Make sure this pot is the right size. You will repot your shrub the same way you’d repot other plants, just on a larger scale.

The soil in the ground should mirror the pH and nutrients in your plant pot. If you’re going to sow directly into the ground, just make sure this doesn’t come as too much of a shock to your plant. Make sure to give it lots of water as it settles in.

This ten-minute YouTube video shows you step by step how to repot your shrubs:

You might need more than one person to help you with this repotting.

Final Thoughts

Shrubs can grow in pots just fine, and many people opt for this way of growing as it makes a more aesthetically pleasing impression.

Ensure you get a pot with proper drainage and enough room for your shrub to grow its thick, ever-expanding roots. Otherwise, your shrub may have stunted growth or even die. It might be a good idea to get a moisture meter, too, to ensure they’re getting enough water.

When you want to repot your shrub, look for the same things you did in your original pot and then add a quarter foot for growth.


Image Credits


Hi I'm Mike, a self-proclaimed plantician (an invented profession to describe a plant enthusiast). Based in Sydney Australia, I enjoy the great outdoors and the greenery things around the garden, in particular, indoor climbing plants.

Recent Posts