How to Fill Your Large Garden Pots

Using large garden pots can be a dramatic accent when added to the right space. But, the issue of size and weight may create challenges to think about. There are ways to have the look you desire without breaking your back. Here are a few tips to help you with large pot projects.

Choosing Your Pot

Make sure the pot you’ve chosen has at least one hole in the bottom to allow for adequate drainage. Even when adding materials to the bottom of your pot to help improve drainage it’s still necessary to have a place for the excess water to go. If not, that water can easily become stagnant and create a perfect environment for mold growth and root-killing bacteria.


Of course plant roots want to be surrounded by potting soil, but using it to fill the whole pot is not recommended. The more soil your pot has, the more water it will retain, although in a huge pot it may take a fairly large amount of water just to moisten all the soil.

Weight is the other consideration. The weight of the soil can compress and compact the soil, thus affecting drainage and root growth. Lightening things up is also helpful if you ever need to move your pot. If your pot sits on a structure such as a balcony or a deck, the weight of a dirt filled pot might create issues that could be significant.

If you fill the bottom with some kind of lightweight material, you can save money and decrease the weight of a heavy pot.


You can use everything from:

  • pine bark nuggets (Pam’s suggestion)
  • milk jugs
  • soda bottles
  • crushed soda cans
  • broken pottery
  • packing peanuts (inside mesh bags)

There are also products designed just for this such as Ups A Daisy, an insert available in assorted sizes to sets right into your pot.

Ups A Daisy Planter Insert

Available at Pam’s Greenhouses

Plant Caddy

Pot Movers

Our greenhouses also carry the Down Under Plant Caddie which is available in assorted sizes and the largest can move up to 500 lbs.

Once you have your filler laid in the bottom 1/4 to 1/3 of your pot, it’s a good idea to separate the filler from the soil. A piece of plastic screening will work nicely and makes cleaning up and emptying much easier at the end of the season.

To give your plants a great start make sure you add the appropriate amenities to your soil or choose a ready-made planting mix. Our greenhouses carry Miracle-Gro Planting Mix, along with a new choice this year: Proven Winners Premium All Purpose Potting Soil.


Depending on where your pot will be located (sun, part-sun, or shade) choose plants that enjoy the same amount of light. For interest, add trailing plants as well as vertical growing plants that will achieve various heights and fullness.

Have fun and enjoy being creative!