When should I re-pot my plant?

The most wonderful thing about it your plant is that it’s alive and so, given the opportunity, it’s going to grow.

After a while it might need a bigger pot to keep it from toppling over, or to give it’s roots some extra room and fresh soil.

Patch houseplants come in pots that they’ll usually be happy in for at least a year, so there’s no need to get your hands dirty repotting them for quite a while.

A lot of houseplants are quite happy in pretty snug pots. They don't need a lot of space for their roots. However, if you can see a lot of roots (not just one or two) growing out of the drainage holes in your plant's pot it might be time to consider repotting. Only upgrade the size slightly. Moving to an enormous pot too quickly can cause your plant to go into shock.

If you don’t want your plant to grow as fast, keeping it in the same size pot can help, however you will still need to replenish the soil after a year or two if it’s looking unhealthy as the soil breaks down and compacts around the roots. This stops air from reaching the them and impedes drainage, which can cause the roots to rot.

When it’s time to give your plant a pot upgrade, or a new batch of soil, here’s what you need to know. It’s best to repot in spring, before your plant goes into its main growing phase.

You’ll need a plastic pot (make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom), the correct type of soil mix for your plant, some drainage material, clean scissors and gloves - if you don’t want to get your hands dirty.

Start by loosening the plant from its existing pot. Remove it by holding your hand over the plant and soil surface, tipping the pot upside down so the plant falls out to rest in your hand. You might need to give the pot a good tap to get the plant out. If your plant is too big to hold in your hands - carry them outside or lay out lots newspaper, remove them from their decorative pot and lie them down on their side. Tap the sides of their nursery pot to loosen the roots and then gently shuffle the pot backwards. Gently loosen the roots with your hands and repot into a new, larger plastic pot.

The plastic pot must have holes in the bottom to allow excess water to drain away. If there’s only one drainage hole in the bottom of your pot you should add some pebbles or broken pieces of china for drainage, but you can skip this if there are lots of holes.

Next add a layer of soil, as well as some slow-release fertiliser for an extra nutrient boost unless the soil already has fertiliser in it.

You should have enough soil in the bottom of the pot to lift the top of your plant’s root ball to 1-2cm below the pot rim. Gently place the plant on top of this soil and fill in the space around your plant with extra compost. Give it a good watering, and you’re all set!

It might take your plant some time to get used to its upgrade, so during the next week keep it out of bright light and hold back on the water.

If you don’t want your houseplant to grow larger, once you get it out of its pot, you can trim an inch or two off the roots with sharp, clean scissors and re-pot in its existing pot with new soil.


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