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It’s Potting Time: When and How to Re-pot your Plants

It’s Potting Time: When and How to Re-pot your Plants

Did you know that most house plants, particularly indoor plants, begin their active growing season from spring? As a result, you may find that they will outgrow their pots this summer. 

Some plants do benefit from being in a more “constrained” pot, such as orchids, peace lilies (Spathiphyllum) and Mother-in-Law’s Tongue (Sansevieria). However, it is important to upsize every 12 to 18 months, depending on how much they grow during their active season. Many succulents can remain in the pot that they are in for a few years, as they may be pretty slow-growing, thus all you’ll need to do is replenish or refresh the potting medium.

One thing to bear in mind if you’re working with a plant that isn’t looking particularly happy, is that repotting it may worsen its condition if it is already stressed. If your plant has started sacrificing its foliage in an attempt to preserve energy for growing, do check the watering and light conditions it is growing in first and work on amending those if they’re not optimal.

When do you know if you need to re-pot or not?

If you see that the roots are growing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, or the roots are pushing the plant out of the container, that is a sure sign to re-pot. Similarly, if your plant isn’t thriving as well as it should (the leaves are yellowing continually), the top soil seems heavier or the foliage has grown tremendously, it is time to get working! 

How do you go about re-potting your plant?

If your plant looks happy in the pot that it is in, you may not need to put it in a new container. However, you will need to change the soil or potting mix as it may be depleted of nutrients or it’s holding too many salts. 

The size of the new pot is important because we instinctively give plants more water if they are in a bigger container. If there is a small plant in a big container, the plant is often watered according to the size of the container and not the size of the plant - which leads to us killing the plant with kindness.

All it may need is a little extra room to grow into. If you can see that the plant is outgrowing its pot, then the general rule of thumb when repotting up a size is to get a pot that is about 2 – 5 cm larger if the pot size is 25 cm or less. So, if you have a 15 cm pot, go up to either 18 or 20 cm. For pots of 30 cm or more, take them up by 5cm in size.  

First of all, water the plant the day before. The following morning, gently remove the plant from its current container by turning it sideways, holding it by the stem. Now gently squeeze the sides of the pot (if it is plastic) to help pull the soil away from the sides and tap the bottom of the pot to loosen things up a bit. Then slide the plant out. 

Next, loosen the roots out a bit. If you notice any threadlike, extra-long roots, trim those off and make sure that the thicker roots at the base of the foliage aren’t damaged. If your plant is “pot-bound” (where the roots are growing round in circles), gently tease them out and possibly give them a bit of pruning. 

Make sure that you have the correct potting mix for the plant, remember not all soil is created equal. If you are not sure, do a bit of research into what medium your plant prefers before replanting. (Do not use soil from the garden!)

You won’t be keeping all the soil from the current pot around the plant’s roots, as it is more than likely totally depleted of nutrients. Instead, remove at least a half to two-thirds of the old potting mix from around the roots. 

Pour a layer of fresh potting mix or soil into the pot you’ll be using (either a newer, bigger one or the original which you have washed and sterilised) and gently pack it down to ensure there aren’t any air pockets. Pokon potting soil is a good choice as it has an excellent mix of raw materials that stimulates healthy plant development.  

Centre your plant on top of this layer and add potting mix around the plant. Make sure the soil isn’t too compressed around the plant, as you want space for the roots to breathe but enough to ensure it’s securely held. Then just even out the medium, making sure that the stem of the plant doesn’t get covered too high and that it is still at it’s original soil level. Don’t forget to water it well. There is no need to add fertiliser at this stage as most good potting mediums contain enough nutrients to get the plants through a few months. 

What are you waiting for? Grab those gardening gloves and upgrade your plants’ living quarters today! 

If you need any more information about repotting your plants please reach out to us here.

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