All about re-potting plants
In order to keep your houseplants healthy it's important to re-pot them every now and then. The main purpose is to offer plant-roots more space and/or to give your plants fresh potting soil. Want to know how it works? Here's our step-by-step explanation!
Step 1: release the plant from its present pot
Sometimes we forget to re-pot our plants regularly, which is why their root balls get firmly stuck to the pot. If your plants won't come out carefully dislodge the root ball by scooping it out, using a small and preferably flat hand trowel. Tilt the pot or turn it upside-down, tap it strongly and no doubt you'll release the plants quite easily.
Step 2: selecting the right pot size
For any plant that totally fills its pot, a new pot should be at least 1 centimetre wider, to give roots some extra space. Do refrain from using a very large pot, in which potting soil will remain wet for a long time. Naturally, provided plant roots still have all the space they need,you won't need larger pots should you wish to transplant your plants solely to put them in more attractive pots. Sometimes you might wish to re-pot a plant in order to allow it some fresh potting soil whilst it doesn’t really need more space (e.g. a Kalanchoë). In that case gently scrape some tired potting soil from its root ball, scoop a layer of fresh soil into the pot, return the plant to its pot and fill with more fresh soil.
Step 3: ensure good drainage
For good drainage scatter a layer of hydro-grains onto the bottom of the pot; now plant-roots won't stay waterlogged as superfluous water drains quickly. Incidentally, do make sure that pot plants in the garden or on the terrace are always put in pots with sufficient drainage holes, meaning your plants cannot drown in rainy weather, which will eventually cause root-rot.
Step 4: putting the plant in its pot
Scoop a layer of potting-soil into the pot and place the root ball on top. Check that the plant is neither too high or too low, by either removing or adding some soil. Keep about 1 centimetre free, measured from the top of the soil to the top of the pot - that will prevent water from flowing over the edge.
Step 5: fill the pot carefully
Fill the pot carefully on all sides and push the soil firmly down.
Step 6: supplement with hydro-grains
You may wish to scatter a layer of hydro-grains on top which will absorb superfluous water and pass it on it to the soil should it dry out.
Step 7: watering
Do water well after re-potting, ensuring new potting-soil will enclose the root ball. Continue watering, but only once or twice a week; that really is sufficient. Watering modestly is much better than overwatering, which turns a plant lazy. Rainwater is best for your houseplants.
Put pots with drainage-holes on saucers
Are your houseplants in pots with drainage-holes? Stand them on (terracotta) saucers or in attractive ornamental pots. These absorb excessive water and won't cause stains on your floor or windowsill. Pot-plants outside should be put on terracotta saucers during dry spells only. By regularly pouring water into these saucers your plants will suffer less quickly from drought. Remove saucers during wet spells, as excessive water cannot run off, causing plant-roots to rot.
How often do I need to re-pot my plants?
Fast-growing plants need to be re-potted once a year, slow growers every two to three years. Best transplant them in March or April, just before the growing-season starts.
Dividing plants and taking cuttings
Some houseplants, Spatiphyllum in particular, tend to get rather bushy. However, you can divide them quite easily. Carefully cut or pull the root ball into two or three parts and put them into separate pots. Other plants, such as Pilea Peperomioides, can easily be divided by gently removing the tiny new plants from the mother plant. Again, put these little ones into separate pots. Now older plants profit from more space and will not need a larger pot for the time being. Besides, by dividing or taking cuttings you ''make'' lots of new plants, which also serve as perfect gifts.
Nutrients in potting-soil
Fresh potting-soil contains sufficient plant food for about six weeks. After that add extra fertilizer. As pot-plants have far less access to soil and therefore to nutrients, adding extra fertilizer is definitely more important to them then to plants grown in the garden.