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How to re-pot your plants : The signs, what size pot & when todo it?

How to re-pot your plants : The signs, what size pot & when todo it?

So is it time to re-pot? What signs do I look out for and what things do I consider when choosing my plant’s newly potted home?

Actually, when is the best time to re-pot?

Does size matter? Well, sort of. Plants happily grow in the world’s biggest pot - mother earth, but there are some things we need to consider when growing in pots.

Putting plants in a pot is an unnatural environment. Soil moisture, fertiliser,
temperature and microbes are all determined by the choices we make when we pot our plants. If we don’t get it right then our potted plants will always struggle.

If you’re repotting because your plant is simply not doing it for you in its current pot (aesthetic reasons), you can take the opportunity to repot and use a slightly bigger pot. If it has been in the pot for more than six months, it is going to love all that fresh new, nutrient-rich potting mix. If the roots are still a bit sparse then it is fine to pop it back into the same size pot.

What if I'm re-potting because I just think it needs a bigger home? How do I tell?
Signs to look out for...
● Roots are growing through the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter
● Roots are pushing the plant up out of the planter
● Plant is growing slower than normal (different than dormant)
● Plant is extremely top-heavy, falls over easily
● Plant dries out quicker than the norm
● Noticeable salt and mineral build-up on the plant or planter
● Potting mix has slumped (or compacted ) in the pot which means not enough air
and oxygen for the roots

Plants generally like to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, but some slow growers can call the same pot home for years. Spring is the best time to repot your houseplants and liquid feed every 2-4 weeks during the growing season.

Pick that pot

If your plant has outgrown it's current home (bursting at the seams) don't be too generous, it’s best to gradually move up in pot size. This way every few years you can give it a new lease on life by giving it a fresh potting mix.

For example Plants in a Box, houseplants come in a few different sizes; 40mm, 50mm, 85mm and 125mm grow pots. So for the 40 & 50mm tubes, we recommend a 170mm diameter pot, and no larger than 250mm for the 85mm pots (our big babes)

Please, people just make sure your pot has a hole in it.

Some pots have drainage; others do not. It’s a pretty straightforward distinction, and yet that little hole at the bottom of your pot can make a world of difference.

Some people say not to do it after all drainage holes are crucial to your plant's health. But Is it possible to keep your plant in a pot without drainage holes? Yes, but with caution. Watch our video on "how to create your own pot inserts for ANY planter/pot/vase with no hole.

What happens if I like totally choose the wrong pot?

If you re-pot your plants into a too-larger pot, there is a risk that you will overwater your plants. A smaller plant means fewer leaves, less transpiration and less water needed. If you have a pot with a large volume of soil compared to the size of the plant, chances are that you will keep the mass too wet and your poor little plant virtually drowns. Constant soggy soil means, aeration around roots is poor and this allows for fungal infection and root rot to set in.

Plants can suffer the same fate in your yard if the soil is not free draining but generally this is less likely to happen. Out on your balcony and garden, your plants are exposed to a greater range of weather conditions (sun and wind) that means the soil will dry out faster through evaporation from the soil and transpiration through the plant foliage.

For any sized plant that needs re-potting, we recommend shifting to a pot around
5-10cm larger in diameter. If it is a very fast-growing plant you can get away with going a bit bigger. This gives your plant enough space for new root growth.

What is transplant shock then?

Transplant shock is where a plant does not cope well with a change in its environment. This is more of an issue in our garden where we decide that we no longer want that large shrub in that spot any more. We dig it up, which means damaging all those roots in the process, shift it to a location that has different conditions and it has to readjust to all these changes.
It is not as critical with indoor plants as we are not generally damaging the roots to any great extent, in fact, they usually thrive since it is getting fresh soil and nutrition. What you do need to watch is that you put it back into the same location after repotting until it settles into the new pot.

This means it has the same light, temperature and air movement as what it had before. Giving your plants a liquid feed after potting is also helpful. The key to a successful repot is to get the moisture levels right. Too wet is as equally bad as too dry. When your plants arrive in the mail, give them a drink (only if they need it). Let them readjust to the light conditions (remember they have been in a dark box for a few days) before you go gangbusters re-potting them.

Alocasia re-potting guide

Colour and Material

The material your new pot is made from and its colour can actually influence how often your plant needs to be watered. Here are some things that you’ll want to consider.

  1. Unglazed terracotta pots are porous - so the water will evaporate through the fine holes in the clay sides. This means the soil will dry out faster than plastic or ceramic pots.
  2. Hanging baskets also tend to dry out faster especially the wire and coir ones.
  3. If you have dark coloured pots out on your balcony or deck, they will heat up by absorbing the sun's rays and dry out faster than their lighter-coloured counterparts. This is not such an issue for indoor plants as they are usually not getting that direct, intense sun.

For a step by step guide, you can watch our re-potting video below.

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