‘Complete waste’ How to repot a plant – and avoid one key mistake

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Healthy plants need room to grow and not having enough space can create problems. A plant which becomes too big for its pot can have stunted growth and be stressed by the lack of room for its roots.

Plants which are not repotted when necessary may also not get enough water and nutrients which can cause them to die.

Repotting a plant gives it plenty of space to continue growing healthily and make sure it is getting everything it needs.

Common signs that a plant needs repotting include roots growing through the water holes at the bottom of the pot or when the roots begin pushing the plant higher.

These are indications that your plant has outgrown its current pot and needs a new one.

Before repotting a plant there are a few items needed to make sure everything goes smoothly.

Apart from the plant itself, a new planter will be needed as well as fresh potting mix and some water for it.

Monty Don says: “Ideally, in a pot, you just have a centimetre of fresh compost for it to grow into. Don’t be tempted to get the biggest pot you’ve got and think [your plants] will grow enormous. It won’t do it any good at all, and it’s a complete waste of compost.”

It’s handy to have a surface which can easily be cleaned to do the repotting on, and some gloves if the plant has any irritating sap.

It’s best to check if the new planter has drainage holes and if not lava rocks will be required.

The first step in repotting is to remove the plant by placing it sideways and holding the stem or leaves to help it slide out.

It can help to tap the bottom of its current pot to give it a bit of encouragement.

The plant’s roots should then be loosened by hand and any thread-thin roots pruned.

Roots which are growing in very tight circles around the plant’s base should be unbound and trimmed.

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At this point around one-third or more of the plant’s existing potting mix around the roots can be removed.

Plants take in nutrients from the mix as they grow so some fresh mix will be required to keep the plant healthy.

Once done a fresh layer of potting soil should be poured and packed into the empty planter with air pockets removed.

A pot without drainage holes at the bottom will need to be layered with lava rocks or something similar before adding the potting mix.

The plant can then be put centred on top of the fresh layer of mix while adding more around the plant until it is in a stable position.

It’s important not to put too much mix into the pot as the roots need space to breathe and grow out.

The top potting soil will then need to be evened out and the plant watered.

After repotting the plant should start to enjoy its new surroundings and grow healthily with the right amount of nutrients and space.

Newly repotted plants do not need to be fed fertiliser.

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