Spring is here which means that if your beloved plants need a repot then this is the PERFECT time to do it! They will be coming out of their more dormant phase caused by the lower light levels of winter and they will be getting ready to GO LARGE over summer.
So the big question is - how do I know if my plant needs repotting?
As plants get larger they need to anchor themselves more substantially so they grow more roots and create a larger root ball to do just that. So a really obvious sign that your plant has outgrown its current space is that lots of roots have grown out of the drainage holes of its nursery pot. Another sign can be that the plant seems to be pushing itself up & out of its pot and you can see roots poking up through the surface soil.
Even if your plant isn't showing signs of outgrowing its pot, consider how long it has been since your plant last had new soil. Potting soil can breakdown, causing it to lose valuable nutrients. It can also become compacted around your plant's roots over time, meaning it is more difficult for the roots to absorb the water they need to keep the foliage happy. Generally speaking it is therefore sensible to give your plant some shiny new potting mix every 2-3 years as a minimum to keep them thriving.
Some plants do like being root bound, like aloes and spider plants. If in doubt do a quick Google!
Soooooooo - what size pot should I use?
It's important to get the size of the new pot right. We would usually recommend only going up one pot size, the reason being is twofold. One is that your plant is likely to put a lot of its efforts in to creating lots of new roots to fill its new pot - wouldn't we all prefer the energy to go in to lovely new foliage instead? The other is that a much larger pot will hold a lot of potting mix, which when watered will hold moisture for longer. This can therefore cause your plant's roots to be sitting in much wetter soil than is good for it and this can lead to root rot, which will make your plants very sad indeed :(
One pot size is usually a couple of extra centimetres in diameter. So if your plant is currently in a 12cm diameter pot, then choose a 14cm pot. If it's currently in a 14cm then consider a 17cm (16cm are not that common!) and so on :) We would advise using a pot with drainage holes (take a look at our watering blog for the reasons why).
What about potting mix - what's best?
This topic deserves its own blog (it's on our 'to do' list!) but we'll give you a quick run down here.
The type of potting mix which is best depends on the type of plant you want to repot. Cacti and succulents prefer a mix with added grit/sand or perlite, whereas anthuriums love a very chunky mix with coarse bark which is very free draining.
You can simply buy a generic houseplant potting mix which generally speaking will be adequate for most of your plants, or you can get a bit more technical and buy special blends made specifically for certain types of plants, or you can even get DIY on it and create your own blends with individual components.
At Green Velvet we believe in treating your plants to the GOOD STUFF which is why we stock Soil Ninja's premium blends and also their individual components to make your own potting mixes. You can see our Soil Ninja collection here. And if you're not sure which premium blend would best suit your plant then check out Soil Ninja's handy guide here.
A decent enough mix to suit most of your houseplants could be:
3 parts coco coir
3 parts perlite
3 parts bark
1 part activated charcoal
A soil based fertiliser can also be added at this stage, such as worm castings or some slow release pellets.
We like to mix our own in a lidded storage container. Then all you need to do is pop your lid on and it will stay fresh and contaminate free until next time you want to use it!
ARGH! So I have my soil, but how do I repot my lovely plant?
It can be daunting first repotting plants but do not fret, it really is very easy, relaxing and enjoyable!
Repotting can definitely be a bit messy so best to set yourself up on a surface which you don’t mind getting potting mix all over! We often use an old wipeable table cloth on our kitchen table.
Get your new potting mix ready by adding some water and stirring through. It shouldn't be wet but it's best if it is moist enough to clump together a little.
Take your plant out of the old pot by squeezing the sides of the pot and pulling the plant gently out. This method usually works nicely. In severe cases of root bound plants you may need to cut the nursery pot off with scissors, especially if the roots which have grown through the drainage holes are very large and won't go back up through the pots holes without breaking.
Once the plant is out of the pot, using your fingers try removing some of the old soil, gently tease apart the roots, and remove any dead or damaged roots. If the roots have been really root bound then teasing apart the roots can be quite tricky so if this is the case just go straight to the repotting.
Add some fresh potting mix to the new pot, filling it about one-third full. Place the plant in the new pot and fill in around it with additional soil, making sure the plant is at the same level it was in the old pot. Gently press the soil down around the plant to anchor it.
Then water your plant thoroughly over a sink and allow about a third of the water to drain through. Place your plant in a bright spot for a few days, and avoid fertilising for a few weeks to give the plant time to adjust.
And that's it folks! You've just repotted your plant and now you can sit back and enjoy seeing all the lovely new growth emerging over the brighter summer months and don't forget to fertilise your plant pals over spring and summer to keep them healthy and happy.
IF IN DOUBT - GET IN TOUCH! We're always here to help with any issues your plants may be having, so drop us a message on Facebook or Insta (@greenvelvetiom) or fill in the contact form. We'll help best we can!