‘Easiest way’: The key to helping your houseplants ‘thrive’ rather than ‘merely survive’

Gardeners' World: Monty Don shows how to repot a plant

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Houseplant experts at Capital Gardens have explained how plant owners need to master the art of repotting in order to make their green friends thrive. Houseplants need repotting when they have outgrown or exhausted the compost they are growing in. Repotting allows indoor plants to continue growing and remain healthy. Most houseplants need repotting every one to two years, although some of the more rampant growers such as the spider plant and Swiss cheese plant may need repotting more frequently.

Houseplants needed to be repotted in an appropriate medium.

Gardening experts at Capital Garden have shared the do’s and don’ts that come along with repotting houseplants.

Do repot plants when they are in active growth

For many houseplants the best time to undertake repotting is from next month in spring.

This is because many plants are about to start a new growing period after being dormant over winter. 

However, autumn can also be a good time to re-pot, as many houseplants will still have a couple of months growing to do before winter.

Don’t repot plants unless it actually needs repotting

When owners first buy a houseplant the pot will be fine, but after some time it will become too small. 

There are some simple signs to look for to see if a plant needs repotting.

Firstly, lift the plant up in its pot and turn it upside down and see if any roots are poking out of the drainage holes.

If plant owners can see roots emerging from the holes then there is a good chance that it needs repotting, but for those who are not certain, then they can gently tip the plant out of its pot to inspect the whole root system. 

If the pot is packed with roots then the plant is ready to be repotted.

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Secondly, a plant needs repotting if it seems to be struggling for space in its pot. 

Some plants, for example the ZZ plant, will make it obvious when they need repotting as their thick roots and rhizomes will start distorting their pots when they get pot-bound.  While other plants, like the peace lily, produce a mat of roots on the surface of the soil when they become pot-bound.

Finally, for those who have been overly generous with the watering, their plants may need repotting in the same pot but in fresh compost to save them, as excess moisture in the compost causes roots to rot. 

If this is the case any diseased or rotting roots will need to be removed with a sharp knife, and the plant will need to be pruned back to compensate for the loss of roots.

Do use a pot with drainage holes

Drainage is important for houseplants. 

The houseplant experts said: “Getting the watering right is the key to having healthy, happy houseplants. 

“In my experience, overwatering is the most common cause of poor health and death for pot plants. 

“Using a pot with drainage holes is the easiest way of ensuring your plant doesn’t run the risk of sitting in excess water.”

Drainage holes allow air to the roots, and they also allow the flushing away of excess salts from the soil. 

The traditional way to grow houseplants is to use a pot with drainage holes and sit it on a saucer to catch the excess water. 

Do choose an appropriately sized pot

Use a clean pot that is one or two sizes larger than the original. 

Do not be tempted to over-pot, in other words, don’t move the plant into a pot that is significantly larger than the one it already is in. 

This is because over-potted plants are at risk of root-rot due to excess moisture retention by the extra volume of compost.

Do use suitable fresh potting compost

Fresh houseplant compost should always be used when repotting. 

General houseplant repotting compost is appropriate for most houseplants.

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