Gardening and Plant FAQs

Q: How do I Repot Pot Bound Container Plants?

If you empty a plant out of itís pot, see very little compost and just a tangled mess of roots then it is pot bound.

Pot bound plants usually experience reduced growth, need watering more frequently and generally do not thrive as well as other container grown plants.

Ideally pot plants on before they become pot bound. Spring is the best time to pot on, when full active plant growth is just beginning. New compost provides fresh food and increased water storage capacity for container grown plants. Here is a step by step guide to potting on:

  1. Water the plant well in the old pot before potting on, this makes it much easier to ease it out of the pot with minimal root damage.
  2. Pot on into a pot of the next size up, if you jump up too many sizes it will probably result in flower loss due to excessive new leaf and root development.
  3. There are some plants such as Agapanthus that actually like being pot bound and flower best when the roots are restricted. Best to check if your plant is similar to this first.
  4. Place some pieces of broken pot, polystyrene pieces or gravel in the bottom of the new pot to aid drainage.
  5. Then add a layer of fresh compost to an appropriate depth, the plant needs to be planted at the same depth as before in its new pot.
  6. Place the plant on the new compost in the base of the pot and fill in the sides with fresh compost, firming down as you do so.
  7. The plant is now surrounded with fresh compost in the new pot. It is slightly lower in the pot than the rim, this helps when watering, allowing space for the water to soak in rather than running over the edge of the pot to waste.
  8. If your plant is in such a large pot that it is impossible to pot on, it can be Ďtop dressedí. The top layer of old compost is carefully removed with a blunt instrument and replaced with fresh compost. This method can also be used on plants that resent root disturbance or like to have restricted, pot bound roots.

Filed under FAQs: General Plant Care.

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