In their natural environment, plants live in soil, on trees, or in bodies of water. They are connected to the flow of water and nutrients, absorbing these primarily through their root system.
With houseplants, we are simulating this natural environment inside the plant pot through soil that contains nutrients, air and moisture. Over time, the plant roots will grow, the nutrition will decrease, and you may need to consider repotting your plant. In the process of repotting, you may decide to increase the pot size, which is called “potting up”.
Let’s take a look at these two plant care activities:
With potting-up, an additional step is added to the repotting process, which we will explore below. Let’s first take a look at the signs that tell you that repotting is required.
You may need to repot if your plant:
These are the signs that indicate that you may need to repot.
DO ALL PLANTS LIKE TO HAVE A LOT OF ROOT SPACE?
The challenge with root bound plants is that the roots grow in a circle, in and around themselves, suffocating the plant from oxygen and reducing the ability for it to absorb nutrients. Some plants however do well when root bound. Peace Lilies, Mother in Law’s Tongues, and the Ficus genus - these are examples of plants that enjoy their roots being bound. Be sure to google what your plant likes, and decide from there.
WHEN NOT TO REPOT?
When your plant is under stress due to over-watering, under-watering or under an attack of pests or diseases, changing the growing medium at such a time will add further stress to your plant. First deal with the problem before considering repotting, as these actions are not the solution for these problems.
WHEN IS THE BEST TIME TO REPOT?
The best time to repot is at the beginning of spring or during summer, on a mildly warm day. It’s best not to repot during the cooler months as plants go into dormancy and generally don’t like to be disturbed.
While it’s best to repot every 12 - 18 months, some slower growing plants can go for even longer periods without needing any repotting (just a top layer of fresh soil now and then), while young, fast growing plants usually need to be repotted once a year.
Follow these steps to Repot your Plant:
It’s at this stage, that you may either be done. Or you may decide to increase the pot size by potting up.
When would you decide to pot up during repotting?
If this is the case, pot up your plant by following the Repotting steps 1-3 above, and adding a larger pot.
Generally, when potting up, ideally increase the pot size in ±5cm increments. e.g. a 15cm pot would go to an 18cm or 20cm. A 30cm pot would increase to a 35cm pot.
Increasing the pot size beyond this introduces the risk of overwatering with a soil to root ratio that is too high.
Choosing the right soil mix is important during the repotting process. While there are many different types of soil, we’re only going to briefly discuss 4 types below:
Repotting is an essential part of a house plant’s lifecycle. Do it at the right time, and you’ll enjoy a healthy, happy plant for years to come!