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ASK A PLANT EXPERT: How exactly do I re-pot a plant?

Every week we’re answering all your pervy questions about plants with the help of the plant geniuses over at Leaf Supply. Have a question you want answered? Send an email to [email protected] We’ve got you covered. 

Question: How exactly do I re-pot a plant? What size pot do I need?

Repotting plants is an important part of your plant care regime. Although most plants will survive in the same pot for a long time, repotting every couple of years is good practice as it provides your plant pals with the valuable nutrients found in fresh potting mix and more room for roots to spread and support healthy plant growth.

There are a few different reasons why you might repot your plant. The most common is that it has become root bound (you’ll start to see little roots peeping out the drainage hole), and needs more space to continue to grow big and strong. Limp and lacklustre plants can also often benefit from repotting as this will give them the boost they need to stop flagging growth. Other plants may have become too top heavy and need a larger pot to support the new leaf growth. While others still might be infected with pests or diseases and need a soil cleanse to help rid them of the dreaded lurgy.

The most important rule when it comes to repotting is to ensure that you don’t leap up from small to giant pot size. Rather, take the transition gradually and only go for a pot a few inches bigger in diameter each time you repot.

A few other things to keep in mind:

Be sure all your pots have drainage holes.

Buy the best quality organic indoor potting mix you can get your hands on. Keep in mind that succulents and cacti need a different mix to leafy tropical plants (potting mixes are clearly labelled as such).

It’s best to repot at the beginning of spring just before your plants have their annual growth spurt.

Repotting can be a messy business so either find a spot outdoors, use a potting tray or shallow cardboard box or spread some newspaper down to avoid too much of a dirt disaster.

Water the plant a couple of hours to day before you plan on repotting so the soil is moist and less likely to make a massive mess.

It’s always best to wear gloves when dealing with potting mix.

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Now let’s get our hands dirty:

    1. First off, fill the new pot with a small base layer of fresh potting mix.
    2. Gently pull the plant out of the original pot. A few taps on the base of the pot and a soft tug on the bottom of the stems can help but be sure not to wrench the plant out.
    3. Get your fingers into the base of the root system and gently loosen them up. Consider it like a relaxing plant massage. It will help the roots establish themselves in the new, larger pot.
    4. If you are repotting because of pests or disease, now is the time to try and remove as much of the old potting mix as possible. With your fingers is fine but be sure you’re wearing gloves and keep the infected soil away from any healthy plants.
    5. Now place the plant in its new pot. You want to make sure the plant is centred and not sitting too high. You want to be able to cover all the roots with fresh potting mix but still have a couple of centimetres (for small pots) and a couple of inches (for larger pots) between the top of the potting mix and the top of the pot. This allows for better watering.
    6. Next, fill in the sides with extra potting mix. Make sure it’s patted down firmly but not too tight as you want the roots to be able to breathe.

Always water your plant after its been repotted. This will help it feel right at home.

Et voila! A freshly repotted plant will reward you with new growth and a stronger, healthier attitude to life!

For more from the Leaf Supply column: 

Leaf Supply is an online plant store delivering lush green goodness throughout Sydney and beautiful botanical wares Australia wide. It’s the love child of friends and massive plant nerds Lauren Camilleri and Sophia Kaplan, who believe that life is better surrounded by greenery. For some serious plantspiration, follow along on instagram @leaf_supply and check out their online store.

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