Repotting. When, why, what and how? This can be a bit of a minefield, but really doesn’t need to be. Like us, all plants have very different needs. You will often hear people say “well I haven’t re-potted mine for ten years and it’s fine! You don’t need to fuss with all that stuff” Ok, that’s great babes, but is it thriving or just surviving??
Root size and shape are different for every plant - some thick, some thin, some have massive root balls (the amount of roots), others, you would not even know were there. Some plants like to be rootbound in the pot, whereas others want loads of room to spread out!
When should I repot?
Plants that have large root systems and will need repotting more often include Monsteras, Ficus, ZZ’s, Philodendron and Pothos - these type of plants are known as Aroids. It’ll be obvious when these varieties outgrow their nursery pots, as their roots will begin to bust out of the drainage holes in the bottom. It’s worth always keeping a check on these as your plant may start looking a bit peaky if its roots need more room to wiggle.
Plants with shallow root systems include Begonias, Peperomias and most succulents and cacti. These will not need repotting as often BUT they will still need a fresh batch of potting mix now and again to keep the plants and its roots healthy, and to give them a fresh dose of nutrients.
We’d also recommend that you repot at the start of the growing season, which is usually Spring. In the winter, most houseplants become dormant and stop growing. By repotting just before the growing season, a big dose of fresh potting mix and nutrients = lots of new growth!
Why should I repot?
Roots are the driving force behind your plant, whilst their luscious leaves absorb all that vitamin D from the sun, the roots draw in all the moisture and nutrition needed from the soil that surrounds them. There are only so much nutrients in soil so once its all been sucked up, its time for a fresh new batch to feed your plant.
If you can, carefully squeeze your plant out its nursery pot it’s good to check on your roots, healthy roots should be white or a pale beige colour, they should be full, not shrivelled and be able to hold the soil in the shape of your pot. If they look brown, mushy or don’t hold the soil together then that bad boy is in need of some TLC.
What should I repot in?
There are looooads of different varieties of houseplant potting mix out there (including our own!) but as a rule of thumb a good mix needs to tick these three boxes...
Drainage - perlite, vermiculite, bark - if your potting mix includes any of these things then it’s likely to drain the water well, so you avoid the dreaded root rot.
Aeration - roots need oxygen to do their thang so make sure you have some larger chunks in there to allow air flow, bark is really great for this.
Nutrients - this can be listed as any type of slow-release nutrient. In our Nook potting mix, we like to keep it natural, so we use worm castings (it’s basically worm poo, but it’s super good for houseplants)
How should I repot?
So - we’ve gone over why we need to re-pot and what we need to use, now let’s look at how. We recommend you only repot into something that’s two sizes bigger than the current pot your plant is in, so if your plant is currently in a 12cm nursery pot then a 16cm is a good increase. If you choose a pot that is too large it can swamp the roots and shock your plant. By shocked we mean it could start to drop some leaves (not shocked like when we found out Darth was Luke’s Dad or that Dan was actually Gossip girl).
Right, you’ve got your new pot, you’ve got your potting mix - now its time for the transplant. It’s important that you remove as much of the old soil as possible without damaging the roots - this soil has no goodness left so shake it all off. You can give the root ball a little tickle and tease out some of the soil gently if it’s jammed in there.
Expose as much of the roots as you can, so you can have a good look at those babies!
Now it’s time for the exciting bit! Fill a third of your new, empty pot with potting mix, place the plant in and gently fill in around it with the extra mix.
Avoid pushing down on the top of the soil - we want to keep that air flow remember and not condense the soil too much, and to make sure that new roots can move freely through the soil.
Finally, give that sucker a good drink! Now you can sit back with a cuppa/gin/wine, safe in the knowledge that you've done a great thing for your plant pal, and snap 736 photos of it to share on social media (#repotted). And don’t forget to tag us in it too so we know how you got on!