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Sooner or later all container plants need repotting. Some benefit from repotting every year. Others can wait longer, but it’s amazing what fresh potting mix can do for a worn-out houseplant, tree or shrub

Poor growth, yellowed foliage or poor flowering are signs it might be time to repot. Old potting mix lacks useful nutrients and after years of watering, contains a build up of less than useful (or toxic) chemicals. Potting mix that’s jam-packed with roots actually repels water.

Repot into the next sized pot, or if you don’t want your plant to grow larger, you can return it to the same pot, restricting its size by restricting its roots.

Repotting into the same pot

Generally it is a good idea to water a plant an hour or so before repotting, but if your plant is tightly holding to its pot, letting it dry out slightly will help you get it out without breaking the pot. Once it’s out, remove up to a quarter of the old potting mix from around the roots. Tease out any matted roots, letting the old potting mix fall away. Use a sharp knife to remove any roots that are rotten or broken. If you remove a lot of root mass, its best to trim the top of the plant by about the same amount. Take the opportunity to wash the pot out before repotting your plant into fresh planting mix. Then water thoroughly.

Potting tips

  • Before replanting in old pots, scrub them with soapy water to remove traces of pests and diseases.
  • A piece of weed matting over the drainage hole helps keep potting mix in and bugs out.
  • If using water crystals, pre-soak them to form a gel and then mix thoroughly into the potting mix. You can add slow-release fertiliser or wetting-agent granules at the same time.
  • If a plant becomes dried out while you get around to planting, revive it by dunking it into a bucket of water (until the bubbles stop rising) before removing it from its nursery pot.
  • When replanting into the new pot, allow a gap of a few centimetres between the potting mix and the top of the pot. This prevents water spilling over the sides at watering time. It also allows space for a finishing layer of decorative pebbles, which helps keep moisture in and weeds out.



Look for these products, tips and advice at a Go Gardening Store near you.



hostas pots
Hostas and Buxus in pots

Heuchera ina different sort of container