[Philodendron Imperial Green from Stamford Botanics]
Though repotting may come easy to some, it can also be super easy to over think, especially if it’s your first time. When you discover your love for houseplants it’s such a magical feeling, especially watching new growth unfurl not long after you’ve brought it home. You may even feel like a green goddess. BUT, collecting plants takes a little more than just sitting back and watching them grow. Nurturing your plants and caring for them will help your little green babes thrive!
Since we’re so fond of getting down and dirty, we thought we’d break it down on how we actually do it!
LET’S GET DIRTY
What you’ll need;
• A tarp/newspaper or a station to repot onto
• Ideal Soil.Ninja substrate for the plant you’re repotting
• A shovel, scoop or even your hands if you don’t mind getting a little more dirty
• Selection of nursery or terracotta pots (Make sure it has drainage!)
Roll out your tarp or even lay out some old newspaper with some Soil.Ninja substrate ready to go. Gather a few nursery pots in a couple of sizes bigger and smaller than the one that it’s currently in. You can never really be too sure how root bound your plant is or if you need to cut it back (rot dependant). There are a lot of garden centres and people on Facebook marketplace that will give away free nursery pots, so don’t feel like you need to buy lots of different sizes, have a look around first.
Firstly give the nursery pot your plant is currently in a gentle squeeze in the middle whilst you hold the base of the plant securely. Sometimes the plant will pull out easily, but you may have to give it a wiggle, shake and a few taps. If you’re struggling to remove the plant from its pot, place the plant on its side and gently roll the pot whilst pushing the pot down in the middle (be careful with any foliage as you do this). Eventually you will be able to wiggle the base of the plant free.
Now this is the most important part of repotting! Remove all the old substrate away from the roots by gently massaging the root ball. Thoroughly check the root system to make sure it’s all in good health before setting it up in it’s new home. Keep an eye out for rot! If you see any dark/black roots, (sometimes they smell like decay) give the root a little squeeze. If it’s mushy and the root pulls away, I’m afraid you have some rot to deal with. For more information on how to treat this check out our ‘root rot’ blog post.
Leaving large clumps/pockets of old substrate on the plants roots (especially peat moss) will stop water from being distributed evenly. Be sure to remove all the previous substrate from the roots, so when the plant is repotted in the new substrate it can fully utilise the components and nutrients within the blend.
Now it’s time to work out what size pot you will be needing. So from the selection of pots you’ve picked, just place the plant’s roots in a few of them to see how it will sit. Keep in mind you need around 1/3 of the base of the pot filled with soil and some space around the sides of the root system. Make sure the root ball has some space to grow into, but not too much as this could put your plant at risk of getting rot. Potting into too large of a pot means the soil will take a lot longer to dry out and the roots will struggle to utilise all the moisture, thus drowning the roots.
Now that you’ve found the perfect pot, fill the base around 1/3 of the way up. Place the roots on top of the substrate and into position, then hold the base of the plant in the middle of the pot just below the lip. Shovel, scoop and pour the soil around the plant. Tapping the pot down on the surface a couple of times will allow the components to fall into place, fitting all snug around the roots.
Once you’ve filled the pot, gently press the substrate down and tap the pot on the surface a few more times until the plant feels sturdy. Sprinkle on any extra substrate to fill in any gaps, then TAH-DAH – You did it!
Now you may be thinking, should I water this plant? And that’s a great question! For xeric plants like Cacti and Succulents, hold back for a few good weeks before you water it – these plants will not appreciate a drink right away. Less is more with these desert boys. Then for most plants – allow them to settle for a few days or even a week. Thirstier plants like Prayer Plants, Peace Lilies and Alocasia may appreciate a drink after repotting.
Now get out there and get knee deep in dirt – if you can do this, you can do anything!