Whether you're starting an indoor plant collection from scratch, or wanting to move a beloved plant into a new pot, knowing how to correctly pot and repot is a must for all plant parents!
This guide will teach you all you need to know, helping you reduce transplant shock and keeping your plants happy and healthy.
Follow it for pots and planters of all shapes and sizes, including hanging baskets, large planters and boxes, and those on vertical gardens.
When to Repot
Depending on how actively your plants are growing, most need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months to prevent them from being root-bound. The best time to repot your plants is in Spring when the roots are actively growing, allowing them enough time to settle and grow in the new potting mix and helping reduce transplant shock.
Keep in mind that repotting doesn’t always mean changing from one pot to another as your plant may not have outgrown its pot yet. It’s just as important (if not more) to change the potting mix, so that your potted plant receive new essential nutrients.
Slow-growing plants in particular, can happily live in the same pot for years without fear of outgrowing it, instead you will need to refresh their potting mix once the fertiliser in the original potting mix expires or if it has slumped.
Key signs to look out for:
- Your plant has stopped growing, or is growing at a slower pace than usual
- Plant roots are showing on the surface of the potting mix, growing thick and crowded and/or are growing out of the pot's drainage holes
- The potting mix has dried out significantly and slumped in the pot
- Water is pooling on top of the potting mix and is no longer being absorbed
- The fertiliser in the potting mix has expired (see potting mix packaging to know how long it lasts)
- You remember it's been a few years since you've last repotted (if ever!)
How to Repot
1. Gather your Supplies
Before you repot, get your plant ready being watering a few days before to ensure that they are hydrated. Also, avoid repotting in extreme weather to reduce transplant shock and allow them to settle in better.
What you'll need:
- Clean pot of suitable size with good drainage
- Scotts Osmocote Premium Potting Mix - explore our range of premium potting mixes to see which one is specially formulated for your plant type
- Hand trowel
- Scissors, secateurs or a sharp knife to trim roots if necessart
- Protective gloves & dust mask
- Scotts Osmocote Pour+Feed Liquid Fertiliser
2. Choose your Pot
Be sure to pick a new pot that has good drainage and is around 25mm larger than the previous pot. If it’s any bigger then you run the risk of excess potting mix remaining damp, thus leading to root rot.
If you’re re-using an old pot, ensure that it is thoroughly cleaned to remove any traces of old potting mix, roots and/or fertiliser.
Ideally, your chosen pot should have drainage holes, however if not, then use a slightly smaller plastic pot with drainage holes and pop it inside the decorative pot. Alternatively, you can layer the bottom of your decorative pot with pebbles or gravel before adding the potting mix. The aim of this is to create a reservoir for any extra water to pool into and away from your plant’s roots.
3. Start with the Best
Pour 35mm or so of fresh Scotts Osmocote Premium Potting Mix into the base of the new pot (or on top of drainage pebbles) and pack it down gently to remove any air pockets.
4. Transfer Time
Carefully loosen the plant’s roots before lifting it out from the old pot. If things are a little tight, hold your hand over the top of the potting mix, tilt the pot and gently tap it on a bench to loosen it. You also may need to give it a light tug on the base of the plant stems to get it going.
Once out, loosen the plant’s root ball and brush away any old potting mix, without disturbing the roots too much. Remove any damaged, dried or twisted roots, this will help the plant settle and grow better in its new pot. If you are trimming the roots, it’s important to wipe the blade with rubbing alcohol between each cut to avoid spreading bacteria.
Next, place the plant in the centre of the new pot, check that it’s sitting at a similar level as it was in the previous pot. If it’s too low then lift it out and add more potting mix – repeat until it is at the right level.
5. Keep Filling
Fill the pot with the fresh potting mix, leaving a 20-30mm gap between the top of the pot. Gently tap the pot to settle the new potting mix in and around the plant’s roots and to remove any air pockets. Don’t pack it down too firmly and you still want the roots to breathe.
6. Pour the Love
After repotting, it is especially important to give your plant a good drink and feed in order to help revive the roots and encourage new growth. Monitor your plant closely to see how it is responding to your water schedule and its new environment.
When feeding, apply a premium fertiliser, like Scotts Osmocote Pour+Feed, fortnightly to boost your plant with a carefully balanced blend of essential nutrients, including Nitrogen, Phosphorous and Potassium.