Spring has sprung. While familiar cherry blossom blooms, more and more greenery pokes out into longer, brighter days. The botanical world outside is waking up once again and so are your houseplants indoors!
The start of spring is a brilliant time to re-pot your houseplants. During late autumn and winter, plants go into a part of their yearly cycle called 'dormancy', this is when growth starts to slow down and plants don't like being watered and fed as much.
You wont necessarily need to re-pot everything right away, but there's definitely some things to look out for this time of year. Telling signs include excess roots creeping out of drainage holes underneath pots. This means the plant is looking for new soil to accommodate it's growth. Cacti and slow growing plants don't always need a strict annual re-pot regime, but keep an eye out for fast growing, vigorous plants like monsteras and philodendrons.
It's a good idea to check the condition of the soil too. Houseplants potted at nurseries are usually in nutrient rich soil that drains well, but over time, nutrients will get depleted and soil will start to disintegrate. You can usually tell if the quality of the soil isn't what it used to be if it doesn't absorb water as well as it used to. You'll often see the water pooling on top of dried up uneven soil.
What you'll need:
A new nursery pot -
To start, you'll need a new nursery pot for drainage. Nursery pots are the terracotta coloured plastic
pots with small holes underneath that most plants come in when you buy them. It's important to re- pot into one of these and not just straight into a decorative pot as the plant will need good drainage.
As a rule of thumb, a nursery pot about one third the size larger that the old pot is a good step up.
Fresh compost -
Check what sort of soil you'll need for the plant you're re-potting. Most of the time you'll either need a regular houseplant compost for leafy, luscious plants, or a free draining cactus compost for cacti and succulents. Special exceptions are orchid bark, or potting mix for carnivorous plants, who want absolutely no nutrients in their soil.
Lay down some old newspaper on a surface with your plant, compost and new pot. Give the pot a squeeze to loosen up the compost, and gently pull the plant out by the crown. Take care not to break up any roots that may have spread out from underneath the pot.
Once you've got your plant out, pull away outer chunks of old compost to expose the root ball. You don't have to be too meticulous in completely bare rooting it as this may damage the roots, but it's best to take off the outer excess bits of compost where possible.
Pour fresh compost into your new pot and fill up until it's almost full. Pat the compost down gently to compress it and dig out a hole in the centre big enough for the roots to fit into. Ideally, you want the crown of the plant to be parallel with the pot lip. Check the firmness of the soil, if you've put the
plant in but the plant keeps sinking as you pat down, take the plant out and add a little more compost until the soil is firm and the plant is at the right level in the pot.
Give the pot a pat down around the sides. This will help compost fall into any air gaps and improve the density of the soil. Give the plant a little water from the top, and your plant is all set for a new growing season!