Repot your indoor plants

Winter is an excellent time to repot your favourite indoor plants that have become too small for their containers.


Primula acaulis

If winter weather is forcing you indoors and yet you are still itching to do some gardening, then why not give your indoor and patio plants some attention? A wide range of fashionable décor containers are available at garden centres, so spend a fun-filled day at the nursery choosing some new stoneware, terracotta or ceramic containers and repot those tired old plants. This will give your home’s interior or outside verandah an instant lift and provide the life of your garden with new vigour.

If you would like to add some instant colour to your home, choose from the wide range of stunning indoor plants now available in garden centres. Try African violet, begonia, cyclamen, peace lily, calceolaria, kalanchoe, cymbidium orchids, chrysanthemums, cineraria and Primula acaulis.

Individual indoor plants can be repotted into a larger container, or also consider taking several plants in small plastic containers and repotting them into one very large, more glamorous, patio container. Landscapers have always said one really good container is worth 20 untidy plastic ones.



How do you know that it’s time to repot up your plants? Here are a few good reasons for repotting and step-by-step instructions on how to do it:

What are the symptoms?

Recognising the symptoms of overcrowding, and knowing how to repot a plant are vitally important if you want to maintain healthy plants. A plant that needs to be repotted will emit certain signals:

  • Roots will appear on the soil surface or emerge from the drainage holes in a twisted mass.
  • The plant will begin to produce new leaves that are smaller than average.
  • Leaves will wilt between normal watering days.
  • Lower leaves will turn yellow.

Prepare to repot

If you spot the above signs, you need to repot your plant. What should you consider?

  • Choose a container that is slightly larger, but not overwhelmingly larger than the plant’s original container. Or choose a very large container and arrange a group of two or three plants in the container.
  • Avoid planting directly into a container that has no drainage holes. A waterlogged pot encourages root rot.
  • Commercial potting soil is by far the best medium for indoor plants. It is light, drains well, and has been sterilised to eradicate disease and weeds. Never use ordinary garden soil. The average garden soil has a very low percentage of organic matter and will compact easily, thereby suffocating roots.

How to repot

  • Wet the soil of your plant before trying to prize it out of its pot. Moist soil will help the plant to slip out easily.
  • Set the plant on its side. Hold the main stem with your left hand and use your right hand to gently tap the rim of the pot with a hammer. Give the pot a turn and repeat. The aim is to separate the pot from the plant.
  • Once the plant is free, untwist matted roots by combing them with a fork. Cut away gnarled roots and tease out the ball of roots.
  • Place a layer of pebbles, broken pieces of crockery or a geotextile drainage mat over the drainage holes of the pot.
  • Secure the plant in the new pot, ensuring that the soil surface is a centimetre or two below the rim. Add potting soil mixture to the sides and bottom of the container. Press the soil down the sides to eliminate air pockets.
  • Smooth a thin layer of potting soil over the top surface to cover exposed roots, and water thoroughly.
  • Place a layer of mulch across the top of the soil. To conserve water in your indoor plant, spread bark chips or attractive pebbles across the top of the pot.

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