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Choosing The Correct Pot | Park & Plaza

Choosing The Correct Pot | Park & Plaza

When do you know your plant is ready to be repotted? If it’s been in the same container for years, it’s definitely ready for a new pot (or at least a root checkup).

Some common signs that a plant needs more room or fresh soil nutrients are:

  • A noticeable decrease in soil level or quality (soil level has dropped over time or appears dry and hardened)
  • Roots visibly grow out the bottom of the pot, the top edges of the pot, or bust through the pot.
  • The plant dries out suspiciously fast, needing more water than it used to (or water runs right through the pot, nor seems to saturate the soil)

Most plants will need to be repotted once a year, although some slow growers might just need a topdressing (a few inches of fresh soil on top of the old) to keep them going. Springtime is the best time to repot. Plants are emerging from their winter dormancy and are hungry for fresh nutrients and more room to grow. It’s also warm and bright which means that soil will dry out quickly between waterings (which is important after repotting to avoid root rot).

If you miss spring, summer is still a good time to repot your houseplants, but avoid very hot, dry days when plants may already be stressed and have a hard time adjusting. Autumn and winter are less ideal because your plants are dormant (or going dormant), which basically means that they’re hibernating and would really rather not be disturbed. In winter, even the moisture in fresh soil can overwhelm some plants and cause root rot.

A common misconception is that a stressed plant should be repotted for a pick-me-up. In some cases such as extreme overwatering of certain pests and fungal issues, or if the plant is actually potbound (in need of fresh soil and a bigger pot) this is true, but in many instances repotting a stressed plant will only stress it further. Repotting is a big change for a plant and its delicate root system and should only be done when absolutely necessary.

WON’T A LARGER POT HELP YOUR PLANT GROW BIG AND STRONG?

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When determining how to choose the right pot for your houseplant, a key consideration is the size of the new container relative to the old one.

A common myth is that plants will grow larger if potted in a larger pot, like a goldfish in a fishbowl. This seems logical but actually, most houseplants prefer a snugger fit. Roots do not quickly fill a space when given room, but rather grow when and where they want to, usually rather slowly. When you repot into a much larger container, the roots are surrounded by soil and can’t pull the water from it fast enough, leaving it wet too long and drowning the roots. A smaller amount of soil dries out more quickly and allows more oxygen to reach the roots, which they need to survive.

For these reasons, you want to size up just a few centimeters at a time. Most pots fit loosely into a system used in the horticulture industry that goes by 2s: 2 centimeters, 4 centimeters, 6 centimeters, 8 centimeters, and up. These may or may not be the exact measurements, but most pots are grouped into these categories.

This means that if you have a pot that’s approximately 6 centimeters wide, you will probably be looking to size up to an 8 centimeters pot. It can be a good idea to know the measurements of your current pots and bring a measuring tape when shopping for pottery. Many nursery and garden center workers are very knowledgeable and happy to offer repotting advice if you need help selecting some options.

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