The delicate art of repotting your plants

Via Getty Images/Aleksandar Nakic

Watching your plant thrive and grow out of its first pot is a proud plant parent moment. It also signals that the plant needs to be moved to another pot to continue growing.

Repotting involves giving your plant new soil — and usually a slightly larger pot — so that its roots and shoots can get the right amount of water, air, and nutrients. We spoke with Russell Stafford, owner of Homegrown Nursery in Pawtucket, about how and when to properly repot a plant.

Plants need room for their roots to grow so that their foliage can grow to their swaggering size, but they can’t get the nutrients they need if the contents of the pot are overcrowded. “What happens underground is key to what happens above ground. Repotting provides a more root-friendly environment so the rest of the plant can grow and be healthy,” says Stafford.

If your plant has been in its container for a year or more and is starting to lose its vigour, it may need to be repotted. A good way to check is to take it out of its current pot to see that it has grown into a large mass of roots around the soil. Before putting it back in its new pot, “it is useful to rake the roots with your fingers so that they do not remain in this mass, or to take lukewarm water and try to rinse some of the soil” , explains Stafford. It’s always a good idea to check the repotting situation each spring.

“You don’t want to put a plant in a container much bigger than the one it’s in. If you put your plant in a pot with too much space, then you have a lot of soil inside and it will stay too. . soggy,” says Stafford. For example, if you have a three-inch-wide pot, go up to a slightly deeper four-inch pot and plant at the same depth; Stafford recommends terracotta pots – which breathe better in due to their porous material.Whatever pot you choose, it should have a drainage hole in the bottom to prevent the soil from getting too wet and lacking in oxygen.

Using the right soil is also essential. “Often with cheap flooring you get what you pay for. You want soil that has the right amount of moisture, aeration, and fertility to support whatever plant you’re growing,” says Stafford, who recommends organic fertilizer for its slow release rate.

Remember to keep your newly repotted plant out of the sun for a few days and then put it back in the sun once it has settled into its new home.

With us, 1 Alfred Stone Road, Pawtucket, 401-400-3706,

Dora W. Clawson