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Repotting your garden planters

Your container garden will flourish if you repot your planters at the beginning of each season to refresh the potting soil or add new soil to larger planters to re-supply nutrients and encourage growth.

Over time, two things happen to your plants. Firstly, the soil, or potting mix, gets ‘tired’ and lacks essential nutrients required to keep your plants healthy. Secondly as a plant’s roots continue to grow, they take up more and more space in the pot. As this happens, the plant becomes ‘root-bound’—which means the root system is too big for the pot and may begin to grow out of the drainage holes or become brown, unhealthy and even die off.

how to repot garden plantersThe combination of decomposing potting mix and cramped space inevitably leads to an unhealthy environment for the plant. The cure is usually quite simple—repot the plant.

Repotting should be done once a year, preferably in the late fall or early spring, and it’s best to repot plants only when they are between flowering cycles.

How to repot a plant:

  1. Select a new container or garden planter with drainage holes which is one or two sizes larger than the original one. A pot too large can lead to overwatering which will drown the plant roots.
  2. If the pot has been used previously, be sure to use an antibacterial soap to kill any residual harmful organisms. Clay pots should be soaked overnight and then washed to remove the white fertilizer salts around the insides.
  3. Fill one-third of the planter with premium container potting soil, such as Organic Energized Potting Mix or Self-Watering Container Mix from Gardener’s Supply.
  4. Remove the plant from the old pot. Next, gently shake off the old potting soil or mix from the root mass. If the roots are tightly wound, gently slice the sides of the root ball in two or three places.
  5. Insert the plant into its new pot. Make sure the crown of the plant is about an inch below the pot rim—this allows space for adding sufficient water and it eliminates spills. To finish, fill in around the sides of the root ball with your potting soil and gently compress the mix as you fill in.
  6. Finally, water the plant thoroughly to ensure that all areas in the root zone have been moistened. Allow the planter to drain.

If you are repotting into a larger planter, be sure not to increase the pot size too much. Generally increasing the size by approximately one third is appropriate. Follow the procedure listed above and be sure to add a slow-release fertilizer to help the plant re-establish in the new pot.
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