How to repot a large plant

Repotting a large outdoor plant or indoor plant can be daunting, but it is necessary. The best time to do this is the spring, though it’s possible at any time of year. You should avoid replanting large plants that are actively budding or blooming, however.

Now that you know when to repot large plants, you need to know how.

Keep reading for more information on how to repot a large plant

What do you need to repot a plant?

The essentials needed to repot a plant are the following:

  • A larger pot
  • A plant removal tool
  • Potting mix

A knife can also be used in the place of a plant removal tool.

A couple of optional items to have to facilitate this job are gloves to protect your hands and pruning shears to remove any dead or overgrown sprouts.

6 Steps to Repot a Large Plant

Steps 1: Run a long, sharp knife, like a bread knife, around the sides of the pot. When it seems loosened, lay the pot on its side and carefully pull the plant out. This is easiest if the container has straight sides, but will take much more effort if the sides are curved inwards (a good thing to remember if you are buying new pots).

You don’t have to be too gentle at this stage, especially if the plant is dormant. Plants are tougher than you think If your plant is truly stuck, you may have to destroy the pot, cutting it with shears if it’s plastic or smashing it with a hammer if it’s clay.

How to repot a large plant

How to repot a large plant

Steps 2: Tease the soil away from the roots with a small hand fork and trim long circling roots. If the root mass is solid, use an old knife, pruning saw or even a Saws All, to cut away a couple of inches from the sides and bottom.

Steps 3: Clean out the container and check that the drainage holes aren’t plugged. Cover them with some screening to keep them open. Mesh dry wall tape or old window screen work well.

Steps 4: Add fresh soil mix to the pot and reposition the plant so that the top of the root ball is at the same level it was before you started- not too deep or too high.

Steps 5: Fill in with the soil mix, to about two inches from the top. Tamp the soil down gently around the roots so there are no air pockets.

Steps 6: Return the pot to its permanent position. Top dress with a slow release fertilizer and water well. Lastly, prune for shape and to remove any damaged or inward growing branches.

If your containers are too big to move, scrape away what you can of the old soil and top up with some fresh soil mix instead.

Tip: how to repot a plant with root rot

Repotting is always stressful to plants

It’s just not something they’re designed to experience. So if your plant is looking a little sad after repotting don’t panic.

That being said, there are easy ways to minimise the risk of shock that you should consider:

Don’t move the plant to another room AND repot it in the same day. Either move your plant a couple of weeks before repotting, or wait until a couple of weeks after repotting to move it

Don’t fertilise your plant until it’s shown some signs of growth. There should be enough nutrition in the new soil. If you don’t think the new soil has enough nutrition, add in some worm castings.

Cutting back doesn’t actually harm the plant – it can actually concentrate its energy better since there are fewer leaves to maintain, but make sure you leave it enough leaves to maintain its roots. Clearly not an issue for my plant.

How to repot a large plant

How to repot a large plant

Watering Plants after Repotting

Contrary to popular belief it is a good practice to thoroughly water plants after repotting them. Just make sure the water is draining properly by checking the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. The only time it is recommended to refrain from watering newly repotted plants is when the plant was previously suffering from over watering and needs a breather.

Using the simple steps mentioned above you should be able to successfully repot your plant no matter the size. Larger plants may require extra helping hands but other than a bit of special handling the general procedure remains the same.

A tip to save having to completely repot Large plants

Large plants every year is to loosen the top third of the potting mix, simply scrape out the tired old mix and replace it with some fresh potting mix. That will probably mean the plant won’t need to be repotted completely for another year. The fresh mix contains wetting agents, so it won’t be hydrophobic, and then it’s important to add some fertiliser.

Some potted plants you don’t want to grow any bigger. So just cut the roots back, to suit the size of the pot. Some people think it’s important to have a wet root ball when the plant is removed from the pot, but if it’s moist that will be perfect.

A little root-pruning usually does the plant no harm at all. If it’s tough you might even need to take a saw to it. Doing this means you don’t have to put the plant into a larger pot – you can keep it to the size that suits your garden. If you reduce the size of the root ball, then remember to cut back the foliage too. Just prune it, thinking about its ultimate shape. Then give the plant a really good dunk, to wet the root ball – that’s important because the plant has gone through a bit of a shock at having some of its roots removed. Then put it straight back into the same pot.

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