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There are special composts available for houseplants and they are specially formulated for their needs. Choose a well known brand and you won't go far wrong.

The main occasion when you need compost like this is when the houseplant need re-potting in a larger pot. It's important to get re-potting correct because it's the environment the roots will be in for the next few years.

This article guides you through the re-potting process in plain language.


When To Re-pot Your Houseplant
Most houseplants benefit from being re-potted every couple of years but different types and different growing conditions can affect this greatly. Another consideration is available space! If you re-pot a houseplant it will grow bigger so if you have no spare space don't re-pot it.

A houseplant will benefit from re-potting if the roots are forcing their way through the bottom of their pot. Another way to check is to take them out of their pot (tricky if the plant is big) and examine the root ball. If almost none of the soil is visible and you are looking at a mass of roots then it's probably time to re-pot.

One word of advice, if a houseplant is unhealthy don't re-pot it in the hope it will recover. Re-potting an unhealthy plant may shock it and end any hopes of recovery

How to Re-pot Your Houseplant
The best time to re-pot a houseplant is in early to mid Spring, March or April are normally the best months.

1. Prepare the new pot. Select a clean pot one or two sizes bigger than the existing one. Put  2cm (¾ inch) layer of coarse gravel or broken crocks in the base of the new pot and cover with a piece of paper or moss. The gravel will help water to drain away and the paper will stop soil from coming out of the pot when you water.


2. Remove the plant from it's existing pot. A tricky and potentially damaging operation so be careful. The way to do it is to turn the plant upside down with your hands holding in the soil and surrounding them stem. Tap the pot with your other hand until the the pot comes away from the roots. You may need a friend's help to support the plant and prevent damage if the plant is particularly big.


3. Have a good look at the roots and cut away any that are damaged or diseased. Use a sharp knife for this.


4. Remove the top 1cm (½ inch) of compost. Carefully separate the roots at the bottom of the rootball trying to damage as few roots as possible. remove any grits or stones and tease away any of the old compost.


5. Place the plant into the new pot (with the grit at the bottom as in step 1 above). If it goes too far into the pot, remove the plant, sprinkle 1cm (½ inch) of compost into the base and place the plant on top.


6. Start to fill round the sides of the root ball with fresh compost. Gently firm the compost down the dies with your finger or a round stick. Continue doing this until the sides are filled. It often helps to tap the pot on the floor to ensure the compost goes as far down as possible. Sprinkle compost over the top to the level of the old compost.


7. Firm down the top and water well. Don't feed for another couple of weeks because the new compost will contain nutrients.