A Healthy Start For House Plants!

Healthy plants will soon out grow their pots and should be potted on regularly if thy are to maintain a good shape and increase in size, but always in modest increments to the final container dimensions. Over potting will simply encourage a weak root system and the plant will look out of proportion.


This is a similar procedure to initial potting. Make sure that the plant to be potted on ( transferred ) is moist, then remove it from the pot by inverting the pot across your upturned hand with the plant hanging down between your fingers. Now hold the pot and tap the rim against a hard surface. It should then be possible to lift off the pot. If it does not come free the compost may be too dry, so water it and try again.

The size of the new pot should be related to the plant, allowing at least 2.5 cms ( 1”) of space all round. Sit the plant on a layer of compost sufficiently deep for the rootball to be covered with about 1 cm ( ½”) of new compost when the operation is completed. Then fill in, firming with your fingers until this level is reached.
There should be enough room between the top of the compost and the top of the pot to allow for watering. Be sure not to compact the compost too much as this will inhibit water movement and root growth.

Do not pull out the roots before potting on.


Although the terms re-potting and potting on are often interchanged, each has a separate meaning. Potting on as explained above, involves moving a plant into a larger pot. Re-potting is a means of giving a plant fresh soil while retaining it in the same sized container. It is used for long term pot plants after they have been in the same sized pot for several years and are not required to grow much bigger.

First remove the plant from its pot and then strip off the soil and the roots so that the actual root ball is reduced by a quarter or a little more. A small hand fork is useful for this job and where the roots are dense and tough an old bread saw is useful. Replace the plant in the same pot (cleaned first ) or in a container of identical size, using the same technique outlined under potting on. The dormant period is the best time for this.


Less drastic than the practice of re-potting is top dressing. Here the plant is left in its container, but the top layer of roots and soil is removed to a thickness of one quarter of the root ball depth. A kitchen fork with the top half of the tines bent over at right angles is an ideal tool for the job. The gap is replaced with fresh potting soil and gently firmed

Choosing a Container

There are a number of factors to be taken into consideration when choosing a container that will limit your choice.

  1. The material from which the container is made should be in keeping with the style and design of the garden and home.
  2. If the container is going to be moved seasonally weight should be a consideration.
  3. The size of the container needs to be in proportion to the rest of the garden and the eventual size of the plant or plants. One third pot to two thirds plant or one third plant(s) to two thirds pot are the recommended ratios.
  4. The durability of the container will be determined by the material that it is made from and the prevailing weather conditions.
  5. All containers need drainage holes at the base except bulb pots and bottle gardens where charcoal is added to take out the Ethanol.
Drainage in other containers is provided by:
  • Broken shards of old pots
  • Leca- fired clay balls
  • Gravel
  • Vermiculite or Perlite
  • Water
  • The moisture content of containers needs constant monitoring.

The soil reservoir in a container is limited, therefore regular feeding is required at 4-6 week intervals through the growing season.
A balanced fertilizer is recommended such as 20:20:20.

This is the best time of year to think about potting / re-potting or top dressing. Give your tropical house plants the start they deserve for 2015!

Happy Planting!

— The team at Nicholas Alexander Landscaping


Nick Moffat
Hi Tantu, Thank you very much for your message! It would be advisable to put holes in the bottom of your grow bag to allow water to drain. This will also allow the roots to not be sitting in wet conditions too long (which will rot the roots) I would recommend giving them a good water in the morning hours when its cooler and a small drink at night if your temperatures are over the mid twenties during the day. Hope that helps! Nick
Hi Nick,I lost a lot of plants last year from bighlt and read on here its due to over watering.I was too eager last year and grew around 25 money makers so this year have went with only three ( 1 alacante and 2 garders delights) for ease of controlling.These share a good quality growbag for tomatoes and are in my green house which i've cleaned completely incase of any disease.My question is do I need to put holes in the bottom of the growbag and how often should i water? is it once or twice a day or just keep the soil moist?Looking for a good crop this year with patience.




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