Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine
When prized plants can’t be prised out
The world may seem as though it’s going to pot, but there are times when that’s not a bad thing – autumn, for example,
While covid still scours the world, many gardeners, particularly, the indoor variety, are quietly going about their business and preparing to repot all those houseplants that have worked tirelessly throughout the year to make their world a nicer, brighter place.
Not all indoor-grown plants require potting annually; some are best left in their containers for a year or two, or even three before the job needs to be done, but many are more than happy to be move into a larger pot, their roots surrounded by fresh compost and some even introduced to a pair of secateurs.
I would always recommend repotting plants when they have outgrown their containers, but it can become a bit of a chore and often a battle to prise them free. Sometimes, getting them out means smashing the pot, and if it’s a family heirloom, it’s probably not worth the sacrifice.
So, try top-dressing instead – and make it an annual event. It’s a chance to get your fingers dirty, but in the nicest possible way.
Scrape away as much of the top layer of compost in the pot as you can – preferably without damaging the roots – and add fresh compost bulked up with a slowrelease fertiliser, which will help provide nutrients for several months.
You will still have to water regularly, of course, and if a particular plant does look as though it needs a boost, there’s nothing to stop you giving it a dose of generalpurpose fertiliser to keep it in fine fettle.
Top-dressing is particularly useful – both indoors and outdoors – for bigger plants where, unless you have a crane or the muscles of Superman, it’s almost impossible to get them out of their containers without damaging them, the container and you.
Eventually, after several years of this treatment, you may have no option other than to repot – if a plant is completely potbound, prise apart the roots and trim them to encourage new growth.
Clean off as much of the old compost as possible before repotting, ensuring there are no air pockets left among the plant’s roots.
Doing it this way may mean you can also re-use the old container.