The subject of this chapter is simple but at the same time extremely important. Anyone who gardens at all should know how to use pots and how to take care of them. Since house plants so frequently suffer from under or over potting, you should also know when and how to move your plants from one pot to another when it will benefit the plant, and in such a way that the plant is not damaged in the transfer. These are basically simple things to do, but you must do them correctly if you are to have a healthy home garden.
As a plant grows and matures the roots through which it gets its nutriment grow too, and whereas you can cut back the foliage of a plant when it gets too big and cumbersome and propagate it to increase your stock (see Chapter 7), you can’t cut back its roots without killing it. As a general rule then, house plants must be shifted to larger pots when they outgrow their old ones. Rates of growth vary from plant to plant, depending on health, environment, care, etc., but most plants require repotting roughly once a year. The symptoms that appear when a plant needs repotting are yellowing leaves and general droopiness of appearance. The condition can be checked easily. To determine whether an ailing plant is in need of repotting, turn it out of the pot in the manner described in the last chapter. If the ball of earth is completely covered with a fine network of roots, it is time to repot into a larger container, since the roots have become crowded and therefore are not getting the food they need to make the plant prosper.