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How to refresh compost in pots

How to refresh compost in pots

Container-grown trees and shrubs benefit from a fresh supply of compost every year or so – we show you how to do it.

A table displaying which months are best to sow, plant and harvest.
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
To do
To do

Do not To do in January

Do To do in February

Do To do in March

Do To do in April

Do To do in May

Do not To do in June

Do not To do in July

Do not To do in August

Do not To do in September

Do not To do in October

Do not To do in November

Do not To do in December

If you’re growing a tree or shrub in a large container, you should replenish the compost every year or two. The ideal time to do this is between February and May.

Doing so will improve the compost structure and provide a fresh supply of nutrients, which can be lost quickly in pots and containers.

If you want to grow more plants in pots and containers, but aren’t sure what to grow, have a look at our top 10 plants for containers. For our pick of the best composts, take a look at 10 of the best peat free composts.

If you’d like to help with making your own compost, check out our tests of the best compost bins, or watch Monty’s video guide.

Discover how to refresh compost in pots, below.


You Will Need

  • Hand fork
  • Multi-purpose, peat-free compost
  • Gravel or pebbles

Total time:

Step 1

Gently loosen the compost from among the surface roots with a hand fork, working right out to the edge of the pot. Then remove as much old compost as possible.

Loosen the compost
Loosen the compost

Step 2

Top it back up with a 50:50 mix of loam-based potting compost and organic-based multi-purpose compost. Firm down as you go and avoid air pockets among the roots.

Adding compost to the pot
Adding compost to the pot

Step 3

Water in thoroughly, then add a thick layer of gravel or pebbles on top. This weighs down the fresh compost, deters weeds, and holds moisture around the roots.

Adding pebbles to the container
Adding pebbles to the container

Trees and shrubs to grow in containers