Potting on plants

Rosie Yeoman shows you how easy it is to pot on plants, here a scented leaf pelargonium, to encourage the growth of new roots and shoots.

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Potting on plants in containers is a key part of growing them, whether they’re to be planted in the ground at a later time, or if they’re staying in the pot indefinitely. Rosie Yeomans guides you through this easy process, which will prevent your plants from being pot-bound, and ensure they have plenty of room to grow.

Potting on plants: transcript

This lemon-scented pelargonium is perfect for repotting now. It’s a really lovely, bushy plant. If I look into the middle of it, it’s got about five shoots coming right from the base. It’s going to make a fantastic display. But let me show you how to pot it on.

I’m going to use a terracotta pot and the compost I’m going to use is also going to be mixed. And so here I’ve got three buckets with different kinds of compost bulk ingredients in it. So, peat-free multi-purpose compost, a bucket of John Innes and a scoop of grit is a perfect mix by volume for this plant. I’m going to put some compost into the bottom. Actually, I’ve always got in mind what this plant is going to need in terms of depth and where I want the base of the plant to end up is just under the rim of the pot here. So, now I’m going to judge whether I’ve got that right, whether the level’s right for this plant. But before I start pushing that into that lovely sterilised compost, I’m just going to clean up the base of this plant a little bit. Just with your fingers, pull off anything – can you see, you get these dead stalks, just pull those off. So there we have a nice, clean plant and I’m just going to put it into the bottom.

Just gently tease the roots. With these kinds of soft plants, you mustn’t be too aggressive with pulling out the roots. So leave it, you know, just pull it up slightly so that they’re just not going to go round in a circle and then just hold the plant in the centre of the pot with your hand like this. You must make sure that a plant that’s
repotted goes right in the middle, because the root grows evenly round the outside and the shoot will grow evenly as a result. If you get it on one side, it’s bound to get more shoot on the side where the roots have got more extension room and then you get a lopsided plant.

So just hold it gently at the level that you wanted. And then you can see that I’m just picking up small amounts in my hand and pouring it into the rim. And once you’ve gone round once, then just use your fingers and push the compost down around the outside. Don’t push the plant in the middle, there’s no need.

So that’s potted, it’s nice and firm. I’m going to water it just once. Give it a good soak. And I use tepid water. If you use water that’s already acclimatised to the same temperature that your pelargonium was sitting at, it’s much less likely to get shocked and it’ll grow away much faster. So when I said I was going to water it once, what I mean is, I’m going to water it and then it doesn’t get watered again until it’s dried out. So you don’t water once a week or once a fortnight or on a regular basis. You feel the pot, the compost, to see whether it’s moist or not. And if it’s dried out, it gets some more water. Even lift the pot up and feel the weight of it to see whether it needs water or not, because sometimes the top of the compost dries out and the bottom is still wet.

So here we’ve got it. We’ve got a pelargonium that’s been repotted or potted on into a new pot. It’s bigger than it was so that the roots can grow out and the shoots will get much bigger. It’s in a well drained compost that’s been mixed so that it’s got a nutrient base, good mineral stability and some grit to give it some weight. And it’s going to take about a month or six weeks before it’s grown in size and covered in flowers – the most beautiful lemon-scented pelargonium.