Notes from the Garden: Repotting & top dressing pots and planters May 05, 2017 02:30

Repotting and top dressing plants - tips and tricksIn and around the house, I've got a number of plants that have been experiencing the horticultural equivalent of tight trousers. Deeply unpleasant. So, over the bank holiday weekend, I snatched a couple of hours to remedy the situation. 

Two of my outdoor pots are home to beautiful hydrangeas. Because they demand ericaceous soil to keep their blooms blue, I home them in pots instead of the open ground. With their growth now in full swing, they need all the goodness and nourishment they can get. In the largest pot, much of the existing soil had compacted down and reduced over the last 12 months. It is extremely heavy and difficult to move,  so I just gently scrapped off the top inch or two of soil and then added a really generous layer of new ericaceous soil. For the smaller hydrangea, a similar thing had occurred, with the soil level dropping considerably, but because she was lighter, I simply eased the whole plant and root system out, removed a lot of the old soil at the root base and in the bottom of the pot, and then added new compost - bringing the level up from the bottom. Removing old and dead leaves and dressing the top soil was the last thing to do before giving both a really good water. At some point, these plants will need repotting, but by top dressing the largest, and doing a hybrid 'top dress and repot' of the smaller, I think I've bought myself another year or two. 

Looking after your house plantsIt is a different story for my house plants. A few of the succulents are romping away and this has meant repotting them into larger pots. The result is pretty much overnight growth - the plants receive a new source of nutrients and space, which in turn leads to a  new lease of life. Finding beautiful, large planters for indoors is a challenge so I've been collecting ideas on a special, planter board on Pinterest. Many of these are pure black and white, which off set the bright vibrant tones of our scatter cushions, plants and foliage that are dotted around our home. 

While many guides will advise you to repot and top dress plants in mid spring, I'm never sure whether that means earlier on (you know, in that 20 degree heat we had) or now (when it is absolutely blinking baltic!) Instead, I tend to take my lead from the plants - if they are pot bound with roots showing at the bottom, definitely, absolutely move on ASAP. With perennials or shrubs in outdoor planters, I tend to wait until new leaves are established, but before the flowers or buds emerge. For me, it is a pattern and a ritual that works and luckily, I've never lost one yet.

***What are your tips and tricks? Please add your knowledge and experience in the comments below!*** 

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