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Why pot size really does matter

Common sense dictates that a plant will grow bigger if given more space for its roots to grow, right? Well, yes and no - the answer is not quite so clear cut.

It’s important, when bringing plants into your home, to find ways to replicate the outside environment they’re used to. Plants growing outside in the wild have access to loads of light giving sun, and live in soil that freely drains when it rains. However the conditions we give house plants are quite different - inside, we pack a vessel full of soil, and nestle the plant inside. The pot usually has a few drainage points at the base at best. Combine that with the lower light of an indoor setting, and the result is soil that stays moist for longer after being watered than it would outside.

Whilst plants need water to live, most of them don’t need constant access to water. Consistent moisture invites fungus growth near the roots, which can lead to root rot, and eventual plant death.

When reading about house plants, you’ll read a lot about how drainage is essential, and it all starts with the pot you choose. When you pot up an indoor plant, you should choose a pot that is about the same size as the roots. This will ensure your soil to root ratio is in balance to allow adequate drainage. You can also use soil additives such as perlite or pumice to increase drainage. You may choose to use terracotta pots for dry soil loving plants, which sucks water out of the soil.

You’ll know it’s time to repot a plant when its roots are escaping out the top or bottom of the pot. Don’t be concerned if this is happening either - many indoor plants don’t mind being pot bound for a while. When repotting, repot one or two sizes up.

So, with a combination of enough room for the roots plus an environment that encourages drainage, you’ll provide the perfect habitat for those roots to flourish within.

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