Title image above is copyright © Optimate Group Pty Ltd

First published 17th July 2021

Many plants respond very well to an Air-Pot container, but sometimes a little too well to the point they outgrow it quite quickly — their root balls become so dense that they uptake water faster than can be held by the potting medium.

If your plant suddenly droops almost overnight, and despite regular watering stays this way through the heat of the day, it may well not be sick, but simply be in need of a larger Air-Pot®.

There are two very simple tests you can do that will tell you it is time to re-pot, assuming the plant has been watered regularly and is otherwise not neglected.

One test is to simply pick the container up! Does it feel surprisingly light, especially when compared with other plants in the same container size? Is it noticeably lighter than when you picked it up last? That lightness is most likely from potting mix devoid of water.

The other test is to remove the plug(s) and peel away the Air-Pot® wall.

If you see dry-looking medium and a mass of roots, as with this wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) below, yep, it is time!

This is a wormwood root ball just removed from a 3 L Air-Pot®. Please note you do not have to remove the entire container as here. You only need to remove the plugs and peel a small section of wall away to reveal the roots and potting mixture. This makes it much easier to replace the wall if you’re not able to attend to the plant right then and there. (I was always going to repot this plant, and forgot to photograph that ‘peel away’ step first!)

In this and the next two photos you can see how much drier the medium looks compared to the fresh, moist mix underneath for potting this and several other plants on with.

copyright © Optimate Group Pty Ltd

A close-up of that same root ball:

copyright © Optimate Group Pty Ltd

A close-up of the bottom of the root ball:

copyright © Optimate Group Pty Ltd

This wormwood wasn’t drooping or otherwise showing signs of stress at the time of potting-up (16th July 2021). We are in the middle of winter here, and these much cooler temperatures plus enough rain to not need to be watering seem enough to keep it happy for now. However, it was just starting to show signs of outgrowing the 3 L container through autumn — and we were out of stock of the 9 L containers it needed! (The stuck ship in the Suez Canal held up arrival of new stock for over six weeks.)

It is now in a brand new 9 L Air-Pot® and I expect this, with regular fertilising, to be all it needs from now on, ever.

In fact, the 9 L container is proving itself to be the perfect final size for every single herb I’ve thrown at it so far. (If/when I discover any that fail to thrive in this size I will definitely write about it.)

While they all do incredibly well when starting out in the 3 L containers, they seem to hit a wall in that size come the hotter summer weather. Potting up to the 9 L Air-Pot® has overcome that stress each and every time, overnight.

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