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I've just received a small plant in a tiny pot. I read somewhere that you should not repot in an enormous pot but in one that's a bit bigger. This makes no sense to me. Why wouldn't I just pick the pot that will accommodate the full size that the plant will grow to (in a few years) and immediately put the plant in this sized pot to avoid future repots?

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The reasoning behind this advice to only use the right sized pot is that if you put a very small plant into a large pot filled with potting medium, most of the medium (potting compost) will not be occupied by anything except bacteria and other life forms, some of which may not be desirable. The compost may 'sour' and become toxic to the plant, so if your plant is very small, I do recommend you pot on into a slightly larger pot, though quite what size you chance using is really down to which plant you're talking about, you haven't said. Some plants have a rapid growth rate, others don't.

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  • That makes sense - thank you! The plant is a Miracle Fruit plant. Synsepalum dulcificum. – Guy Feb 27 '14 at 23:58
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    Ooh, I know that one, well the berries anyway. The plant itself prefers acid conditions, so make sure the potting medium is acidic rather than alkaline, pot on as it grows. – Bamboo Mar 1 '14 at 11:27
  • That's fascinating Bamboo! I've been taught that with flower seeds, going from a tiny germination cell, to a very small (2" or so) pot, to a bit bigger (4" or so) pot, was correct. After that I always thought bigger was better! Thanks for this! – Sue Saddest Farewell TGO GL Oct 21 '16 at 19:36
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In addition to the reasons Bamboo offered, some plants - like Jade plants - do better a little potbound. This means they like to have their roots crowded in the soil. Also, houseplants generally need to be replanted from time to time anyway - they aren't in a natural environment where new soil is being generated and worms and other critters are aerating the soil. Repotting from time to time helps make up for that.

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  • I'll never understand the perpetuation of this "small pot" myth. The biggest, healthiest jade plants I've ever seen were planted in the ground, completely unfettered by a pot of any sort. Certainly not root bound in any way. Is there a scientific journal you can point me to that supports this notion? – Tim Nevins Jun 19 '18 at 13:53

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