Forum home Plants

Soil level sinking in large plant pot.

I am looking for opinions and advice.  We planted this Acer in a huge pot around 5 years ago.  During that time the soil has settled, the level of the soil and plant has dropped by around 4 - 6 inches and I would like to know if I can safely top up the level of the soil by a few inches or would this cause the plant to rot? What would you do - ignore it, or try to raise the level of the soil up.
Showing the Acer plant with the gap from plant to top of the pot being around 5 inches. The pot is around 36 inches tall x 21 inches across. I know the ultimate answer is to lift the plant out of the pot and replant at a higher level, but doing that would be a major job and either the plant or we might snap in the process.


  • LynLyn Posts: 21,383
    Is the plant happy where it is?  Maybe it needs repotting anyway, I would tip it out and see just how rootbound it is and then start again with fresh soil. ,
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • LoxleyLoxley Posts: 5,061
    Yep ease it out of the pot and replant. Another pair of hands might be handy to support the plant while you slide it out, with the pot on it's side. Do it while it's dormant, you can knock and tease out old compost from the outside of the root ball, then ease it into the pot at the correct level with fresh John Innes no. 3 below and around the roots. 
  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,841
    Another one for tipping out and re-potting with more soil underneath and at the sides.

    Water liberally to loosen it and I also use an old bread knife which I slide up and down all round the inside of the pot to help separate the rootball from the pot wall.  They can be really clingy and resist when potbound.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,383
    We are unanimous on this😀😀
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • Oh dear, I was hoping someone would come up with an easy answer, but I must admit I couldn't think of one myself.  You are all right of course, and I will either have to ignore the situation or get a couple of strong men in for this job for me.  The pot is really, really heavy - far too heavy for one person to manage (not me I must hasten to add), so it looks like we will have to call the troops in when the plant is dormant.  The annoying thing is that I have two pots with the exact same problem.
  • LynLyn Posts: 21,383
    At least  the pot is wider at the top so will come out easier, it took me all day to get agapanthus out of a straight sided pot that had a rim inside. 
    Ended up sawing it out in bits from the middle.  All transplanted and flowered this year, it was just too congested, had to be done. 
    Gardening on the wild, windy west side of Dartmoor. 

  • ObelixxObelixx Posts: 28,841
    If you water well and loosen the sides as suggested above you can lift the plant and not the pot.
    Vendée - 20kms from Atlantic coast.
    "We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." - George Bernard Shaw
  • Sounds good @Obelixx, but the bread knife would be far too flimsy for this size of plant and pot, and even two strong men wouldn't be able to lift the plant - let alone the pot.  It took 3 - 4 huge bags of peat/compost mix to fill the pot with added stones in the bottom  too, this pot is massive and very heavy being terracotta.  Thanks for all the ideas and helpful suggestions. 
    Incidentally what would happen if I topped it up with more compost - would the plant die/rot off?
  • JennyJJennyJ Posts: 8,184
    Does the plant need repotting/fresh compost, or is it just that you don't like how it looks with a big gap at the top of the pot?  If the plant is happy I think I would leave it alone.
    Doncaster, South Yorkshire. Soil type: sandy, well-drained
  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 50,313
    I also find that doing the opposite can work - ie when it's on the dry side.  
    Tip it on it's side, and with a bit of 'gentle persuasion' [ie the knife, or similar,  round the edge ] and a poke from the other end, you can get plants out. I've done it several times, although it's mostly when something's turned it's toes up.
    I usually use a spade to dig round the edge  ;)

    I wouldn't take the risk of topping it up. You can get away with that if it's only a little shallow, but not that depth. 
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
Sign In or Register to comment.