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Houseplant Maintenance

Martha Stewart Living Television

Like all living things, houseplants need proper care to thrive. Martha shares some of her techniques for keeping your plants in peak condition.

When a plant outgrows its container, you should transplant it to a larger pot as soon as possible. Start by putting a terra-cotta shard in the bottom of a new container, and add fresh potting soil; determine the amount of soil needed based on how high the plant should sit in the pot. Most plants should sit about half an inch from the pot's rim to help prevent water from spilling. Carefully remove the plant from the original container, and place it on top of the new soil. Put more soil all the way around the plant, and use a tamper to make sure the soil is firm, especially around the roots.

Sometimes a plant doesn't need a new home; it just needs to be repositioned in its old one. Martha's myrtle (Myrtus communis) topiary was sitting a bit too low, so she eased it from the pot, put a terra-cotta shard and bit of new soil in the bottom, and watered the soil. Using a tamper to pack down the soil, she then placed the topiary back in the pot to great effect. A trailing plant, such as a creeping fig, needs room to grow downward. One trick is to put the plant, in its pot, on top of an upside-down pot. Use your fingers to separate the stems.

Even healthy-looking plants can benefit from being replanted in new soil. Martha's Begonia rex did not seem as lively as it had in the past, but when she replanted it, it began to thrive once again.