Container plants can get a much-needed boost if they are repotted. Most healthy container plants outgrow their pots. They can show many signs that they need rejuvenation, so pay attention to your plants and take action when you see them. Learn how to repot your plants step by step.
When to Repot Your Plants?
Notice if your plants look like they’ve outgrown their container, their roots are growing out of the drainage holes or roots are pushing the plant up and out of the planter. Plant growth may also be slower than usual or the plant may become top heavy.
Check the soil, as well. If water is sitting on top of the soil and not being absorbed, if the plant dries out quickly or if the soil looks dry or is falling apart, these are signs that your container plant needs to be moved to a new home.
There is no exact timetable to follow on when to repot your plants. Typically, every 12 to 18 months is a good rule of thumb, though some plants are happy to be in the same container for years. The best time to repot plants is in the early spring, right before the growth season begins, but it can be done whenever you notice that it needs to be done.
When the time comes to repot your plants, follow these steps.
Select a Container
When moving a plant from a smaller to larger pot, choose a container that is only a couple of inches larger in diameter than the original. A small plant placed in a container that is too large could suffer in excess wet soil. Containers should have sufficient drainage and a tray underneath to catch excess runoff. Keep in mind that repotting doesn’t always mean moving a plant to a new container. A previously used pot should be thoroughly cleaned and rinsed so no lingering disease is transferred. Most importantly, repotting means fresh nutrients to give your plant a new start.
Before you go through the repotting process, water your plant in the old container thoroughly. Plan to do this a day or two before you move the plant. If the soil is damp, it will hold together better and allow you to remove the plant with ease. Check the new potting soil, and if it feels dry, add some water to it too.
Remove the Plant
Turn the container sideways, hold the plant gently by the stems and pull it out. You may have to tap on the sides or the bottom of the pot or give the stems a gentle tug. A root-bound plant usually slides out in one piece. But if a lot of loose soil comes out with, that may be a sign it doesn’t need to be repotted. Take a look at the roots to be sure. They should be white or light in color. If they are dark in color or smell, that may indicate disease. To remove a stuck plant, run a knife around the edge or gently press the sides of the pot if it is a flexible plastic to encourage it to come out.
Loosen or Cut Roots
Once the plant is removed from the container, loosen the roots and unbind or cut through tangled ones. This helps promote better nutrient absorption. Trim extra long roots, even removing part of the root ball if necessary. You may even make some vertical cuts in the root ball and cut through roots growing in a circular pattern to revive the plant when repotted.
Prepare the New Container
Remove about a third of the old potting mix, then pour a layer of fresh, pre-moistened potting soil into the container. Place the plant on top, then fill in with potting mix until the plant can stand on its own. Don’t overdo the amount of soil or pack it in tightly. Allow the roots some space to breathe, and leave about an inch from the top of the planter unfilled. This will allow water to be absorbed, rather than running over the edge of the container.
Water Your Repotted Plant
To complete the process, water your plant in its new container thoroughly and add plant food. It’s best not to stress the plant after moving it, so maintain the temperature, light and watering it gets.
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