With fall just around the corner, many gardeners are concerned about what’s going on outside. This means many houseplants are left to fend for themselves. However, now is a great time to think about repotting your houseplants.
There are a few ways to tell if your houseplants need some attention. Many houseplants become root bound before you realize. This happens when the plant grows too big for its container and the roots get all matted and tangled. Some plants like being slightly root bound though, like a Peace Lily, so check before you replant. If your plant is looking particularly droopy or stops growing all together, it’s time to repot. If you’ve had a plant in the same container for a long time, chances are the soil needs changing. Old potting soil literally does nothing for plants because the nutrients are all tapped out. Remember, if you move a houseplant into a larger pot than it was in before, it will concentrate on root growth rather than growing big full leaves and stems. Just because the plant doesn’t immediately grow big and full to fill the pot, doesn’t mean it’s not growing somewhere.
So what is the best way to go about repotting your plant? Well, first you should water your plant a couple hours in advance. This will keep the plant happy during the big move. Plus its a lot easier to replant a lively plant than one that’s all droopy from lack of water. Once your soil is dryer, gently turn the pot upside-down or sideways and pull the pot from the rootball. Don’t try and yank the plant out by the stem.
Now you should prepare the root ball for the new pot. Without causing massive root damage, loosen the roots from one another. You can use your fingers or a stick to separate tangled chucks of roots. This will ensure that the new potting soil will incorporate itself in between roots and encourage the roots to spread out.
Next, you should concentrate on prepping your new pot or container. It’s said that you should only move up one pot size when repotting. So if you have a 12” pot your new pot should only be 14”. If you over pot it can slow growth, but eventually your plant will catch up. Many people choose to throw some gravel or pebbles into the bottom of their pots. This can help and hurt the plant. If your pot doesn’t have good drainage holes this can be a good practice. However, most of the time the gravel just takes up more room, reducing the amount the plant can grow. If your pot has good drainage, there shouldn’t be any need for gravel. Throw a little bit of soil in the bottom few inches of your new pot before planting.
One of the main problems folks run into when replanting, is planting too deep. The plant shouldn’t be covered any more than it was in the first pot. Planting too deep can cause your plant to collapse, which is heartbreaking to say the least. After you get your plant situated, give it a good drink, watering until you seem it leak from the bottom drainage holes. Don’t fertilized for a month or two because most potting mixes have some fertilizer incorporated in them already. If you fertilized too soon, you run the risk of burning the new root growth.
– Happy Planting!