When and How to Best Repot Your Plants

The back-story

We went through a repotting frenzy yesterday and it all started when we brought home a little $2 plant. I decided that I wanted to repot it into a container that already had a plant in it. That created a chain reaction that led to the repotting of 16 plants. Some had outgrown their containers, so I upgraded them. Others got potted into smaller containers or consolidated into one, some were split; creating a whole new plant and one was planted into the ground.

The good thing is that I repotted all those plants without spending a dime (other than the $2 I spent on the new plant). I was able to do this because I never throw any containers away, unless of course they are broken or so faded from the sun that they look awful. It really doesn’t take too much space to store them, they just get stacked up. And the best part is that I don’t have to run to the store and get a new one every time I want to repot a plant.

This might seem like a whole lot of commotion but It’s good to evaluate your plants every once in a while and arrange them accordingly.

How to know when your plants need repotting

A plant that is in need of repotting will show some obvious signs. This will let you know that your plants need to be repotted into larger containers. Some things you want to look for are:

  •  Roots are beginning to grow out of the bottom of the pot
  •  Roots are showing at the surface of the soil
  •  The plant has gotten so big that it looks like it’s stuffed inside the pot
  •  New leaves are starting to grow smaller and smaller

Sometimes you may also want to repot plants into smaller containers. The advantage of this is that they will look fuller because the proportion of plant to container is more balanced. If you have a tiny plant in a large container It makes the plant look even punier. But make sure your plants don’t show any of these signs above and that they have a small root system that will easily fit into the new smaller container.

When to repot your plants

Since repotting is already a bit stressful on the plant, you don’t want to add more stress by doing it at the wrong time. Although Spring and early Summer are the best times of year, you could do it at other times as long as the weather is not too hot or too cold.

As far as time of day, it’s best to repot during late afternoon (in the summer), when the sun is still out but it’s not as hot. The plant can have the milder conditions of the rest of the day to adapt to it’s new home.

Also, after repotting a plant do not place it it direct sunlight. This will let the plant to adapt without added stress.

How to repot a plant correctly

1. You’ll want to water the plant the day before but not the same day you are going to repot. Making the soil moist but not too wet will help make removing the plant from the old container that much easier.

2. To remove the plant from the pot, place one hand where the soil meets the stems holding the stems between your finger. Turn the pot upside down and gently tap around the sides and bottom until the plant comes loose. I your plant is in a plastic pot you can also gently squeeze the pot to loosen the soil.

3. Once out take a look at the roots. Remove any dead roots and gently loosen the root ball a bit if it looks really tight. Also remove some of the soil surrounding the roots.

4. Add a layer of soil or potting mix to the bottom of the new pot. Use a pot that is no more than twice the size of the old one. Then place the plant into the new container (centering it).

Don’t plant it too deep or too shallow. Position the plant so that it is at the same height as it was in the old container. Fill it with fresh soil or potting mix.  Pat down the new soil as it’s added and fill the container with soil up to 1″ from the rim.

Wait about a month to add fertilizer, this will allow any cut roots to regrow and not get fertilizer burn.

5. Now just give the plant  a good watering and let the plant adjust to its new home.

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