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Repotting Houseplants and Container Plants

Most plants eventually outgrow the containers they are in. If you give them plenty of love, repotting day will come sooner rather than later.

When you repot your plants, they will reward you with faster, more lush growth.

When selecting new pots and containers, go up a size or two (an inch or two more in diameter). If you pick a container that's too big, the plant will look dwarfed, until it grows into it's new home. Too small, and you will soon be repotting again.

Signs your plant needs to be repotted:

There are not a lot of obvious signs that your plants need repotting.

  • Plants too tall for the container - If they appear to be in danger of tipping over, or have already done so, it's time to repot them. 

  • Soil is depleted - healthy plants consume the nutrients of container bound soil. The soil turns unsightly, gets crusted over with salts, or has mold or fungus growth.

  • Root bound - Sometimes, it's hard to tell when a plant gets root bound, as all the action is going on, unseen under the soil. If your plant's growth slows to almost a stop, this could be the cause.

Repotting houseplants and container plants:

Put plastic or newspapers down on the area where you will be working.

Select a new container.

Buy a general purpose potting soil.

Note: There are special soil mixtures for some plants, most notably for African Violets. In most cases, specially formulated soils are not necessary.

Fill a little potting soil into the bottom of the new container. Estimate an amount so the plant will be as deep in the soil, as it was in the old pot.

Carefully, remove the plant from the old pot or container. It often helps to take a knife and slide it along the inside of the pot. Do not hesitate to break or cut open the old pot, if doing so will minimize disturbing the roots.

Put the roots of the plant into the new pot.

Fill soil around the roots, gently tamping down the soil as you go.

Water thoroughly.

After a few days or more, you may need to add a little more soil, where settling has occurred.

Your repotted plant should not require fertilizer for a while, as the new soil likely has all that is needed.

Repotting Large Plants:

For repotting large plants, follow the same procedure as above. When it comes to filing the new pot with soil, add materials as follows:

  • First, add 1/2 to 1 inch of coarse builders' sand, gravel, or pebbles. This is the drainage layer.

  • Add a thin layer of charcoal granules, to keep odors from developing.

  • Add  a layer of Sphagnum Moss. This keeps soil from seeping into the drainage layer.  

  • Add 1/2 to 1 inch of well draining, fertile potting soil.

  • Insert the plant, and finish filling with potting soil.

Related Gardening Topics:

Pots and Containers

Garden Seeds & Supplies

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