Repotting Tropicals

What is Repotting

It’s the process of moving a plant into a larger pot to allow continued root development.

When Should I Repot My Plants?

The best time to repot or transplant is at the beginning of an active growing season (in the spring). Occasionally it’s necessary to repot a plant that has outgrown its pot at other times of the year.

How Can I Tell When When My Plants Need Repotting? 

The main function of soil is to provide support for the plant, so it can take up water and nutrients. As long as your plant is happily growing in its pot, there is no need for repotting. But if you have a plant in a simple plastic pot and you are looking to change it to a new more decorative container, then consider false-planting or pot-in pot. This is when you simply place the plastic pot into the decorative pot. If you are picking up a new plant for your home, talk to one of our knowledgable staff for more information about when it will need to be repotted.

To see if your plant should be repotted, remove it from the pot to check its roots. Hold your hand over the soil around the base of the plant and tip the pot onto its side. Gently squeeze or tap the sides of the pot to loosen the roots and soil and pull carefully on the plant to remove it from the pot. If the pot is clay, use the small end of a wooden spoon to push the plant away from the bottom of the pot. If there are more roots than soil in the pot, it’s time to repot.

How Often Should I Transplant My Plants?

Some indoor tropical plants prefer to be pot-bound, this is when there are more roots than soil, or roots creeping out of the holes in the pot. Do a bit of research or ask around and find out what makes your plant happy. Many flowering plants will bloom better if their roots are cramped, hoya for example. Others, like hibiscus and gardenia, will benefit from being repotted in early spring (March or April), although generally speaking repotting plants when they are in bloom is not recommended. Slow growing plants need to be repotted less frequently, cacti and succulents often do well for several years in the same pot.

What Size Pot Does My Plant Need?

Repot your plant into a pot one size larger. For example, move from a 4” diameter (10cm) pot to a 6” (12.5cm) pot. There should be no more than 1” to 1.5” (2.5cm to 4cm) of new soil around the root ball.

Should I Use Clay or Plastic?

The choice is yours as long as the container has adequate drainage (holes in the bottom are critical). Some gardeners put broken pottery shards, drain rock, or mesh in the bottom of the pot before adding soil to prevents the soil from escaping out the drain holes. This is not necessary but some people do prefer it. Do be aware that soil in clay pots will tend to dry out much faster than plastic due to it’s porous nature.

Do I Need a Special Soil?

Yes, you need to use indoor potting soil that has been sterilized to prevent pests and disease from developing. There are different types of premixed soils available, all of which are well suited to certain varieties of plants. When potting be sure to press down the new soil in the pot so water will not collect in the air spaces when you water the plant. Use GARDENWORKS Transplanter fertilizer 5-15-5 when you first water after repotting. It will help to reduce transplant shock and encourage the growth of healthy new roots. And always remember to feed your indoor tropicals regularly using a specially formulated indoor fertilizer during active growth periods (April to October) to make sure you are adding nutrients to the soil. Happy planting.

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