Repotting Plants: Give Them a New Home Sweet Home

Repotting your plants might seem like a hassle, but you would be amazed at how they spring back to life in a few weeks. All it takes is a little root pruning, fresh potting mix, a larger pot – and maybe a little TLC to get them back on their feet.

Best of all, repotting gives you the opportunity to elevate your home with planters that have personalities to match your unique decorating tastes. Besides, an unhealthy plant is an ugly plant, right?

Follow these tips to give your plants a new lease on life.

Choose the right container

Soggy soil is a big killer of container plants, so use pots with drainage holes so that water will not stagnate and lead to rot. If you’re concerned about excess water damaging your floor or surfaces, place them in decorative cache pots or on saucers.

Size also matters. Pick a pot that is only slightly larger than the previous one so that the roots have room to grow. An oversized pot not only looks awkward, but the extra potting mix around the roots will stay soggy and lead to rot and disease.

Before committing to that old flowerpot you’ve been using since the ’80s, consider an upgrade. Even the humble terra-cotta pot is worth a look for its classic and earthy appeal, especially when you have a whole collection.

Glazed ceramic pots are on the pricier side, but rich colors and brilliant finishes make them invaluable additions to the home and garden. Use caution whenever using terra-cotta and ceramic pots outdoors though, since they’re prone to cracking in freezing weather.

If you’re looking for a pot that you can leave outdoors all winter, concrete and fiberglass are the way to go. Concrete planters range from rough and unfinished hypertufa troughs to sleek and boxy modern styles – but they’re heavy.

The new fiberglass pots on the market are lightweight, weather resistant, and make very convincing substitutes for whatever material you want to emulate. Best of all, they can be purchased at a fraction of the price you’d pay for their concrete and glazed ceramic counterparts.

Choose the right potting mix

Notice that the word ‘soil’ wasn’t used. Garden soil is inappropriate for container plants because it either drains poorly or too quickly, contains weed seeds and pests, and quite simply will lead to your plant’s untimely demise.

Instead, choose an all-purpose potting mix or one of its many variants. If you are planting hanging baskets, use a moisture-retentive mix, or add either peat or coir to keep the plants from drying out.

For succulents and other plants that require excellent drainage, use a cactus mix or add an amendment like perlite or vermiculite to keep the soil from getting too soggy.

Prepare plants for repotting

Water plants a day before repotting to make the roots less brittle and loosen up the potting mix to help plants better adjust to transplanting.

Have your materials together and ready to go before planting. This will limit exposure to the drying air and prevent unnecessary damage to the roots. If you have to leave the plants out for more than several minutes, wrap the roots with moist newspaper.

Gently tease the roots apart with your fingers to help them regrow and spread out quickly. If the roots are bound so tightly together that they’re impossible to break apart, use a clean knife to cut across the bottom of the rootball in the shape of an ‘x’ to quickly promote new growth.

While the plant is out of its container, inspect the roots and soil for any problems. Remove any rotted, mushy roots with a clean knife to prevent further rot after replanting.

Potting up

Once you’ve prepared the plants and have your materials ready, add enough potting mix so that you can set the plant in the pot with its crown an inch below the rim. Continue shoveling in potting mix until the pot is nearly full, then add water to help it settle around the roots.

If desired, cover the potting mix with a decorative mulch of stones, gravel, seashells, or orchid bark.

If you had to prune your plant’s roots while repotting, trim off their leaves or stems as well. They might look ugly at first, but trimming the top-growth prevents moisture loss and helps the plants recover from root-pruning.

Don’t worry! They’ll bounce back in no time and look better than ever.

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