10 Tips for Plant Repotting

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Plant repotting is a joy that many plant lovers take great care in doing. If this is a new endeavour, it can be one that seems to requires some skill.  The following are a few tips to get the process right.

1. Is It Time

The best time to re-pot a plant is just before it will begin to actively start re-growing. This will typically be right before spring hits.

2. Choose the Pot

Whether the plant will be re-potted into a clay, ceramic, or plastic pot, it is important that the size of the new pot is favorable.  Ideally, the new pot should be only one size larger than the old or 1-2 inches larger in diameter. Any larger, the new pot will slow growth; any smaller and it may stunt growth.

3. Clean and Soak

It is a good idea to thoroughly clean the new pot with a bleach and water solution (1:9 ratio), especially if it was once the home for another plant species. Also, clay pots should be soaked in water prior to accepting new soil and plants. This will stop the clay from stripping the soil of valuable moisture when it is imperative later on.

4. Save the Soil

When re-potting, the size of the drainage hole in the new pot can drain soil as well as water. To stop this from happening, simply cover the drainage hole with piece of broken pot with round side facing up. This will prevent the soil from leaving the new pot while still letting water drip.

5. Moving Out

Removing the plant from the old pot doesn’t have to be a daunting task if done properly. First, water the plant well right before removing it. This will not only moisten the roots protecting them from damage during the removal, but also loosen the soil making the entire root ball more malleable. Turn the pot upside down, grabbing the the pant at its stem near the topsoil, and tap gently on the pot until the root ball and soil come out. If it is a plastic pot, squeeze gently to massage the ball out.

6. Prepping for the Move

Before placing the plant into its new home, prep the root ball by “teasing” the roots. Break away a bit of soil from the roots at the bottom of the ball and cut away any dead and rotting roots. This will stimulate growth and allow the roots to dig into the new soil below it.

7. Moving In

It is important to have the plant at the same height over the edge of the new pot as it was with the old one. Since the new pot will be larger the old one, the level of soil should be raised by pouring in the new soil.  This will reduce the depth of the pot. Do not use gravel or sand. This will only stunt growth and strip the soil from much needed water. Once the plant is placed onto the new soil in the new pot, fill in around the root ball with new soil. A small spade can really help pack down the soil around the edges.

8. Choose Right Soil

Different plants have different needs. This means that it is crucial that a soil is chosen that meets the needs of the plant being re-potted. Plants like cacti thrive in larger grain sand, perhaps even a sand/soil mix. This will let them drain more. However others, like orchids and violets, do much better in a finer soil.

9. Watering

Once the plants is completely re-potted and the soil is filled it, make sure to water the plant until it begins to drip from the bottom. Apply more top soil if need be.

10. Do Not Fertilize for Six Weeks

Most soil comes with fertilizer mixed in. Because if this, it is not prudent to fertilize the plant right away, and to wait at least six weeks. Consult the directions on the soil to find out more information about fertilization.


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