Know When To Re-pot Your Plant

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When do I re-pot my plant?

One of the most imperative parts of insuring the health and longevity of your plant is it’s soil and knowing when to re-pot your plant. Be mindful when re-potting. This can be stressful on some plants and should not be done frequently or without consideration. You can re-pot a plant any time of year, but always consider your climate and your plant’s current environment. Roots exposed to colder temperatures are more stressed than those in warmer environments. Re-pot your plant at the tail end of winter and the beginning of spring. Your plant will have time to adjust in its new home before its strongest period of growth.

This Hoya Super Eskimo has been re-potted with fresh soil in its original planter.

Know When To Refresh Your Soil

Replace your potting mix every 1 to 2 years. There is only so much vitamins and fertilizer can do for your soil. Over time, the nutrients in your plant’s soil are depleted. Soil can become compact over time and roots will suffocate. Roots need oxygen in order to perform at their best. Soil becomes too hydrophobic if the soil is left dry for extended periods of time. Even if you wish to keep your plant in the same pot, adding fresh soil will help facilitate the vitality of your plant. Don’t be afraid to prune some roots and pot your plant in the same planter. Always sanitize your planter before potting, even if you are reusing the same pot.

Over time salt and minerals build-up in your soil. When we use tap water, it has a tendency to solidify calcium and other minerals. This is often seen in bathrooms and kitchens. In plants, you can observe calcium build up on foliage and porous planters like terracotta. Don’t forget to flush plants monthly to remove excess salt and mineral build-up.

This Manjula Pothos is happy in her slightly snug pot.

Don’t Forget To Root Check

Take this opportunity to observe your plants root health. Whether this plant has been in your care for some time or it is the newest addition to your collection, you should be checking your plant’s roots. Healthy appearance in foliage isn’t always indicative of root health.

Root aphids and root mealybugs can be lurking in the soil. These pest often go unnoticed until the plant starts to show signs of decline or you see them on the rim of the pot. Root mealybugs colonize in their distinct cottony blue grossness on the roots and soil.

The most important thing you should look out for is rot. Root rot does not that happen overnight. Soil remaining wet after 7 days requires examining the roots. If you find your self in this situation, gently remove all of the substrate and carefully tease the roots loose. Rinse the remaining soil and prune any dead and mushy roots off. Go to your spice cabinet and sprinkle some cinnamon on the roots. Cinnamon is a natural fungicide and helps reduce transplant shock. However, I highly recommend having something a little stronger in your arsenal such as Sulfur and Physan 20. These products are more effective at killing and stopping the progression of root rot. You can find my favorite products for treating root rot here.

Pictured here you can see the mineral build up on this terracotta pot.

Choose The Appropriate Pot Size

When selecting the next home for your plant, consider the following. If choosing a larger pot, go for a planter 1 to 2 inches larger. Most plants like to be relatively snug. Planters come in all sizes. It’s better to have too snug a pot than too large. Always make sure your planter has drainage.

Too large of a pot makes drainage more difficult. The medium will remain too wet for too long leading to root rot. Roots should be able to absorb all of the water between watering. Avoid using potting soil straight out of the bag and consider customizing your own mix. Coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, horticultural charcoal, and orchid bark are excellent soil amendments to have on hand. You can scale these to better match your plant’s needs, environment and watering habits.

This adorable Philodendron Mamei planted in Fox Farm, horticulural charcoal, perlite, and orchid bark.

Signs Your Plant Needs A Re-pot

Consider re-potting if your plant has become root bound. You will notice the tell-tale signs of roots coming out of top soil, or most often out the drainage holes. If your plant is showing signs of stress, becoming scraggly, pale or slowly growing it may have become pot bound.

It is time to change pots when the plant is easily knocked over or top heavy. Often times nursery pots do not hold enough weight for tall, showy foliage like the classic Bird of Paradise or most Alocasias. Move your plant into a sturdier and heavier pot such as terracotta or ceramic.

This Philodendron Birkin had a strong root system and was climbing out of its pot.

Check out my Instagram to see my collection of tropical plants and aroids. Thanks for reading. Happy planting!


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