Repotting for Spring

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Fields are saturated with spring as flowers bloom and birds flit joyfully tree to tree singing their song. Purple lupine, yellow marigolds, orange poppies – colors are everywhere.

Right now green and yellow graces the hills in southern California, tiny wild oat and mustard seeds sprouting from the latest rains into gently waving stalks.

Spring has sprung.

And with it the perfect time to clean and freshen up in the home which includes potted plants. Since plants actively start to grow around now, take a moment to check them out.

Repotting is necessary when you can see the roots at the top of the soil; it tends to need more water or feels very light when picked up. By gently tilting the pot and pulling the plant out, it will be mostly roots taking on the shape of the container with very little soil left. Putting a plant that is not root-bound in a bigger pot might slow down its growth.

Plants that have just arrived home from the garden center needs to adjust to their new environment for a couple of weeks before repotting. Plants are in shock until they get used to new light, temperature, and humidity conditions. Instead, place the new plants in a cachepot until ready.

Most house plants should be repotted about once a year. Large ones such as ficus or slower growing plants can be done every two years or when the existing pot is outgrown. But a plant that is thriving and growing is a happy one and probably doesn’t need a bigger container.

Here are some tips before repotting.

  • The new pot needs to be 1 – 2’ in diameter bigger than the previous one.
  • It’s important the plant sits at the same level as it did in the former pot.
  • Be sure to tease the plant into growing more roots by grasping the bottom and breaking up the soil along with the roots.
  • If using a terra cotta pot, soak in water for a few hours so it doesn’t rob moisture from the plant.
  • Pack the soil tightly to avoid air pockets.
  • Create a little space at the top of the container so water doesn’t spill over.

Repotting is stressful for a plant. Be gentle and give it some time to adjust to its new pot. Water thoroughly to moisten the roots and settle the potting mix. Do not put the plant in direct sun light right away and keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. If the leaves are limp, it doesn’t have enough water. If they are turning yellow, it has too much water. And it is best to wait a month until the plant’s root system is better established before fertilizing.

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