Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Moving on Up Most Plants Root for Change to Larger Quarters

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Moving on Up Most Plants Root for Change to Larger Quarters

Article excerpt

Most plants growing in containers benefit from a repotting. This is a good time to check because spring transplanting also tends to stimulate new growth. Plants that appreciate larger quarters usually will provide ample clues.

Look for such things as discolored or yellowing leaves; roots coming out of the drain hole or growing exposed on top; a plant that wilts frequently and needs daily watering, or water that runs out of a pot as soon as applied. Those are symptoms of a pot-bound plant.

A secondary benefit of spring repotting is the opportunity to reassess the placement and number of outdoor containers.

Since too many small containers are a guaranteed maintenance nightmare, can the plants be grouped in larger containers? Did the plants seem to suffer last year in the afternoon sun? Did the containers get too hot? Is a shift to morning sun feasible?

Many houseplants can be pruned at the roots and the top and returned to the same pot after adding fresh growing medium. This also helps keep them small enough for indoor culture.

Repotting used to be called "shifting" - transferring a plant from a small to a larger pot - and the rules were pretty inflexible. Only the next-size pot could be used: a plant growing in a 3-inch pot had to be moved to a 4-inch pot.

Now the process is more flexible, but many of the old practices still are good basics, although they developed from commercial needs, where plants were grown to be shipped.

A basic rule: Pots need to be clean. Try not to move plants while the ball of soil is wet; wait until it's dry enough to crumble. Plants should never be reset deeper than they were growing originally. Foliage should be pruned to match any loss of roots in transplanting.

Another good rule: if the plant did well in the old container, stick with the same type - plastic or clay.

However, in the home, a plant should survive just fine if moved from a 2-inch to a 4-inch pot or from a 4-inch to 6-inch. …

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