Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Moving On Up!

Ready for a new home!

 It is Spring, even though here in the Midwest, you would never know that. This month has been cold, wet, and even snowy at times. But this weather doesn't really affect your houseplants inside. They have longer days with more light and they are waking up and actively growing. Now is the time to check your houseplants to see if they need to be up-potted ("potting on" as they say in England). Your plants may be struggling because they need to be in bigger quarters. There roots have filled their pots and they need some space to breathe. They need to move on up!

FYI: If you have a plant that is older and in a container that is unable to be moved, remove the top 1-2 inches of soil and add fresh soil. This is called topdressing and is a great way to give a larger plant a "shot in the arm". If you are able to get it out of the container and remove some soil from the bottom as well, and put fresh in, that would be better. Prune the top at the same time, to give the new roots time to catch up. This also works for plants that are at the ultimate size you would like to keep them. Root pruning and trimming the top allows you to keep a plant the same size for a long time. A loose form of bonsai, if you will.

Croton that is rootbound and soil deficient.

Following are the steps to up-pot a root bound plant:

 This croton is root bound, has fallen over a few times, and lost a lot of soil. It is definitely time to move to a new container. This plastic container wasn't heavy enough to keep this plant from toppling over. Moving it into a clay or ceramic pot will help with this problem.



Roots that need some more soil.

If your root ball looks like this, it is definitely time to move up to a new size container. If you have to water your plant more than once a week to keep it moist, this also indicates to you that your plant may need a bigger home.  
Make sure when picking a new home for your plant, though,  to select the next size container up from the one it currently resides in. If the plant is in a 6" pot, move up to a 7 or 8" pot. Many people make the mistake of moving up to a container that is too large, which usually  results in root rot.
From one size to the next one up

The pot on the right is the old container and the pot on the left is the pot I moved the croton into. I would recommend that the pot be cleaned and disinfected before moving a new plant into it. Soaking a clay pot before you use it is a good idea, as well. Otherwise, the dry clay pot will steal water from the soil. (Do as I say, not as I do!)

Checking the size.

Notice how there is only an inch or so of space around the old root ball. This is the perfect size to move up to.

  I will water the plant to settle the soil and this plant is ready to take off and fill the pot with new roots. It would thank me if it could!

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