Repotting Plants Ensure Their Long-term Health

Repotting Plants Ensure Their Long-term Health
Potted plants give a gardener the versatility to grow plants indoors and add color to patios and balconies. While potted plants are easy to move into an area that provides the best temperature and light conditions, they require proper care, just like plants growing in the ground, and grow best when repotted as necessary.

Why Plants Require Repottin
Plants need repotting when they have outgrown their pot or when the soil needs refreshed. Because the size of the pot limits the root growth for potted plants, it affects the plant's health if the plant becomes root-bound. While some plants like to be somewhat root-bound, others lose vigor and do not bloom when roots are crowded and unable to grow. This is true of many types of container plants, including perennials, bulbs, trees, shrubs and water plants.

When to Repot Plants
Plants that have tangled, cramped roots exhibit certain symptoms, such as stunted growth or an increased need for water, that alert the gardener to the need for a bigger pot. An older plant growing in a large pot needs repotting when it shows signs of growing poorly. If the size of the pot is not the problem, the plant may just need the roots trimmed or the soil refreshed. The time to repot plants is when doing do will not cause a minimal amount of stress. This is either prior to new growth in spring, after the flower has entered a dormant period, or once the plant has is not actively growing and is done blooming.
  • Repot deciduous plants after the leaves have dropped.
  • Repot evergreen plants in late fall to early spring
  • Repot flowering plants a season or two before flowering, or after blooms fade.

How to Repot Plants
There are a few steps required to safely repot plants:
  • Tilt the container to remove the plant carefully. If the plant and soil does not slide out easily, slide a knife along the inside to loosen the roots.
  • Tight roots need to be eased apart gently, removing soil as they are separated. Remove about one-third of any fibrous roots.
  • Choose a larger container to repot the plant, about two to three times wider than the current pot for immature plants. For mature plants, the same size pot, but add fresh soil.
  • If using clay pots, soak the pots overnight to avoid plant stress.
  • Add sterile soil mix to the new pot and position the plant in the pot before filling the pot will soil. Water well after repotting.

Alternative to Repotting
Instead of completely removing mature plants to refresh the soil, gardeners can remove the top 2 to 4 inches of the soil in the pot each year and replace it with fresh soil mix. When doing so, avoid damaging the plants tender root system and any feeder roots that grow near the top of the soil. While this works for mature plants, immature plants often need a larger pot, so this method is not meant for younger potted plants.