Plant Basics: Repotting
There are two main times when it’s beneficial to repot a plant, or change a plants soil. Those are 1) when the plant has outgrown the pot, or 2) when the soil has been depleted from important nutrients. I’m going to show you an example of a plant that shows both.
This little buddy is quite neglected, and definitely in need of new soil and a bigger pot. (I totallllly neglected it intentionally…. Just for this blog post….. You’re welcome.) When trying to tell if a plant needs new soil or not, consider if the plant looks comfortable and if the environment (the pot and the soil) seem fitting. A pot is like a plants home, and you want it to be a good one. Soil is important because it’s literally the foundation for a plant. It needs to support the roots and the stalk of the plant, it needs to provide nutrients, and it needs to hold the right amount of water to keep the plant hydrated. If your soil isn’t doing this, your plant won’t flourish.
Take a peek at the soil. It’s dusty, gritty, clumpy, and doesn’t really look ‘lush.’ Not a happy home for this plant.
You can see the difference between dry, old soil that is totally depleted of nutrients (on the top), and lush, healthy new soil on the bottom. The old soil is basically just perlite at this point, and not really useful for supplying the plant with the nutrients it needs.
Start by taking it out of it’s current pot. If you’re unfamiliar with how to remove a plant from the pot, here’s a few tips. Make sure that you have a firm grip on the base of the plant, as close to the soil as you can get. With the pot secured in your other hand, gently begin moving the stock of the plant in circular motions, loosening the entire root ball from the walls of the pot. Once you feel like you have wiggle room to slide the plant out, gently tug upward in a very straight motion. If you wiggle, and wiggle, and wiggle, and feel like your plant just does not want to come out, it could be because the roots are too impacted. In this case, take a sharp knife and very carefully stick it into the pot repeatedly. This will sever some of the roots, making it easier to pull up.
Once you get your plant out of the pot, survey the root ball. In the case of this plant, the roots are seriously impacted. Yikes.
Gently begin pulling at the base of the roots, breaking them up. When roots are this seriously impacted, it’s okay to discard the majority of them. The root ball should be large enough to keep the plant supported in the soil and absorb a sufficient amount of water, but they don’t need to take over the entire pot.
This is about right for a root ball for this size plant.
Plant your little guy in a larger pot, and viola!! A happier, healthier plant.