Spring Is here! Finally! It is obvious outside as the crocus, daffodils, tulips, and other flowers are appearing. But things are happening inside, too; our houseplants are waking up and sending out new growth. It’s such a wonderful time of year!
In the late fall, especially here in the northern part of the United States where I live, the days get much shorter and the nights longer. This isn’t the most ideal time to up-pot a plant. Though our houseplants may still be growing, the rate of growth has slowed down immensely, to the point where most plants are entering a dormant period. This is an adaptation plants have in response to less than ideal conditions in which they may be growing.
They aren’t photosynthesizing as long as there is a shorter time where they can gather light, so our watering practices will change as well as our fertilization schedules. I stop fertilizing in the wintertime. Yet, at the end of February and into March, our plants begin to receive more light as the days grow longer and they will start to send out new growth and again, our watering practices may change and we begin to fertilize our plants.
Signs of growth
Though it is obvious that things are happening to the plant as we see the new leaves appearing, did you know there is also new growth happening in the potting medium that we can’t see? If a plant is growing new leaves, it needs more roots to help sustain the new growth. The plant will require more water and nutrients and the new roots will help supply that. That’s why it is the best time of the year to repot or up-pot your plants if necessary. Always check the root ball to see if the plant is rootbound. You may not need to do anything to your plant if it is a newer plant.
There may be other signs that are an indication your plant needs to be up-potted (moved into a larger container). It may need water more than usual, wilting only a few days after watering. It may be top-heavy and need at the very least, a heavier pot, not necessarily a larger pot. Again, check the root system first.
The extremely rootbound plant below is one I’m using as an example. (I hope I’m not allowing my plants to get to this point of being so extremely rootbound. This was an annual plant at our garden center at the end of the season.) This container plant has almost 1/2 of its soil gone because of the large root system. What should you do? For this rootbound plant, I used a knife to cut the bottom off and then cut slits into the root ball to encourage new feeder roots. Try to untangle or unwind roots that are circling the root ball.
Repotting a rootbound plant
The pictures below are of an asparagus fern and these along with spider plants may have roots so large they push the plant out of the pot or distort a plastic pot to the point it has to be cut off the plant.
The supplies needed for up-potting include a good quality indoor potting medium, a new correct size container, and I like to use a piece of screen to cover the hole, a tag, and a pencil (not a permanent marker which is not permanent on plant stakes) to write the name of the plant and the date when it was repotted. Only go up one size at a time unless your plant is extremely rootbound and then you may be able to go up two sizes. It depends on the type of plant and its growth rate so research your plant first. You can always go up another size later, but going too large can cause problems such as root rot, and then you may lose your plant.
If you have a plant that you feel needs a new pot, now is the time to begin to do that and you can continue to repot anytime throughout the growing season. Check your plants’ roots and see if they are in need of a new, roomier home.
Have a great week, plant friends!