Repot plants for larger
blooms, greener foliage



May 20, 2011

by Gloria Spell, Victoria County Master Gardener

edited by Charla Borchers Leon,
Victoria County Master Gardener
Gardeners' Dirt
PHOTOS BY GLORIA SPELL/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
The overgrown size of the plants in this ot and the yellowing of the leaf are signs the plants are overcrowded and need to be repotted.
LEFT:  Select a new pot no more than 2 inches wider at its rim or 2 inches deeper than the old pot.  A pot that is too large can affect the plant by slowing the growth.

RIGHT:  Compacted roots need to be broken apart before repotting.  Break apart the root ball and untangle the roots, and prune them to stimulate root growth before planting in the new pot.
Healthy larger blooms and green foliage should be the result of a properly repotted plant.
Everyone who enjoys having house plants knows that eventually most plants will need repotting.

There are a number of reasons for repotting a plant:

*To provide a good potting mix and nutrients for the plant

*To replace a too small container with a larger container that provides room for growth.

*To replace poor or compacted soil.

Often the best time for repotting is in the spring when plants begin a time of rapid growth. The plant will more readily recover from the shock after being moved.

It is better to repot plants after they finish blooming as this is less stressful for the plant.

Regardless of the reason, repotting a plant requires a new pot and fresh soil.

HOW DO YOU KNOW PLANTS NEED REPOTTING?


It is easy to ignore your houseplants in the winter or when you get busy with life's demands. Before long, you notice your plants look wilted and some of the leaves have turned yellow or brown. Sometimes, the leaves have dropped and the plant appears to be dying.

Most likely the plant has simply out grown its pot and needs to be moved to a larger one.

*Root rot

Another more common problem with houseplants is root rot, which is a disease of the plant's roots that prevents the plant from obtaining the water and nutrients it needs. It is a soil-borne fungus caused by too much moisture.

To treat root rot, you first need to remove the plant from the soil and gently wash the roots under running water.

Second, you need to remove the infected soil and roots. Use scissors to cut infected roots. Dip the remaining roots in a fungicide solution.

Third, you need to repot the plant in new soil and put the plant in a container having better drainage.

Do not fertilize the plant in the weeks immediately after treating for root rot.

Since root rot is a result of over watering and the container lacks adequate drainage, you need to cut back on the frequency of watering.

WHAT ARE THE STEPS FOR REPOTTING?

The new pot should not be larger than 2 inches wider at its rim or even 2 inches deeper than the old pot. A pot that is too large can affect the plant by slowing the growth. Thus, the top of the plant will not grow until the roots begin to fill the container. Sometimes simply pruning the root ball and placing the plant back in the original pot may solve the problem.

It is not necessary to add gravel over the drainage hole. If you are worried that the potting mix will run out of the drainage hole, a piece of paper towel, metal screening, a shard from a broken pot or coffee filter can be used to cover the hole.

Old pots need to be well scrubbed to remove diseases left from prior use.

You can disinfect a pot by soaking it in a solution of one part chlorine bleach to nine parts of water. Rinse with clear water. If the pot is terra cotta, soak in water for several hours before planting. Presoak new terra cotta pots, since they may rob moisture from the soil.

Ready-to-use potting mixes are soilless. The mix is composed basically of peat moss, or ground bark. Vermiculite, perlite and sand can be added to the mix to allow more air into the soil. Good compost is also welcomed to the mix.

HOW DO YOU REPOT A PLANT

*Thoroughly water the plant several hours or a day before repotting.

*Remove the plant from its original pot; turn it on its side and gently remove the plant. If the roots are root-bound, tap the bottom to loosen it, being careful to not damage the root ball.

*If the roots are coiled tightly around the bottom, use your finger to pull them straight. Unwind circling roots and prune the roots before placing the plant in the pot. This will stimulate root growth in the new pot.

*If the plant is pot-bound, make shallow cuts every few inches from the top to the bottom of the root ball with a sharp knife. If you plan to put the plant back in the same pot, cut off an inch or two of the root ball.

*Fill of the new pot with a good potting mix. Center the plant in the pot and fill the sides with the soil mixture. Tamp down soil with your fingers around the sides of the container.

*When weight of the potted plant is a concern, water before adding the potting mix to lessen the weight. Use Styrofoam packing peanuts in the bottom of very large pots before adding the potting mix to fill space and lessen the weight.

Now, watch your happy plant respond with larger blooms and greener foliage.
COME OUT TO THE GARDENS

WHAT: Master Gardener ribbon cutting and open house
WHEN: Sunday, May 22 2-4 p.m.
WHERE: Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion, 283 Bachelor Drive, Victoria Regional Airport


Join us for an official ribbon cutting and open house of the Victoria Educational Gardens Pavilion.  Representatives of the Victoria Chamber of Commerce, Victoria County and Texas AgriLife Extension Service will participate in the program.  Community donors will be recognized with music by Patti Welder Woodwind Quintet and activities for children and light refreshments provided.

Victoria Educational Gardens is complete with the construction of its Pavilion at Victoria Regional Airport.  For educational purposes of Texas AgriLife Extension Service, this air-conditioned facility is also available for use by the public for a fee and can accommodate several hundred participants at a time.  For more information, contact Victoria County Extension Office at 361-575-4581.

LUNCH AND LEARN WITH THE MASTERS

WHEN: Monday, May 23 noon-1 p.m.
WHERE:  Pattie Dodson Health Center, 2805 N. Navarro, Victoria
COST:  Free

*Bring your lunch and drink
*"Growing and Enjoying Herbs," presented by Victoria County Master Gardener, Eunice Lee
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or vcmga@vicad.com, or comment on this column at www.VictoriaAdvocate.com