Sunday, 12 April 2015

Repotting Plants (Indoor Gardening)

I have always found Spring to be the best time of year to transfer your plants into larger pots, as they will be starting into their growth seasons now. Most indoor plants grow year round, but they do seem to slow down in the winter months. As the sun is getting warmer and the days are getting longer, the plants will grow their most in the Spring and Summer months. I think April is the month to do repotting, as this growth season will just be starting and the roots will be expanding. I wouldn't recommend doing this in the winter, as your plant may not adjust to the larger pot well.

Clear an area on your table or counter or wherever you plan to do this. You can cover up the area with newspaper or a plastic sheet if you want to protect the surface. Have at hand some potting soil, water, an assortment of plant pots, pot holders (that hold the excess water) and a spoon or small hoe/trowel for digging. These are the basics for the task at hand.

Once you have all your tools together bring over the plants you want to repot. I have an Avocado tree that needs a larger pot and some cuttings that I have put in water to grow roots that are more than ready to be placed in a pot.

I started with the Avocado. This particular plant is a little less than a year old and is very hearty. I planted the nut (seed) and it didn't seem to grow at all. About a month later, I planted a second nut and they both sprouted at about the same time. I was surprised the first one took twice as long to sprout, but it grew thicker and taller than the other one. Back to the job at hand, you want to loosen your soil in the current pot that your plant resides. Take your trowel or spoon and dig around the edge of the pot.

Dig all the way around and as deep as you can, to completely loosen the dirt from sticking to the pot. I would not recommend digging just the plant out of the dirt it is in to replant it. Keep it in it's original dirt to cushion the plant and it's roots. This helps to prevent the plant from going into shock over the change, which can cause the plant to become sick and maybe even die. You might be lucky and it will survive, but this way seems gentler to me.

At this point, the new pot that you are planning to place your plant into should be partially filled with dirt. Fill it up to a height that would be good for the bottom of your plant to rest on, to fit into the new pot nicely.

Gently pull your plant and it's dirt out of the pot. Be careful not to yank the plant too harshly, you don't want to damage it. It should give way nicely if you have loosened it well. If you have trouble getting it out, dig around it some more and try going a bit deeper to loosen that soil.

So here is the plant and all the dirt now removed from the smaller pot. You can see that the roots have grown down and around the bottom of the old pot. This indicates that it is definitely time to repot this plant. The new pot is just underneath with a layer of soil to put the plant on. I also have some of the leaves that have fallen off the plant in there to compost and help nourish the roots. Be careful and check that this is a good idea for your particular type of plant, as some plants do better with the dead leaves taken away and thrown out or composted separately. Some plants can also be harmful and poisonous to pets and children, as they may chew on them, so choose your plants wisely.

Place your plant into it's new home and keep it as level as possible, so there isn't too much stress on the plant. It has to get used to it's new, larger pot, so try to keep any change as minimal as possible. You don't want it to have to adapt to too many changes at once.

Now take your potting soil and fill in the pot with enough dirt to hold the plant in steady. I have left the nut exposed a little bit at the top of the soil, as this is still a young tree and I want it to grow easily. I want to wait until it has a good trunk, before I cover over the nut with soil completely.

It is important to water your plant at this point. It may not be your regular watering day and it may not have been that long since you watered it. However, it is a good idea to water it after the transfer to help it adapt to the change. Be careful not to over water it, you want to sort of dampen the new soil your plant is exposed to. That kind of an idea. Get rid of any excess water that ends up in the pot holder. You can now move your plant back to it's normal location or if you are growing a tree, like this, you may need to find a new spot to keep your plant as it gets taller and larger.

Avocados are great trees to grow indoors for those of us in northern climates and can't get them to grow outside. I had good success with growing these plants when I lived in Southern Ontario, but I struggle with them here. The extremely cold winters combined with electric heat in my apartment, causes trouble. The electric heat is the worst, as it dries everything out. I know it's getting bad when I go to pet my cats and I get a shock from them. Poor things. It makes it difficult to regulate the amount of water to give my plants. They can get really dry between watering, but watering them too often can cause problems, too. I thought this tree was a goner when it began to turn brown at the top and shrivel up. But I kept watering it and hoping it would survive and low and behold it started to grow branches. I am so happy it looks like it will make it.

Now I just hope it will make through next winter. I'm not sure if the other avocado is going to make it all though. :-(

Well this is turning into a long post, so I will continue tomorrow with planting the cuttings. Thanks for reading!

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