Recent cold snap notwithstanding, spring has definitely arrived here in South Carolina and it looks like we’re going to get a few weeks to enjoy it before summer temperatures start creeping in. For many years, spring has been a time to plan for growing things and, although we don’t currently have the capacity to garden or really grow any food beyond herbs, I still take the time to pay some attention to my house plants and their growth. Many house plants will go through a growth spurt in the spring, so early in the season is the perfect time to repot them in preparation for the new growth.
Repotting container plants is an essential part of their care, in addition to regular watering and fertilization, and usually only needs to be done on an annual-ish basis. As plants grow and age, they deplete nutrients from the soil and mineral salts can build up in their stead. Refreshing the soil is a big part of why repotting is necessary, but giving plants more room to grow is just as important a reason. Quick-growing plants can become pot-bound, which means that the roots don’t have enough room to spread throughout the pot, instead circling around the root ball or poking out through drainage holes. This PennState Extension page has a lot of good information about repotting, how to determine if your plant is pot-bound, and what to do if it is. Quick shout out to agricultural extension agencies: you’re the best.I have a lot of plants, so the first step for my repotting adventures is to strategize my pot plan and pre-water the plants. Because several of my plants are all about the same size, I needed to pick up some 10″ pots and some new potting soil before getting down to business. Luckily, several of my plants are also a size smaller than those, so I was able to reuse several pots as well. When choosing pot sizes, you first need to decide if you want the plant to grow larger. If you do, the pot should be just the next size up–you don’t want to scale up too far!
This is a Christmas cactus that is one of many descendants of the Audrey II of Christmas cacti. I am very proud that I have not only kept it alive, but that it blossomed for the first time about a month ago. Seriously though, this plant’s mom is e-nor-mous.
Anyhow, the second step is to prepare your new pot by adding enough soil that the plant will be level with the lip of the pot. Many people put a coffee filter or newspaper in the bottom to keep soil from falling out, but I don’t bother.
The third step involves an occasionally harrowing dance of tipping the plant upside down, while also trying to pull it from its pot. Brush some of the excess soil away from the root ball and inspect for any sickness. If the plant is pot-bound, you may need to cut away some of the roots to ensure a healthy future. Check out the extension page above for more info on this step in particular.
Place the plant into its new pot, trying as best you can to center it. All that’s left to do now is to fill in the area around the root ball with new soil and pat it down a bit to make sure the root ball is stable. Oh, and give everyone a thorough watering to help them settle in to their new digs.
That plant on the right is so much happier in its new pot. It’s always surprising to me how different my plants look after repotting, like I can’t even fathom how they lived in such small pots after seeing them in their new homes.
Make sure to keep an eye on everyone in the days after repotting. That kind of trauma can be too much for some, but hopefully everyone settles in and gets back to the important work of growing.
While spring has definitely arrived, she has brought with her some stiff winds that simultaneously make my apartment feel fresh and clean while also blowing in massive amounts of pollen. Alas. Since the temperatures haven’t quite warmed up to the point that I’m busting out the gin and tonic, I thought I’d experiment with some spring flavors in this warming, yet refreshing bourbon cocktail.
- 2 oz. whiskey or bourbon
- 0.5-1 oz. ginger liqueur
- 4 oz. lemonade
- Sprig of thyme to garnish
Combine the ingredients over ice, stir, garnish, and enjoy. If you are a big fan of thyme, muddle some in with the ginger liqueur or just bruise a few leaves between your fingers to get that flavor.