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The Basics: Repotting into a Larger Container

April 4, 2012

Supplies:  Existing potted plant, larger container, potting mix, broken potsherds or packing peanuts, trowel, blunt knife or hand weeder, snips, water

1.  Select a new or repurposed container one – two sizes larger than the existing one.

2.  Tilt the container and carefully pull the plant out of the pot by grasping the trunk just above the top soil. If the plant doesn’t move, slide a blunt knife down the sides to loosen the roots and try again. When necessary, as seen in photo to the left, break the pot by likely tapping it with a hammer. Be sure to wear protective glasses. Slice plastic containers open with a knife.

Tip:  Repot when the plant’s soil is on the dry side (slightly moist). The plant will be lighter and easier to lift out of its container. Never repot saturated plants, as the roots will separate from the soil.

3.  Carefully loosen the roots with a blunt knife or hand weeder. Trim off broken roots and cut back extra long roots by a third.

4.  Cover the drainage hole with broken potsherds or packing peanuts.

Tip:  1) If reusing an old container, scrub the inside with detergent or four parts water to one-part bleach to kill harmful organisms. Rinse well. 2) If your container doesn’t have a hole, drill one hole in small to medium containers and two holes for very large pots.

5.  Place fresh potting mix about a third up in the new container. Check the height by gently positioning the plant on the mix. The crown of the plant should be one to two inches below the top of the pot. This will allow space for watering and eliminate overflow.

Tip:  To absorb excess water and gradually release moisture to the roots use moisture control potting mix.

6.  Once you have established the proper height, center the plant spreading out the roots.

7.  Add fresh potting mix around the sides, gently working it down with a trowel or hand weeder making sure there are no air pockets. If your container is tall, use a thin stick or heavy-duty non-bendable wire. Be careful not to compact the mix.

8.  Set container on risers and water well. Keep out of hot summer sun for at least a week until the plant(s) can recoup from transplant shock.

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3 comments

  1. I must be having busy days, as I missed this posting! And, I needed to know these tips on re-potting.

    Whenever I’ve re-potted rootbound (mostly palms), I’ve never done it ‘dry’; I always have removed the original container, and soaked the plant and rootbound in a big bucket of water, then transplanted.

    Now I know the proper way to do this. I guess I’ve been lucky though, as i haven’t lost any re-pottings doing it this way.

    Thanks for the information Dianne.

    Like


    • You don’t want to transplant when the soil is ‘dry’ and the plant is stressed from lack of water, but when it is on the ‘dry side’(as stated)—in other words, slightly moist. I hope this is clearer. I’ll add this to the article.

      Like


  2. Thanks for the clarification, but I must admit, I’ve re-potted saturated plants once or twice, and you are right, the roots do separate from the soil. I’ll do better next time, following your instructions.

    Like



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