Creative outlets in the Kitchen, Garden, Home and On the Road.
Saturday June 24th 2017

Repotting your House Plants

A small 2.5" pot with an overflowing Kalanchoe plant.
A small 2.5" pot with an overflowing Kalanchoe plant.

Today was one of those over hot and humid summer days where you can smell the rain coming for hours and you can’t wait for it to arrive, giving a short break in the heat. I’d needed to pick up some things at a local hardware/home store and found they were having a sale on house plants. This often happens in the summer when peoples views turn to the plants outside, leaving the indoor plants less in focus. I like to keep an eye on these stores to pick up a few houseplants on the cheap!

Once there I waded through the house plants, often selecting the smaller plants (which are sold dollars cheaper) than the larger plants. I also look for plants that are begging to be transplanted/repotted into a larger pot. These overly full pots often hold a plant that is a size closer to the next, more expensive size being sold. Plants in shops are most often sold in price ranges by POT SIZE not plant size. Thus this 2.5″ pot held a plant that was almost the same size as the those being sold in 4″ pots (without the wrapper) for more than double the price.

This Kalanchoe was one of the plants I snapped up. It was stuffed into a TINY 2.5″ pot.

 

Beware the wrappers on these plants.
Beware the wrappers on these plants.

It was wrapped in this brightly colored plastic wrapper. I picked up 2 of these for less than $3 each (including taxes!) I knew I would transplant them both into larger pots. Just as I’d unpacked the car, the rains came…and did they EVER! The perfect timing to spend about an hour and a half transplanting 7 plants into larger posts. Some were plants that I already had at home that had been begging for a larger pot. I’d picked up some additional pots & some potting soil too.

TIP: When you get a plant with a plastic wrapper like this, beware, the plant will drain extra water into this wrapper, which also means it can hold TOO much water. After you water a plant with such a wrapper on it, allow it time to drain, then carefully pour out most of the extra water that collects in the plastic sheath. You can keep some, but unless it’s holding an extreme water loving plant, you may kill the plant by drowning it without realizing.

Repotted Kalanchoe. Now it has room to grow.
Repotted Kalanchoe. Now it has room to grow.

Look how lovely this little Kalanchoe plant looks in this well loved old pot. I transplanted it from a 2.5″ pot into a 4.5″ pot. Those numbers are the diameter across the pot opening.

 

This plant needs a larger pot and room to grow! Transplanting Repotting
This plant needs a larger pot and room to grow!

This poor plant had been begging me for months to give it room to grow! I finally had remembered to pick up a few extra pots while at the home store and was able to move and juggle plants into larger pots, sometimes moving one plant into a larger pot while refilling this pot with another plant.

This plant above, typically called a White Sail Plant (Spathiphyllum Floribundum) was given to me almost a year ago for my birthday. It has been sending up more and more leaves these last few months until it was finally SO FULL that it was wilting every few days as it went though the weekly watering all too fast.

 

A closer view. Can you hear the plant begging for a larger pot?
A closer view. Can you hear the plant begging for a larger pot?

First thing was first. Get it out of that pot that it has well out grown!

TIP: The plastic pot that it was growing in was actually placed within (pot and all) a larger terra cotta pot for show. I’ve received a number of plants put together this way from a local florist. It has the beauty of the terra cotta, but holds the water better due to actually being planted in a plastic pot. Terra Cotta pots evaporate water faster than plastic pots. BEWARE – the terra cotta plates can often leach water into your table top/window sill. I have all of my terra cotta plates also sitting inside a clear plastic tray to save my tables.

How do I know it has REALLY out grown the pot?

 

Cutting the pot off the plant preserving the roots.
Cutting the pot off the plant preserving the roots.

Lifting it out of the terra cotta pot, I found many roots hanging out of the bottom of the pot! I immediately grabbed the strong scissors and began gently cutting. FIrst down the sides, removing large parts of the plastic pot. Next gently cutting smaller pieces of the bottom, saving as many roots as possible.

 

Take your time and cut the pot into as many bitts as needed.
Take your time and cut the pot into as many bitts as needed.

This is what I cut off! Don’t worry about these very cheap pots. Better to save the plant than worry about a pot that would cost very little to replace.

 

The roots are finally free!!
The roots are finally free!!

This is what was inside the pot! Yeowza! It really was screaming! I shook it out a very little, but it really was tightly packed. I chose to let it remain a bit tight as not to break the roots.

Firstly, I poured a large bowl full of soil and added some water to this very dry soil, allowing the soil to absorb some prior to my adding it to the pot. Adding dry soil is not advised as it’s more difficult for water to be absorbed into dry soil packed into a pot. I transplanted it into a pot that was both 4″ deeper and 4″ wider than the pot it had been in.

For the transplant:

  • I held the plant in the new pot with it’s top about an inch below the top of the pot, figuring how much soil I should place in the bottom to begin with.
  • Once enough of the moistened soil was in the bottom to allow the plant to be at the proper height in the pot (about 1″ below the top edge), I gently sat it, centered, into the pot and filled in around it with additional soil.
  • Next I gently pressed the plant and soil to make sure there was enough soil.
  • Water the plant and add more soil in any spots that fell after being watered well.
  • Leave the pot in the sink to drain for a few minutes before putting it on a plant tray/plate.

It’s now back in the dining room happy and growing!

 

White Sail Plant Flower - Mauna Loa - Spathiphyllum Floribundum - Properly repotted!
White Sail Plant Flower - Mauna Loa - Spathiphyllum Floribundum - Properly repotted!

This is a larger example of the same plant that was bursting for a larger pot! This photo shows it after I transplanted into a larger pot.

 

A flowering White Sail plant shows you that it is happy where it is.
A flowering White Sail plant shows you that it is happy where it is.

You know it’s a happy plant when it throws up flowers! These flowers smell like cinnamon when they first open.

If your house plants don’t look happy it could be the amount of water it’s getting (too much? Not enough?)
I water my house plants once a week unless a certain plant needs more or less. I also fertilize them 2x a month, skipping one month (I skip December.)

It could also be the type of light it’s getting (bright light but no sun, too much sun etc.) Don’t hesitate to move your plants around until you find out where it’s the happiest. Also, don’t hesitate to look them up on the internet or in books to learn their recommended light. Can’t decide what kind of plant it is?
Email me
a photo and I’ll do my best to help you out!

Happy planting!!!

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