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Should You Repot Houseplants? Why

People seem to love the idea of stepping up or repotting houseplants. Some people even downsize their plants. I guess it is just the idea of repotting plants makes people think things are going to grow like crazy.

Let me give you a word of advice, and if you follow it, your plants will probably do well.

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GROW GOOD ROOTS and the foliage will follow;

Many people think that plants are going to do better just by repotting them. In the process of maintaining your plants indoors, most of them like to be on a schedule. Introducing new pots, new pot soil, and disturbing the root system may cause the plant to “react”. This reaction could be in the form of dropping leaves, drooping or wilting leaves, brown tips, or the plant might just grow nuts.

Most of the plants used indoors will be able to grow for a long period of time in the containers they are purchased in.

Probably the best time to repot a plant is as soon as you get it. When you’ve purchased plants from your local nursery or garden center it is quite possible and very likely that the plants have traveled hundreds or even thousands of miles. The plant will be going through a recovery period and an acclimation period. Why let the plant re-acclimate twice?

Let me take you through a brief trip of the plant as it makes its way to your home. Stay with me on this…

  • An order is received at the nursery and it is pulled from the growing area and placed on trailers or conveyors.
  • Plants are groomed and then placed in a sleeve or box.
  • Plants are then reloaded onto trailers waiting for the trucker to pick them up.
  • The shipment is loaded onto trucks.
  • The trucking company usually strips the truck of all plants and then reloads it by their drop off points.
  • Trucker delivers to the nursery or garden center.
  • Plants are unboxed or unsleeved.
  • Garden Center then puts the plants out for sale.
  • You purchase the plant, load it up, and transport it home.

I said all of that to make a point.

You can look up in a 10th-grade botany book, or you can look at the roots of most tropicals, and find tiny root hairs. The root hairs are the things that make the plant flourish. The tiny hairs help absorb the nutrients and moisture for the plant.

Think about this for a moment.
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If someone dropped you on your head from 2 feet in the air, would it hurt? Now look at what happens to the root hairs from being in transit. They can become damaged, pulled off, and dried out. The root ball hairs need to be regrown.

Now let’s look at the soil for a moment. The plant is growing indoors fine. It is on a regular schedule of once a week or every other week watering.

Unless the plant needs watering more than once a week, generally there is no need to repot.

It is decided that the houseplant must be repotted. It is planted into another pot, watered really well, with no roots to get rid of the water. Now it is time for you to figure out a new schedule for watering. Avoid giving an excessive amount of water to prevent root rot.

In the nursery, this isn’t a problem, because the potted plant is working hard with plenty of direct sunlight to produce food and grow into its new shoes. Indoors, the plant’s metabolism is greatly reduced and will not be growing actively as much.

Don’t (replant or step up) your indoor plant just because it may look better. If you plan on stepping up your plant into a new container, follow these guidelines:

  • Does the plant really need it?
  • Is the plant easy to maintain or has good endurance?
  • Make sure the plant has a good root system.
  • Move up to the next size pot size, 6″ to 8″, 8″-10″, 10-12″ and so on.
  • Clay pot or plastic pots with drainage holes.
  • Use a good, well-drained soil mix for tropicals.  (Ask your garden center for the best pot mix)

And remember when you’re shopping for plants make sure that they have a good root system, BECAUSE IF YOU GROW GOOD ROOTS the foliage will follow.

Image: source