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Houseplants: repotting

All plants eventually need to be repotted or transplanted, so avoid purchasing pot-bound plants that have roots twining about in the container. Before purchasing any plant, remove the container and examine the roots. Repeat this procedure periodically over the life of your plants, because once a plant is pot-bound, its growth may be restricted.

When you purchase a plant, also purchase a container that is slightly larger than the one the plant comes in. If the new pot is more than two inches in diameter larger than the previous pot, the plant will not respond well and the potential for root rot may occur. When using an existing pot, clean it out by applying a solution made from 20-percent bleach mixed with water. Then rinse thoroughly with plain water. You can also wash plant containers in the dishwasher. It's important to clean containers thoroughly to avoid transferring pathogens and insects.

When repotting plants, place potting soil in the bottom of the container. If the drainage hole is large, place a clean, broken, curved shard of another pot, curved side up, over the hole. This promotes drainage and reduces the loss of potting soil through the hole. Don't leave roots exposed to air during the transplanting process. Instead, place the plant in the pot and fill in the sides with new potting soil.

Roots can be teased or pulled out to induce new root growth, but don't leave any gaps of air in the new potting soil area because it may lead to tissue death. Also, take extra care to avoid over-watering your plant until it has regained its vigor, and hold back on fertilizer for two to four weeks after transplanting.


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Updated Tuesday, July 22, 2014