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Marion's UpBeet Gardener
Newsletter has been
replaced by Marion's blog
which you can find at:
Did you know that July 27 is a special day? Mark your calendars: It's
Take Your Houseplant for a Walk Day.
Indoor plants need special attention, just like kids and, dogs. Give them
water, plant food and, the right kind of light and they'll thrive. And,
just like kids outgrow tennis shoes, plants outgrow their pots.
can you tell if a plant is pot-bound?
If your indoor potted plants have any of the following characteristics,
they may be pot-bound. Pot-bound roots have outgrown their container and
are starting to circle around the inside or poke out the drainage holes
in search of more growing room.
drains quickly through soil
To see for yourself, tilt the plant on its side and gently slide the
plant a few inches out of the pot. If the roots look like ropes winding
around in circles or they're matted at the bottom the plant's overdue
for a change. The solution is "stepping up" -- moving the plant
to a larger pot. By stepping up, you fix several problems at once: restricted
root space, replenish tired potting soil and you make the plant look better
in a container more in scale with its larger size.
container is best?
Resist the urge to move a plant to a substantially bigger pot. Select
one a couple of inches bigger. If you use too large a container, the extra
soil will soak up too much water, the plants roots will grow more
than necessary (like moving into a larger house and filling the space
with stuff) and foliage and flower growth will decrease.
Re-Potting, Step By Step (I promise)
1) First you'll need to identify pot-bound plants. Gently roll or tap
the container to loosen the plant and gently ease it out. Tip:
Dry soil tends to hang onto the inner walls of the container, so watering
your plant help grease the skids a little. Catch it in your other hand,
with the foliage peeking between your fingers and the surface of the root
ball supported in your palm. If the plant is a giant one, such as a fern,
fig, or avocado tree, lay it over onto a tarp or newspapers spread on
of bugs buzzing around?
traps provide a safe method for trapping aphids, thrips, fungus
gnats, whiteflies and more. They are Ideal for indoor and outdoor
plants and are one of my must-have garden solutions. (Fortunately,
bugs go for them, too.) You can buy them
through my online catalog. A set includes nine, 3x5-inch sticky
traps, 3 wire holders and complete instructions. $7.00 per set.
To see how effective they are, check
out this photo. (WARNING: Not for the squeamish!)
They are worth every dime, believe me!
2) With your fingers, carefully loosen the roots at the base and along
the sides of the root ball. At this point, many experts say to use a knife
to split the lower third of the root ball to encourage new roots to grow
outward and down, rather than to keep spiraling. I say, put the knife
away and use your fingers. Using a knife to hack and slash at a plant's
root system is overkill. If you find any dead or damaged roots however,
use pruning shears to trim them off.
3) Center the plant in the new, larger container, making sure its
upright. There's nothing like going through the whole process only to
gaze at your plant a month later to see that it's leaning in one direction.
Buy a high quality potting soil and adjust the soil level so the top of
the root ball is about 1/2 inch below the rim of the pot; more for larger
plants. Using your hand, sift new potting soil in around the plant and
firm it with your fingers. Tip: Those flexible cutting boards makes
the job of sifting soil around the plant easier, and cleaner!
Water the plant until water runs out of the drainage holes. This will
help settle the soil and give it good contact with the roots. Add more
soil if necessary.
Re-potting your indoor plants is like sending it to a health spa. It really
improves overall plant health. We tend to ignore indoor plants, treating
them like green statues, until they look so awful there's no way you can
not see them. Take some time this year to make a difference in your houseplant's