Let’s Have a Repotting Party!
We’re no strangers to sharing repotting advice with folks here at Vault + Vine. If you’re a great plant parent, your plants will grow and with growth comes the need for new containers. Many folks get nervous when it comes time to repot but the truth is that plants are resilient and repotting is generally a pretty easy task.
It might only be August, but now is when we think about how to best prepare our plants for WINTER. These tropical beasts are not made for Philly winters, so the colder months are for dormancy and rest. We strongly encourage folks NOT to repot in winter– if you think your friend may need a new home, now is the time to repot!
We noticed one of our Swiss Cheese monsteras was wilting quickly and not retaining water in its soil– a tell tale sign that repotting is needed. We’ve detailed the process below, with plenty of tips and tricks for how to make rehoming your plant as painless as possible.
Here’s our Swiss Cheese, as we found it. You’ll notice dead leaves, yellowing leaves and a lot of roots visible on the top of the soil. The plant has eaten up most of the nutrients in the soil and it’s roots are growing out of the pot— meaning that not only is our soil draining too quickly, it’s not got enough nutrients to sustain the plant. A repot will solve all of this plant’s issues, so that is what we did for it!
The plant came out of it’s old pot pretty easily and WOW— look at those roots. There’s more root than soil at this point. If you look at the roots at the bottom of the pot, they are circled around the base and each other, looking for somewhere to go. The plant is begging for more space!
When it comes to picking out a pot, you want to make sure you’re giving your plant enough space to stretch out and grow, but not so much space that the new planter is too large. It may seem like a good idea to give lots of space to grow when going through the trouble of repotting, however it leads to overwatered soil and underwatered roots. If the roots aren’t comfortably filling out the pot, your plant will likely not get enough water.
This plant was potted in an 8 inch pot— we’re going to size it up to a 10 inch pot, pictured above. The general rule of thumb is that the larger your plant is, the larger you want to size up! Pots under 3 inches will likely only need to go up to a container less than an inch larger. Pots from 4 inches to 7 inches can be moved up to a pot an inch bigger, and if it’s 8 inches or larger, you can put it in a pot about 2-3 inches larger. This is not a hard and fast rule— just what we’ve had the best luck with in our shop. Some plants like to be more cozy in their pot, too, but that’s a subject for another post!
The next step is going to be to clean as MUCH soil as we can off of the roots. You will want to either do this outside or on top of a trash can or compost bin because this step can get MESSY.
This part can be daunting for folks, and does require a certain amount of care, but roots are resilient and it’s ok if you knock them around a bit. The roots at the bottom that have wrapped around each other are younger and less vital to the plant than the roots up top— which are more established and more valuable. Keep this in mind as you clean them, and if you’re unsure, it’s ok to keep a little dirt in there. Think of this step like brushing out tangled hair— you can be firm, but yanking might make your child unhappy!
Here she is with naked roots! As you can see, there’s still a bit of dirt up top. And that’s OK! We’ve cleared up a bunch of the old soil out and we’re going to put this plant in fresh DIRT.
We use Organic Mechanic soil here at the shop— it’s a nutrient rich soil blend made right here in PA. We love good dirt and Organic Mechanics is top tier.
We repot by putting a thin layer of soil on the bottom of the pot and gently resting the roots on top of it. Less is more here– when repotting, it’ important to make sure as many roots as possible are facing downward. They want to grow downward once in their new home, so it’s good to guide them in the right direction. If you put too much soil in before placing the roots, they will get pushed around. We are going to build the soil around the roots instead.
When repotting, you are going to want to gently but firmly place soil around the loose roots, particularly along the sides of the new pot. Soil should not be packed in too tightly, don’t tamp it down. Just let it fill itself in while gently guiding it.
We keep the plant about an inch or so below the top of the pot, to avoid overfilling the soil and because, aesthetically, we think it looks great!
Here is our plant in it’s brand new pot! We trimmed off all the dead and yellowing leaves so our plant could focus it’s energy on growing new, healthy leaves. With brand new tasty dirt, this plant is sure to keep producing throughout the fall– and it has lots of good nutrients by its side to get it through winter.
If you’re still not sure about repotting yourself and would prefer the help of an expert, we do offer repotting services here in the shop. Get in touch if you need our help!