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How To: Transplanting your indoor tropical plants

2012 March 9
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Spring is the best time to transplant tropical plants that are in need of an upgrade. The roots will have plenty of time to re-establish themselves before the resting period in the fall. Before transplanting you should find out if your plant needs to be re-potted. See our post on how to know if you need to re-pot. Below is a guide for transplanting your indoor house plants.

Before
Before
After
After
You need to select a pot that is slightly larger than the current one. To large an increase can cause growth problems in your plant. Approx. 1"- 3" is a good size increase. See pot difference in before and after pictures above.
If using a clay or ceramic pot you should put something in the bottom to give more drainage even if the pot has a few drainage holes. If a plastic pot is used there should be adequate drainage already. Suitable materials for the bottom of your pots include: rocks/gravel, old broken pot pieces or charcoal.
You need to remove the plant from its current container. If its in a plastic container you can squeeze the sides to loosen the roots or you may need to run a knife around the rim of the pot. Plastic containers can also be cut off. Flip the container upside down with a hand over the top of the container (try laying larger plants on their side). The plant should come out easily, sometimes a tug is required. The bathtub is a great place for removing bigger plants as mess can be washed away easily. (See Fig. 1)
With the plant out of its container you should remove any dead rotted bits of root away from the plant. Also, gently tease the roots to loosen the outmost ones slightly. This will help the plant establish quicker in its new setting. Sometimes plants are so root-bound that you will be unable to loosen the roots. (See Fig. 2)
Fill the bottom of the new container with a good potting soil and pack down slightly. Place the plant in the new container to check the height. The base of the stem of the plant should be below the rim of the pot. Consider how much water the plant will need when leaving space at the top of the pot. (See Fig. 3 & 4)
Fill in the sides of the pot with a good potting soil and pack down firmly. You want to make sure the plant is snug in the container but you don't want it to compacted. Wipe away excess soil and water thoroughly to soak the soil. You can add a transplant fertilizer if you wish to boost new growth. Continue your regular fertilizer schedule after about 2 weeks.
Let the soil settle after watering. You may need to add some more soil if it has sunk away from the root mass. Leave for a few hours to drain before replacing to its original home. (See Fig. 5)
Figure 1
Fig. 1
Figure 2
Fig. 2
Figure 3
Fig. 3
Figure 4
Fig. 4
Figure 5
Fig. 5

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