5 Essential Steps For Potting Plants

Dr. Michelle Deering

To pot or not to pot? Is that really the question?

Whether ‘twas nobler for the life of my plant to suffer my constant watering or take refuge in my trashcan, I cannot say.

But, what I can say that I don’t claim to have a green thumb. Yet somehow, plants just seem to grow around me. It must be my carbon dioxide output when I “talk” to them.

Still, given that Spring is officially in the air and our neighborhood is still social-distancing, I’ve wanted to share about my recent plant experience. This will be a 2-Part blog.

Today, in Part 1, I will describe what I learned from my daughter, not Shakespeare. Next week, I’ll share what I learned from my plant about motherhood.

 

Shakespeare Needed A Lowes…& My Daughter

So, when I learned that my husband and my “green-thumbed” daughter Candace were going to the local Lowes hardware story, I asked her for advice on the status of one of my personal indoor plants.

My plant was a $5.00 plant I’d picked up at Walmart back in 2018. It was now visibly bigger but still in the same pot.

Candace took one look at my plant and sighed, “Oh no! This (plant) definitely needs a new pot.”

Then she proceeded to tell me that since some of the foliage was starting to turn yellow,that meant that the roots were likely not getting enough room to spread out.

Green plant leaves turn yellow

 when their roots don’t have enough room.

I asked Candace if she could find the next-sized pot for my plant.

After their trip to Lowes, Candace showed me both the new soil and the very large pot with appropriate drainage that she’d gotten for my plant.

Candace then described to me the steps that I needed to take in order to transfer my plant to the bigger pot.

Prep The New Pot

First, I needed to add new soil into half of the new pot. This would mean that I needed to know what kind of plant I had and then determine what kind of soil had the proper nutrients in it to help the plant grow.

Additionally, this first addition of soil needs to not totally fill up the new pot.

Second, I needed to dig a hole in the new soil into which my growing plant could be placed. The hole is not to be too deep or too shallow. It needs to just enough so that when my plant is placed in it, then its topsoil is still visible.

Remove The Old Plant

The third thing to do is: remove my growing plant from its old pot. This is the part when I needed to ask Candace for help. (Wait! I’m a mom. I can do everything…right? Hmmm.)

At first, we couldn’t yank my plant out smoothly. So, I cut down the side of the green plastic pot.

When Candace and I pulled my plant out of its (old) pot, we gasped! The were roots hanging out everywhere; so much so that we could barely see the (old) soil itself.

This made the task of transferring my plant extremely difficult. Why?

Because the roots were so smashed and entangled not only in the soil but also around the structures of the pot itself.

This meant that we had to try the fourth thing which was: we needed to do was to remove plant without totally damaging the roots.

Entangled overgrown roots

make it hard for plants to absorb water.

The entangled state of the roots is what makes it difficult for the plant to receive all the water I was giving it during the time I’d had it.

Spread The Roots

My plant was definitely overdue for repotting—being put into new soil in a BIGGER more spacious potted area. It was a matter of life or (slow) death.

My plant’s roots needed to spread to new territory; more space to grow, not more water.

The new space would allow the roots to grow deeper and wider in its reach. And with that depth and width, it would get taller and greener (in its “leaf”—life—expression).

So, in order to facilitate my plant’s living fully in its next phase of growth, I would need to do the fifth step: fan out the entangled roots.

Talk about messssyyyy…and painstaking. All those roots! I soon became concerned that I might accidentally cut off an important root connection in the process.

Plant Your Plant

The sixth step of the process is to: Put the plant into the new soil.

The hope here is that, during the earlier steps, I had adequately (not perfectly) prepared the new soil.

This preparation involves digging a small hole in which to place newly-fanned out root system of my plant so that it can “take tiny steps” first before spreading full out into the new soil.

The seventh part of the plant transfer involves: pouring more of the new soil over the plant bed to cover over the fanned-out roots and the (old) soil that still remains at the core of the root system.

This covering will:

  • keep my newly potted plant’s roots nourished and
  • keep it more securely anchored into the new soil long enough for its new growth to “take root. (I couldn’t help that pun !)

Water Away! …But Not Too Much

Lastly, the eighth step of the process is to: water the plant thoroughly. Yup! Now is the time to douse it with water.

I’d actually mistakenly over-watered my newly re-potted plant the first time in its new larger pot. I was very grateful, though, that the new pot not only had holes at the bottom, but also had a catch-tray.

The catch-tray

  • caught the excess water and
  • served as a warning mechanism for me to know that I’d over-watered it.

Without that bottom catch-tray, the excess water would have settled, grown stagnant, and become the breeding ground for harmful bacteria and mold harmful to my plant.

In Summary:

When engaging in the process of transferring a potted plant, it’s important to:

  • Prep the pot.
  • Remove the old plant.
  • Spread the roots.
  • Plant your plant.
  • Water away.

 

Next week, I’ll have Part 2 of this series!


Would you like some good reading material to give you some perspective on your motherhood? Then download your FREE CHAPTER from my best-selling book, What Mothers Never Tell Their Daughters. Download it HERE!

 

©Dr. Michelle Deering

 

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