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Indoor Planting Basics

 

Potting an indoor poant for the first time is easy; do it corrently to maintain a healthy plant.

Newly-purchased plants usually come home with you in a temporary plastic pot. If protected from the elements, they can usually sit for a few days without harm to the root system.

Before you begin transferring your plant to its new home, you'll need to have a few items on hand.

-Good potting soil
-A new pot about the size of the original plastic container
-Trowel for adding dirt to the pot
-Stone or broken pottery to cover the drainage holes

Wash the new container with soap and water and rinse. If you are using a clay pot, submerge it in water for a couple of hours. This material is porous and if it is dry, it will draw much-needed water away from the roots of your new plant. If the container is extra large, place it in the bathtub for a soaking. Used containers are fine to use if they are thoroughly cleaned first. Even a solution of bleach/water will help.

Unless you are repotting a plant that is rootbound, select a pot that is about the same size as, or slightly larger than, the original container. If a pot is too large, the roots will be "lost" in too much soil. This can cause health problems such as root rot.

Turn the plant on its side over several sheets of newspaper. Roll the plastic container gently and the plant soil should release. Grip the base of the plant and pull gently. You can also snip the side of the container if the plant is stubbornly embedded. Once the plant is free, do not shake the container dirt away from the root system.

Drainage holes should be covered. Use a layer of larger stones or shards of pottery. Do not use concrete products as they contain lime that can leach into the soil. Make sure the drainage holes are clear, but covered to prevent dirt from filtering through during watering.

Pour soil into the bottom of the pot and fill just enough so the base of the root ball (where the stem begins) will be showing a little above the filled pot. The beginnings of the stem should be about half an inch below the rim.

Place the plant in the container and fill in the sides. Use a trowel to tamp the dirt firmly around the plant, but do not put any pressure on the plant, the stem, or its roots. Add dirt to within ½ inch of the top of the pot, but leave a small portion of the root system near the stem exposed.

Water thoroughly. The potting process is hard on a plant. It may show signs of wilt or other symptoms of the move. Try misting it instead of watering, but don't let the soil become too dry. Do not fertilize right away, unless instructions that come with the plant state otherwise.

Re-potting involves the same process, but the pot should be 1 or 2 inches larger than the original. If a plant has become root bound or has become a slow-grower, it may be time to repot. You don't have to do this every year - that will depend on the plant.

You can remove established plants from their containers by tapping the pot gently in the grass or by running a long knife blade around the inside. You'll know if the plant needs a larger pot after inspecting the root system: if plenty of dirt is still embedded in the roots, the plant is fine; if the ball is mainly roots and very little dirt, then it's time for a bigger and better home.

Plants are such a wonderful addition to a home. Planting them in the proper container and handling them with care is just all you need to make sure they thrive in their new environment.

 

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