the soil regularly helps to keep your plant healthy.
a goldfish in a bowl, a houseplant will only grow as
large as the environment in which it is confined. So
when your prized plants start to lose their vigor and
color, the problem is usually due to growing pains below
Over time, two things
happen to your indoor plants. One is that the soil, or
potting medium, gets "tired" and becomes
devoid of essential nutrients. The second is that a
plant's roots will continue to grow, taking up more and
more space in the pot. As this happens, the plant
This combination of
decomposing potting medium and cramped quarters
inevitably leads to an unhealthy environment. The cure
is usually quite simple: repotting the plant.
Repotting should be done
twice a year, preferably in the late winter and early
spring, and it's best to repot plants only when they are
between flowering cycles.
time, all potting mixes decompose through the work of
bacteria. As a decomposed particle gets smaller in size,
it eventually gets washed out through the drainage holes
in the pot. Smaller particles also settle, limiting the
air space in the root environment. What happens is roots
have more room to grow, but become root-bound in the
small pot. With less potting medium around to hold
water, the roots dry out and the plant begins to wilt.
But possibly the biggest
sign that your plant needs repotting is how much room is
left for new root growth. If the roots are growing out
of the drainage holes or encircling the root ball -- or
if you notice the appearance of brown, unhealthy ones at
the bottom of the root mass -- then it's time to repot.
What's going on above
ground is what's going on below ground. This means if
the plant is getting bigger, then you can safely assume
it's growing just as much below the surface. Pulling
your plant out of the pot every so often is a good way
to check on its needs.
How to Repot
To repot a
plant, select a new container with a diameter at the top
of the rim an inch to 2 inches wider than the original
pot's diameter (a pot too large can lead to over watering).
If the pot has been used
previously, use an anti-bacterial soap to kill harmful
organisms. Clay pots need to be soaked overnight and
then scrubbed to remove the white fertilizer salts
around the insides.
Fill one-third of the new
pot with premium potting soil. Premium products
feature more ready-to-use organic material. Bargain
products end up costing you much more since they contain
little to no nutrients for the plant - and tend to
"clump," making it difficult for roots to
Next, gently shake off
the old potting soil or mix from the root mass (while
you're at it, check for any slugs). Carefully spread the
roots out evenly. Make sure the crown of the roots is ½
to 1 inch below the top of the pot. This allows space
for adding sufficient water, and it eliminates spills.
To finish the repotting
process, fill in around the sides of the root ball with
your potting medium. Gently compress the mix as you fill
in. Then, water the plant thoroughly to ensure that all
areas in the root zone have been moistened. When using a
premium potting medium, the only
maintenance you will need to worry about in the first
month is watering.
It is important to know
that repotting will not necessarily bring an unhealthy
plant back to life. Plants with damaged roots,
fertilizer build-up, diseases, or sunburned leaves may
never return to a healthy state. Furthermore, repotting
a sickly plant may cause more stress and possibly kill
it. It is best to throw out visibly unhealthy plants and
replace them with healthy ones.
Knowing When to Water
that you have your revitalized plant in a place that
allows it to roam more freely, make sure you know when
to water and when not to water.
One way to check is to
press your fingertip into the soil. If your finger feels
wet, you may be over watering the plant. If soil sticks
to your fingertip, the plant is pleasantly satiated. And
if none of the potting mix sticks to your finger, it's
time to water.
Remember, your plants
need care just as we all do. Keeping them well fed and
watered with room for growth is a sure recipe for a
healthy plant life.
Source: HEALTHY INDOOR PLANT: A GUIDE TO SUCCESSFUL INDOOR GARDENING