Repotting and Transplanting

My many years of experience have proven that repotting and transplanting increases health potential and overall plant growth. There is nothing complicated about moving or repotting plants unless they are enormous. A large tree, for example, will require professional help, but the principles are still the same.

Potting Plants
The health of a potted plant will start to deteriorate if it has out-grown its container. Roots trailing from the bottom of the pot, leaf drop, and depleted soil are signs that the plant needs repotting. One or two pot sizes larger will usually be sufficient. Don’t be too eager to repot everything. Some plants (especially ferns) actually prefer slightly cramped conditions and many flowering plants bloom more prolifically if they are a little root-bound.

Before repotting, water the plant well. When the water has drained away, invert the pot, lightly tapping the sides to release the mass of roots. Add Dr. Earth Potting Soil to the new pot, and then insert the plant so that it sits at the same surface level as before. Add Dr. Earth Starter Fertilizer to the potting mix for maximum transplant success. Surround the plant with some more soil mix and firm in. Water the plant well.

Garden Plants
Plants established in the garden may also need moving if they have outgrown their site or are unhappy in a particular position. If possible, try to move them when they are dormant (usually in winter), avoiding extreme weather. If you have to move plants in summer, they will benefit from some temporary shade while they reestablish themselves. Cover the plant with some lightweight fabric and apply Dr. Earth Planting Mix as mulch to protect the roots.

When moving a medium sized tree or shrub, it is best to break-up the project into a few sessions. Water the ground thoroughly, and then loosen the soil in a wide circle around the plant. Leave it for a few days then repeat the process, gradually digging deeper until it is possible to lift out the root mass. Always use a sharp spade, and if roots look ragged or bruised, re-trim them cleanly.

If you have to move a plant some distance to a new site, wrap its root ball in a piece of plastic or burlap. Plants that are difficult to handle can be pruned before transplanting. Prune them back by up to one-third to reduce the shock to their root system. Immediately transfer the plant to its new hole, adding fresh Dr. Earth Planting Mix and Dr. Earth Starter Fertilizer. Firm the soil around the plant and water in well.

If the plant is to have a period in a pot before it is planted, then choose a container only slightly larger than the root ball. Fill any gaps between the roots and the sides of the container with potting soil, then water well, both before and after potting. Only feed if the pot-bound period is to be an extended one.

A certain amount of transplant shock is almost inevitable with a mature specimen. Reactions can vary. The plant may look a bit weedy, or it may drop its leaves. If the latter happens, treat it with consideration, don’t let it dry out or drown. It should recover with time.

Seedlings are easy to transplant, as they haven’t had time to develop an extensive root system. If they have been grown in groups, separate them by gently pulling them apart, or if they have delicate roots, cut them apart with a sharp knife. Make a small hole in the ground, and then position the plants, firming the soil gently around them. Water the seedlings in well and ensure they are kept moist until they become established.

Indoor seedlings may need hardening off before transplanting. Place them in a sheltered place outside for a few hours each day, gradually increasing exposure to full sun and night temperatures over a few weeks.

Seedlings in the garden can be reestablished in a new site that better fits your garden scheme. Dig them out carefully, retaining as much accompanying soil as possible, then plant them as above. Remember to feed every plant that is moved with Dr. Earth® Fertilizer. This will help to reduce transplant shock, increase transplant success, and ensure that your plants are off to a great start.

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