- 1. Choosing the right substrate
- 2. The ideal repot date
- 3. Preparation and stuffing
- 4. Cutting
- 5. Create drainage
- 6. Repot green and flowering plants
- 7. Repot cacti
- 8. Further care
- 9. Switch to hydroponics
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In order for indoor plants to stay healthy and grow for a long time, you need to repot them from time to time. We will explain to you in nine basic steps how best to proceed - for wonderfully green and lush flowering plants.
1. Choosing the right substrate
The plant gets its nutrients from the substrate. It also serves to hold their roots and should be such that they are always surrounded by a slight moisture. At the same time, however, enough air must get in, otherwise it will rot. This means that a good substrate stores moisture and is permeable to air at the same time. You can mix this potting soil yourself according to the recipe or use ready-made soil from specialist shops. Many indoor plants grow optimally in special soils tailored to their needs. Only use high-quality substrates for your plants. In the case of cheap offers from the discounter, points as relevant to plant health as
- water storage capacity
- air permeability
- nutrient content
- PH value
- hygienic condition
- and humus content
Substrates suitable for indoor plants include these:
- potting soil: traditionally consists of peat, clay and nutrients. Most plants grow very well here, which you will notice after transplanting in the rapid root penetration and new shoots.
- unit earth: is of consistently good quality and consists of 60% white peat and 40% loam or clay. Type P is only slightly fertilized (suitable for weakly consuming plants), type T more.
- Special soils for cacti, azaleas or palm trees: are perfectly tailored to the special needs of these plant groups
- expanded clay: The water-absorbent expanded clay balls give the roots support. The plants draw their nutrition from the water and the added nutrient solution.
- Epiphyte substrate: suitable for tree dwellers and aerial roots such as ferns, bromeliads or orchids.
Tip: Our peatlands are being rapidly depleted, with unique ecosystems being irretrievably lost. You should therefore replace soil containing peat with alternative substrates, for example clay granules. Sphagnum, osmunda and tree fern are also protected and may not be taken from nature. Good alternatives are rock wool or bark, and styrofoam chips are also suitable (even if they themselves are not particularly environmentally friendly).
2. The ideal repot date
Houseplants should usually be replanted about every two to three years, and some fast-growing species at a young age also annually. You can tell when it's time to repot the plant by these signs:
- Earth is almost completely rooted
- Earth smells musty
- Plant is root diseased or has pests in the substrate (sorry gnats, mealybugs)
- Roots grow out of the pot
- Plant has already cracked the pot
The ideal repotting date for most plants is spring between late February and early to mid-April. Otherwise, the following applies: Always repot plants after flowering. The new vessel should be two centimeters larger than the old one all around.
3. Preparation and stuffing
A few hours before transplanting, you should water the plant vigorously, this will make it easier for you to unpot. This step is particularly important with clay pots, as the substrate will adhere to the coarse material. When potting up the plant, proceed as follows:
- remove old pot
- tap the pot all around on the edge of the table
- this will loosen the substrate from the edge of the pot
- Smash the pot if it is very tight
- Cut the plastic pot open if necessary
- crumbling top layer of earth
- Carefully loosen the root felt with chopsticks
Be careful not to damage the roots as much as possible.
Root trimming is only necessary when the roots are brown-black and rotten. Even with very old houseplants that you no longer want to put in larger pots, it can make sense to cut back the root system. Then, however, you must also take back the parts of the plant that are above ground in order to maintain the balance. It is also advisable to cut back the shoots if older plants threaten to become bare. This is necessary, for example, with the popular birch fig (Ficus benjamina), but also with window leaf (Monstera) and other tall indoor plants. Proceed as follows when cutting:
- The cutting point runs about half a centimeter above a bud.
- Don't cut the shoot tips, just clip them out.
- Do this especially with young plants so that they branch out better.
- Cut back older plants more vigorously, up to two-thirds if necessary.
- Recommended for strong growth, bare leaves or shoots that are too long with wide spacing between the leaves.
- For very bushy houseplants, remove one of two branches that are close together.
- Powder interfaces with charcoal to protect against pathogens.
Caution: Not all indoor plants tolerate pruning!
5. Create drainage
Very few indoor plants tolerate waterlogging, which is why drainage in the pot is so important to prevent it. To do this, place a shard of clay on the drainage hole of the new planter (to prevent it from clogging up) and then fill in a layer of expanded clay, clay granules or gravel about a finger thick. In large pots or tubs, this drainage layer can be a good five to ten centimeters thick. Then pot the plant, how best to do it, we will explain in the next two sections. Then water them vigorously and place them in a bright and foot-warm location. Soil warmth promotes the formation of new roots.
6. Repot green and flowering plants
When transplanting leafy and flowering plants, proceed as follows:
- Hold your palm on the potting soil, turn the pot over
- Carefully remove the root ball
- Loosen up root thatch
- crumble off soil that is not rooted
- Cut off diseased roots, shorten too long
- Pour the drainage into the new pot as described
- then fill in some substrate
- Insert the plant in the middle at the same height as before
- hold on to it
- Fill in the soil and press down firmly
Form a watering rim about one centimeter deep, which will make it easier for you to water your houseplants later.
Tip: Orchids and other epiphytic plants do not necessarily have to be planted in soil. You can also tie them to a piece of bark, simulating natural living conditions. To do this, wrap the aerial roots all around with plant material and tie the plant firmly to the wood with cut up women's stockings.
7. Repot cacti
Many types of cacti are difficult to repot because of their hard thorns. The best way to do this is as follows:
- Carefully lift the cactus out of the pot using pieces of polystyrene to protect it.
- Loosen the root ball with chopsticks.
- Remove diseased and dried roots.
- Drain the bottom of the pot as previously described.
- Place the cactus in the pot at the same level as before.
- Fill in the substrate and press down.
Then water the plant well, this promotes the formation of new roots.
8. Further care
After repotting, water the plants just enough to keep the soil from drying out. Only when new shoots appear should you take care of the plants according to their individual requirements. This is important to prevent waterlogging and subsequent root rot. You also refrain from fertilizing for the time being, since most plant substrates for indoor plants are pre-fertilized anyway. Only six to eight weeks after transplanting does it have to be fertilized again for the first time.
Tip: Renewing the top layer of soil is recommended for large indoor plants that you no longer want to repot due to lack of space and for plants that are sensitive to such a measure. Palm trees, for example, often do not tolerate transplanting very well.
9. Switch to hydroponics
You can use a necessary repotting to convert your plants to hydroponics. This requires a very careful washing out of the root system, since no soil residues must remain. For hydroponics there are special planters and substrates based on expanded clay on the market. These are clay granules, which are available in different sizes for different plant groups. Expanded clay stores water, allows sufficient air to reach the roots, gives them support and is also structurally stable, which means the material does not rot.
Hydroponics is ideal for those who frequently over- or under-water. The clay chunks absorb water like a sponge, but only release it gradually according to the needs of the plant. For the conversion you need a basket pot (usually made of plastic, available in specialist shops) and a suitable planter. And this is how you do it:
- Rinse the soil out of the root ball.
- Shorten roots that are too long, cut away brown (rotten) ones
- Put the plant on washed expanded clay
- Fill the plant basket with expanded clay
- Place the basket pot in the cachepot
- show lukewarm water
A special hydro indicator helps you to find the right amount when watering. Clay granules usually do not need to be replaced. However, it may be necessary to clean it from time to time - for example, because lime deposits are deposited on it as a result of the watering. Repotting from clay granules to new ones is not stressful for the plant because the root ball remains completely intact and is only embedded in the new substrate.