How Plants Grow

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Soil Fundamentals

A Good Planter

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Plant Fundamentals
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  Re-Potting your Plants.

            Know when to replant your planters.
          Plants grown in planters over a long period of time will produce an expansive root system that exhaust the potting compost of nutrients.  The roots also make it difficult for oxygen to penetrate  the soil as they tend to choke up every pore of the soil.
Regular re-potting supplies fresh nutrients, opens up the soil structure, and so promotes new root growth.

The signs that indicate when plants in planters desperately need re-potting include :

  • Poor growth and yellowed leaves.
  • The plant wilts more quickly than well-potted specimens and needs constant watering.
  • The surface of the potting compost is matted with a web of roots.
  • When lifted out of the planter, root-bound  plants reveal  a solid mass  of roots pressed against the planter
  • Water runs out of the planters drainage hole too quickly. This means that the soil in the planter has become replaced by roots!The roots are growing out of the planters drainage holes.
  • The entire plant is top-heavy. A good rule of thumb is that the distance across the top should be approximately half the height of the plant.
          When repotting arrrange your materials so you can work quickly. Plants can go into shock once
you've removed them from the soil, so make  the transition a speedy one for best results. The first step for re-potting is to prepare your plant's pot. The pot should be one size larger than its current planter, allowing an five centimetres or so for growth at the sides and bottom. Cover the drainage hole with clean rocks, a shard of terra cotta, a coffee filter, or a screen to keep the hole from becoming plugged. Fill the pot with a five centimetres of fresh plant medium.
         To get your plant out of the old planter, ease your trowel around the edge of the planter to loosen the soil. Tip the planter and guide the plant out. If the plant has become root-bound, or its roots are knotted at the bottom, gently break off the knot and loosen the roots with your fingers.
          Now you're ready to re-plant. You can mix dry fertilizer into the planting medium when you plant, but wait a few weeks before adding liquid fertilizer, to avoid risk of root burn. Once your plant is in its new planter, water it thoroughly. Do not water again until the soil is almost dry, to prevent any damaged roots from rotting.
Step 1 
 Large plants in big planters can be extremely  heavy and often reluctant  to come out of their planters.  Tip the planter on its side  so that you do not have  to lift the weight of the compost  and to get a better  grip on the plant.  A stubborn plant  might need  two people. one to hold the planter the other to pull out the plant. If the plant  is stuck, give it a thorough watering  to help release the roots grip  on the side  of the planter, or run a long-bladed  knife around  the  inside  of the planter to free up the root ball.
Large plants in big planters
Step 2
    Once  the rootball is free tease  out the roots from the potting compost  and shake off most  of the old  soil. Loosen  the root ball by rubbing the roots through your finger tips  to separate  out the matted  strands. Use a strong  jet of water from a hose  to wash  out the soil  stuck between  the roots.
Teasing plant roots
Step 3
Up to one third of the roots can  be cut off:  Cut through a few of the thicker roots  and remove whole sections. Keep the finer roots  intact as these  are useful  to help  re-establish the plant.  The soil and grit around  the roots will damage your secateur  blades so use an old  cheap  pair.
Trimming plant roots
Step 4
Replace  the drainage material  in the planters’ base and put a layer of potting  compost  on top. Position  the pared-down root ball  and fill in around it with fresh,  dry compost. Push compost  around  the root ball and then  shake the plant and planter to make  sure that compost settles  in  any  gaps. Do not firm down the compost.  Water thoroughly, and keep the planting out of hot sunshine and drying  winds for several weeks while the roots re-establish themselves.
Replace potting compost in your planter
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