In the course of a week or two, if a plant is knocked out, the small
white roots may be seen coming through the ball of earth and beginning
to curl around the outside of it. The time for repotting the young
will have been reached when these roots have made a thick network
around the ball of earth, but before they become brown and woody; that
is, while they are still white and succulent--"working roots," as the
florists term them.
The shift, as a general rule, should be to a pot only one size larger,
that is, from a three to a four, or a four to a five.
Remove the plant from the old pot by holding the stem of the plant
between the index and middle finger of the left hand, and with the right
inverting the pot and rapping the edge of the rim sharply against the
edge of the bench or table.
Before putting the plant into the new pot, remove the top half inch of
soil and gently loosen up the lower half of the ball of roots, if it is
Put soil in the bottom of the pot to such a depth that when the ball of
roots is covered with half an inch or so of new soil, the surface
thereof will still be about half an inch below the rim of the pot. Hold
the plant in place with the left hand, and with the right fill in around
it, making the soil firm as before. Water and care is the same as after
the first potting.
Pots four inches or over in size should be crocked to make certain of
sufficient drainage. The best material to use is broken charcoal, in
pieces one-half to an inch in diameter. Pieces of broken pots, cinders
or rough pebbles will do. Be sure that the drainage hole is not covered;
if pieces of pots are used, put the concave side down over the hole, as
illustrated facing page 41. The depth of the drainage material, or
crocking, will be from half an inch to three inches, according to the
size of the pot. Over this rough material put a little screenings, leaf
mould or sphagnum moss, to prevent the soil's washing down into it. Then
fill in with soil and pot in the regular way.
The time for repotting house plants is at the beginning of their growing
season. It varies, of course, with the different kinds. The great
majority, however, start into new growth in the spring and should be
repotted from the middle of March to the middle of May. Plants kept
through the winter for stock plants are usually started up and repotted
early in February to induce the abundant new growth that furnishes
cuttings. The method of repotting will depend on the nature of the
plant. Soft-wooded plants, like geraniums, are put in in the ordinary
way and firmed with the fingers. The palms do best with the new soil
more firmly packed about the old ball of roots. Hard-wooded plants with
very fine roots, like the azaleas, should have the soil rammed down
firmly about the old ball; for which purpose it is necessary to use a
blunt, flat piece of wood, of convenient size. In repotting such
plants, it is well to let the ball of roots soak several minutes in a
pail of water before putting into the new pot. If very densely matted,
make several holes in it with a spike, working it around, and leave the
soil a little lower at the center of the pot to induce the water to run
down through the root ball.
Plants that have been crocked in the old pots should have this material
removed, if possible, before going into their new quarters.
Plants in large pots often use up all the plant food available, and
where they cannot be given still larger pots become quite a problem.
They are usually handsome specimens which one does not like to lose.
Remove such a plant from its pot and carefully wash all the soil from
the roots; clean the pot and carefully repot in fresh soil in the same
pot. The result will be extremely satisfactory.
Until one has become proficient in the art of potting, it will pay well
to practice with every plant and cutting that may be had. If you have
mistakes to make, make them with these, so that your favorite plants may
be handled safely.
Next: Management Of House Plants
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