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Repotting







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 plants 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 firmly matted. 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

Previous: Potting



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