Repotting pot bound plants: It's an easy way of saving your plants.
Updated: Apr 4, 2020
Hello once again. I'm back to share with you how I look after my container plants and one of it is by repotting them and making sure their roots can grow and absorb nutrients from the soil.
When you notice something is wrong with your container plants at home (e.g. yellowing of mature leaves, wilting, stunted growth or just generally unhealthy), the first thing you should do is look at the soil.
Is the soil wet or dry? The soil should not be too dry or too wet. It should have proper drainage so when you water, it flows through. Of course, some species of plants have different preferences, for example, a succulent can tolerate a near drought situation while others prefer a moist soil. It all depends on a lot of factors, so as the plant's parent, you should know your plants.
Next thing to check is the roots. You can do this by holding your plant by the base stem and tip it over. You can see clearly how the roots are. Container plants are prone to root bounding because the roots continuously grows in search for nutrients while in a confined space (the pot).
This is my Jade plant. As you can see nothing is particularly wrong with it. But when you tip it over this is how the roots are.
The roots are tangled in a circle and it literally looked like the pot. This is how a pot bound plant looks like.
I need to repot this because even if there are no symptoms yet, this would cause stunted growth and nutrition imbalance if I left it alone. This succulent is very tough as well, that it can tolerate neglect from its owner.
Even when growing a bonsai, where stunted growth is desired, they still repot every after 3 years or so to promote healthy roots. They might put it in the same sized container to keep the height short but the roots need to be pruned so it will encourage vigorous shoots.
So, when do we repot?
The best time to repot is when plants are dormant before it starts growing again, usually in late winter to early spring.
Now, I will show you how I repotted my jade plant.
First thing to do is to take them out from the pot, then gently tease out the roots. Don't be afraid of breaking some of the roots because it would encourage new growth.
Scrape the top soil as well, so we can put a fresh compost as a top dressing.
Now, prepare your new pot. I would use the terracotta pot on the right side. As you can see, it is not much bigger than the old pot and I prefer this because I am planning to keep my Jade plant around the same height.
I put some fresh compost on the top. I would've preferred a mixture of 1-part compost and 1-part sand but because I ran out of stocks, I just used ordinary compost.
After that, water the plant and put it in the windowsill for some sun.
There are a lot of container plant problems that can be resolved, or in my case avoided by repotting. Make sure you check your container plants for root bound every 2 years and do some root pruning to keep it healthy. Do this, only when the plant is healthy enough to tolerate this because this can be very stressful to some plants.