Regional Gardening Reports :: National Gardening Association

In the Garden:
Coastal and Tropical South
September, 2006
Regional Report

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Night-blooming cereus hold their flowers until just after dawn.

Skillful Repotting

Winter and spring are traditional times to repot plants, but there are exceptions to every gardening rule. Anytime a container plant has a problem sustaining itself, it's time to repot, regardless of season. You may see roots growing out the drain hole, or cracking the pot with their heft. Sometimes a plant topples over because the top has outgrown the pot and pruning it is not desirable. If water races right through the container, it's likely the roots have filled the soil space. Such plants may wilt more often, or even stop growing.

Repotting Tips
The goal of repotting is to enable the plant to reestablish its root system in new soil. The first step is to prevent damage to the existing roots. Cracked pots may fall completely apart, but roots may be stuck to the inside of the container whether they've broken it or not. If roots stick to clay pots, use a hammer to lightly tap the pot and loosen the connection. Plastic pots are usually easier to slide off the rootball if you squeeze the container first. Rarely, a plastic pot simply will not come off. In that case, grab the heavy scissors or shears and cut straight down the side, then bend it until the soil lets go.

Specialty Pots
An overgrown pot of strawberry geranium will choke itself as little plants spread across the soil surface and cascade over the pot's edge. Consider a strawberry pot for this plant's new home. Fill these pots and plant as you go up the sides so each little plant has its own spot to start growing. Put one or two of the largest into the top, and water well.

Choose a reservoir pot for large, tree-type plants like schefflera. These containers make it easy to establish a successful watering regime. It's a simple matter to keep water in the reservoir so the plant can take it up. And should the time come when the plant needs repotting, you'll know because the plant will stop taking up water.

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