Tropical Plants and You- Part 4

Repotting and Maintenance

We’ve already discussed adding fresh potting mix regularly, checking for pests/diseases and getting rid of them. The only other maintenance is to remove dead or yellowing leaves, trim back areas that are getting leggy and keeping the pot cleaned.

Soil contains salts that are necessary for plants, but too much can have an adverse effect. I told you they weren’t so different from people. If you see a white residue on the top of the soil or the side of the pot, you have too much salt probably from overwatering or overfeeding. Detoxing plants is easier than with humans. Remove the plant from the pot, clean the pot well and let dry, put plant back in pot and then start leaching the soil. You can add as much water as possible, let it drain for several minutes, repeat, repeat, repeat or you can do a soak/drain cycle repeating several times. As long as there is drainage, you won’t be overwatering. Put back in pot and add a little potting mix if needed. If it’s really bad, it’s easier to just repot the plant. 

If you have health problems with your plant – pests, diseases, really nasty water from overwatering, salt, etc. it might be best to just repot and get a fresh start. Remove the plant from the pot, break away the soil, wash the roots (use soapy water if pests, disease then rinse well) and set it aside while you prepare your pot. Put some potting mix in the bottom, add the plant and fill with the remaining potting mix pressing it down enough to hold the plant upright. Your pot does have drainage right? If not, get another pot. Water thoroughly and you’re done.

If you are repotting because your plant is rootbound you basically do the same thing with a bigger pot, but you don’t have to discard the old potting mix. Just put some potting mix in the bottom, add the plant and add extra potting mix. Viola! But, if you do this, you know your plant will get bigger right?

If you don’t want the plant taking over your home but it’s so root bound there is no room for soil, you can just remove from the pot, trim off a couple of inches of the bottom roots, put potting mix in pot and replace the plant. Add a little more potting mix, water and your plant will stay about the same size but be nice and healthy.

That’s it, you are now a tropical houseplant expert!