Winter is an incredibly productive time to be working in the garden. Even though most of the plants are dormant, there’s plenty of pruning, planting and transplanting to do. Winter is also the perfect time to give all your potted plants the once-over to ensure they’ve got everything they need to put on strong growth come spring time. So, with the cold season almost officially over, I’ve put my skates on and finished up a few more outstanding jobs on my “to do” list.
If you’ve got some outside plants that have been in the same pot for a few years, now is a great time to give them some attention. Over time, your potting mix soil starts to lose it nutrients and can become hard. The plant then has no more nutrients to extract from the soil and the hard soil inhibits root growth as well as water penetration. So, every few years, look at replacing the soil in your pots.
Although re-potting plants can be done at any time, I find the best time to do it is during winter. Most plants are dormant through the cooler weather, the roots are less likely to dry out in the cooler air, and as they’re not actively growing they’re less likely to suffer plant shock.
As a general rule, I like to use a premium quality potting mix, mixed with a little bit of natural fertiliser like well-rotted animal manure (or blood’n’blood or dynamic lifter). It is worth buying the premium mix rather than the cheap potting soil. Your potted plants are totally reliant upon the soil in the pot, so give your plants the best chance of survival and use great soil. It’s also worth giving your plants a good drink of Seasol. This is a plant tonic and helps reduce stress in plants.
The strawberries I have are being re-potted into hanging pots along with some herbs. The reason we’re changing from standard pots to handing pots is to save them from being eaten by Shawn, our lamb (yup, he is still a lamb even at 40kg; little tub-tub). We’re hoping we might get a look in this year and be able to eat a few strawberries ourselves. Fingers crossed.
I started by preparing the hanging pots with premium potting mix and natural fertiliser. I then carefully removed the strawberry plants from their old pots, shaking off any excess dirt. I gave the plants a little tidy-up, removing any dead leaves.
I topped up the pot with fresh soil, finished with straw mulch and give them a good drink of Seasol to settle the roots.
Re-potting a Ficus
Ficus plants are great to have as they’re reasonably hardy and don’t require a lot of effort. I’ve re-potted my ficus into bigger pots about 3 times already, and they’re again ready to be re-potted. However, this was proving to be a challenge as I wasn’t able to find pots in a larger size that I liked, without the outrageously expensive price tag. I definitely didn’t want a big spend on a couple of pots as I’m hoping they’ll be planted out into a new garden in a few years’ time.
So, with that in mind and a handy tip from Em, I decided to prune the root ball instead. By trimming the size of the root ball, it will allow me to replant into the same size pot. The light trim will also give the plant more room to spread its roots into the new soil and keep it happy for another couple of years.
I did have a couple of spare pots in the garden that were about the same size, and these were heavier and more of a square shape which was perfect as we get a lot of strong winds on the farm. We’ve had plenty of pots tip over and we didn’t want these to happen to the large ficus as they’re quite tall and established.
It took a bit of work to get the ficus out of their old pots as they were pretty root bound, but we managed to do it without having to resort to breaking the pot. Just try and be as careful as you can.
When it comes to root pruning, make sure you only trim the thread roots, not the tap roots. The tap roots will be the larger roots and the thread roots will be the small roots that grow off it. Simply gently pry the tap roots apart and lightly trim no more than one-third of the thread roots. You shouldn’t shorten the tap roots at all during this process. Note, most plants will tolerate a light root prune but a few varieties of plants don’t like their roots disturbed, so double check depending on the type of plant you have.
Once I finished trimming the roots, I poured some diluted Seasol over the root ball to help reduce plant shock and keep the plant happy as possible during the transplant. I had the new pots ready to go in the right position, with soil in the bottom and a light sprinkle of natural fertiliser. These pots are quite heavy and when planted with a small tree and soil, it’s quite heavy. So, save your back and make sure you have them positioned in the right spot before you plant up.
I then placed the plant into its new pot and topped with fresh soil, making sure the soil level was the same as it was previously. I then gave the plants another drink of Seasol to help settle the roots and remove any air bubbles.
If your plant has any tired or dead branches, give it a quick trim to tidy it up. Your plant may sulk for a little while, but as long as you keep the roots moist and give it a fortnightly dose of Seasol, it should bounce back and look good as new.
|Spring Cleaning Guide
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