Successfully Transplant Container Plants

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Just like families all container plants need room to grow and expand. Container plants need room for stems and leaves to capture sunlight and room for roots to absorb nutrients from the soil.

In the case of the Apple Mint purchased near the end of the growing season, it was already root bound and needed to be quickly moved a larger container. Apple Mint-031

This is called transplanting. Transplanting is the most stressful event of the plant’s life.  But, there are ways to minimize this stress. Here’s how to get started.

1. Start With Healthy Plants

Check plants at the nursery for evidence of insect damage, diseased foliage or stunted growth. Avoid plants that have physical damage like nicks, cuts, broken stems, or plants that are spindly and weak. Plants on sale at the end of the growing season may have bound roots. These plants are OK but will need to be promptly transplanted and perhaps lightly pruned.

2. Potting Soil

Apple Mint-032Prepared potting soil for container plants can be purchased ready-to-use out of the bag. Or, mix your own. The traditional mix is: 1-part good garden soil, 1-part sand (river sand or Pearlite) and 2-parts peat moss or nitrogen-stabilized bark.

3. Transplanting

Choose a container that allows at least an inch or two of fresh soil on all sides for root growth.

Fill the new container about halfway with moistened potting soil. Leave a bowl shape at the bottom for the new plant. Apple Mint-033

Remove the plant from the previous container. Place your hand over the top of the container and around the plant stem. Turn the pot upside down and gently tap the rim on a step, or the edge of a workbench to loosen the root ball.

Separate and gently unwind circling roots. If severely root-bound, it may be necessary to cut some stubborn roots. Trim back any dead roots with a trowel, garden shears or a sharp knife.

Apple Mint-034Transfer the plant to the larger container and carefully center the plant. The top of the root ball should be positioned 1-inch from the rim. Fill the new container with potting soil and gently press the soil around the plant and roots to remove any air pockets.

Water the plant thoroughly with a B1 enriched solution to help reduce plant shock.

After transplanting, plants need time to recover and re-establish their root systems. They need regular watering but reduced sunlight. Keep them in the shade for a day or two. Apple Mint-035

4. Handy Transplanting Tips

• Add Vitamin B1 to help prevent shock
• Pre-mix and pre-moisten the new potting soil
• Root bound plants can’t absorb nutrients from the soil
• Loosen and separate the root ball
• Gently press soil around the stem and roots to avoid air pockets
• Water and feed regularly

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