How to transplant mums?

When to Transplant Established Mums

Hello, Houzz user. You did not say if these were planted this year or are well established, if there are watering or wilting issues so, I am assuming they are new shrubs. Sunlight: I would aim for sun in the morning hours only; shade in the afternoon and in the evening hours. Or dappled sun. The further you stay away from direct 12pm sun, the better. It is too strong, makes you water a lot and the temps get too hot for these guys. I aim for shade starting at 11am, as best as I can though. I even have few in full but bright shade. A few hours of early morning sun does not impact bloomage much. Light summer winds can make those large leaves loose moisture slowly and steadily in the summer. If I have a windy location, I look for an alternative location before planting them there. Remember…. we are windier than Chicago. If the plants were in obvious distress now, I would transfer them into pots, keep them in pots until they go dormant in December and then plant them somewhere where they get less sun.The reason? I never plant or transplant anything here after mid May. Hydrangeas begin to suffer from wilting episodes and watering issues as temperatures top 85F and mid-May is about the time when we hit the 90s. Observations: The leaves appear to be in "ok" shape. Meaning they are dark green and with no signs of browning from the edges inwards. That browning happens when they do not get enough water for a long enough time. I do not see signs of iron chlorosis (the leaves turn light green or yellow with the leaf veins remaining dark green). I see no signs of wilted leaves, although who knows… you may be having to water them every 5 minutes during the day or faster ;o) If you have been watering a lot to maintain this look, then I would consider them stressed enough to move. Specially if wilting is making you are water daily…. or more often. The shrub in the middle has some leaves that appear to have some browning. Could be lack of water or too much sun. It was not clear. I see evidence of soil recently watered in the picture so I thought I would digress and tell you what I do watering wise. Use organic mulch 2-4" past the drip line. The mulch does not have to be acidic as acidic mulch will not help that much. I use hardwood mulch or hay or organic compost in some years. Tried pine needles too but those were a slight pain so I went back to the other stuff. No rocks as mulch ever.Use either garden sulfur, aluminum sulfate or greensand to acidify the soil. Or use liquid iron-chelated compounds sold at most plant nurseries. The liquids correct iron chlorosis faster than solids but they do not last as long. Then I use either a moisture meter or the finger method to determine if I need to water them. I give mine 1 gallon of water in the Spring (per plant per watering) and increase that to 1.5 gallons in mid-May. I go down back to 1 gallon when temperatures moderate in September. When we hit the daily 100s or so, I may water using the hose at certain times too. Most of mine have drip irrigation but a few get water from the regular sprinkler. The drip does not do a perfect job though when temps are regularly in the 100s so I hand water sometimes when it is supposed to go "off". Wilting episodes indicate that the plant is loosing moisture thru the leaves much faster than it can absorb water thru the roots. So blooms and-or leaves wilt. These episodes are common on the first year, when the shrubs have a tiny root system that cut to fit into the 1 or 3 gallon pots. After mid-May, I check these guys in the mornings. A hydrangea should fix the wilting episode on its own provided that its soil has enough water. If it shows up wilted during my morning inspection then I hand water them. I always water early in the morning and only the soil -never the leaves-. Water from the root ball outwards. The only exception to those suggestions: if I see a wilting episode that seems extreme, I immediately water and maybe check for things like the sprinkler system was not turned on, etc. In future years, as the plants’ root system gets larger and the plants become established, wilting episodes will diminish but happen in very hot, very dry or windy conditions so consider if you want to water the day before the weather service says it will be hot or very windy. Observations continued: The blooms in the picture look old/spent or suffering from heat stress. Hard to tell with some Blushing Bride blooms as they are not exactly white. But down here, blooms should open quite early, last several weeks/month-ish and by now, they should start color changing, adding greens, pinks, sandy colors and then browns. If purchased this year, they may have been forced to bloom early so it may be ok for them to turn brown early. But if the color progression skips all or most of the greens/pinks and goes directly to pinnk then the plant decided to zap them. Either due to heat stress or lack of water or lack of enough water. I did not see dried out stems (with no leaves), which is good as it means they are not getting periods of dry soil, then they get water but then the soil dries again and so forth. Uniformly moist soil -as best as you can- is what they like in their natural tropics. A colored or white bloom that is under stress may eventually get zapped/killed if it regularly does not get water… or enough water. If not getting enough water on one day, they can wilt. Mophead blooms may end looking like they weigh a ton and be pointing down almost. If I cannot perk them up with water, I may deadhead: cut the petiole string that connects the bloom to the stem. Do not cut the end of the stems though; they will produce invisible flower buds for Spring in mid July or so. Hydrangea flower buds and flower blooms are the first things to get zapped by the shrub when there is not enough soil moisture or when it is too hot. Normally, a bloom goes thru a plethora of color changes or splotches that end in brown. For example, the bloom starts pink then gets green spots and-or pink spots and finally ends brown. If it is too hot or they cannot get water or they cannot get water fast enough, the plant eventually shuts them down and a white bloom can go from white to brown. Good news… while the picture was not clear enough, I did not see browning of blooms. A little pink in a few white blooms. And on the upper left hand corner, those old blooms started the color change to green. Transplanting: So, based on those observations and assuming watering is not an issue and wilting is not an issue, you could try keeping them where they are, but add some artificial shade and move them when they go dormant in the December. You can put outside chairs on top of them to provide extra shade… or use umbrellas, or just about anything that you can think of. Some stores (Northaven Gardens; exit Forest Lane on US75) sell shade cloth. You can also use that; I use something similar in some areas of the garden. I try to plant them in the east/north side of trees (Live Oaks, Crape Myrtles, etc) or other things (the house, etc). Here is the "but" section….. If the plants become distressed, consider instead pulling them out, putting them in pots/containers, keeping them there until December and planting them at that time. While waiting for December, review where else in the garden to place them. Now is not a good time to be planting/transplanting hydrangeas, camellias or azaleas. The transplant shock and our summer conditions are a pain to them and on us as we end up having to check them often and watering them often. But temporarily potting them is ok. Sorry, this is way longer than I intended. The dogs woke me up to go outside so I guess I better go back to sleep! Ha. Does this help? Hope I did not ramble on for too long. Luis

How to Grow & Care for Fall Mums

When fall arrives, it’s hard not to mourn the passing of all the summer blooms we love so much: pompon dahlias, Shasta daisies, African daisies, zinnias, asters, coreopsis, and calendulas. But take heart, for the fall garden offers all these flower shapes from just one plant: the chrysanthemum.

Hundreds of hardy cultivars (a.k.a. a plant variety produced through selective breeding) provide an array of colors and bloom shapes, making mums the divas of the autumn garden. The blooms last for weeks, not days, and the sheer number of flowers per plant will convince anyone that this garden favorite really likes to show off. Add the mum’s impressionistic abilities to its longevity, and you have a plant that pulls its weight in the garden!

Check out the info below for answers to some of the most commonly asked questions about mums, as well as tips on chrysanthemum care and a guide to different varieties.

Related: Read All About Chrysanthemums in Our Plant Encyclopedia

Image zoom Whether on their own or combined with other foliage, mums are awesome bursts of fall color in pots or garden beds. Kritsada Panichgul/Panichgul Studios Inc

Are Chrysanthemums Annuals or Perennials?

One of the first questions people have about mums is whether they are annuals or perennials, and the answer is, they’re both! Mums generally come in two types: florist mums (also known as cutting mums) and hardy mums (also known as garden mums). Both types come from the same original parent—a golden-yellow daisylike mum from China. Today’s hybrids in both categories are the results of endless crosses between several species from China and Japan. The result of such hybridization performed over hundreds of years is different types of mums that perform for two distinct purposes.

Florist mums are large-flower plants with many possible bloom forms, from quilled to pompon to spider and more. Grown in greenhouses and used only as indoor plants, florist mums produce few, if any, underground runners, which are necessary if the mum is to survive cold weather. Florist mums planted outside are most likely being used as short-term bedding plants that will be removed when the blooms are spent. You can plant a potted florist mum you receive as a gift, and it may grow for the summer, but it will not survive the winter outside, no matter how much protection you give it.

Garden mums, on the other hand, produce underground runners and can survive cold better. Most garden mums are perennials in Zones 5-9 and much tougher than florist types. Some cultivars are less hardy than others and can be killed by an early spring frost.

Image zoom Pair mums with other cold-hearty plants, like cabbages, for stunning fall displays. Carson Downing

How Do You Care for Potted Mums?

Both florist and garden mums make great container plants. They’re just right for popping into a clay pot, lining up in a row in a fall window box, or placing in the center of a mixed container with trailing foliage plants all around. Making sure your potted mums thrive starts with picking the right plant. Never buy a mum that’s wilted; you want to start with the healthiest specimen you can get. Look for a plant with more buds than open flowers; it will last longer and the repotting process will be less traumatic for a plan not yet in full bloom.

Speaking of repotting, it’s one of the best things you can do for your mums. Most mums in containers will have very compacted root balls after sitting in store containers, so gently breaking up the root ball and giving the mum a new home in some good, fertilized soil will set your plant up for success.

And don’t forget the water. Chrysanthemums love full sun and all that heat means they also need plenty of water. Give them a good soak after first repotting, then water every other day or when soil seems dry.

How Should I Use Mums in My Garden?

Because of their tight, mounded habit and stunning bloom cover, garden mums are perfect for mass plantings. To get the maximum effect from far away, stick to only one or two colors. Another possibility is to arrange a gradual transition of related colors in an ombre effect. Look around your yard to see what colors would best complement the existing landscape. Many landscape plants can provide a backdrop for groupings of mums. For texture, choose ornamental grasses, berry shrubs, sedum, or almost any conifer.

If you decorate for fall with pumpkins and gourds, choose orange, bronze, yellow, and creamy white mums. If you have a lot of evergreen plants that provide a backdrop of varying shades of green foliage, try bright pinks, lavenders, pure whites, or reds. With such bold colors, a large grouping of mums can excite even the most drab of fall landscapes.

To get the most from your mums, choose cultivars according to their bloom times. It also helps to coordinate bloom time with the length of fall in your location. Most garden mums will withstand a light fall frost, but finding the right cultivars will provide the longest possible amount of pleasure.

Related: Ideas for Growing Mums in Your Fall Garden

When Should Mums be Planted?

Mums aren’t as expensive as many perennials, so if you choose to, you can plant them as annuals without worrying that you’ve spent too much money on something that might not live more than one season. If you’re an impulse buyer, you’ll probably see pots of colorful mums this fall and not be able to resist.

Fall planting lessens the chance of winter survival, however, since roots don’t have time to establish themselves. If you want something more permanent and are willing to provide proper care such as mulching and pinching to encourage compact growth and more blooms, plant mums in the spring and allow them to get established in the garden. This will improve their chances of overwintering and reblooming the next year. Some plants will even produce a few blooms in the spring before being pinched for fall flowers.

How Much Sun & Water Do Mums Need?

Whether in a pot or in your garden, mums like lots of light. Mums thrive in full sun conditions as long as you give them enough water. Choose a spot that gets at least six hours of sun a day. Plants that don’t get enough sunlight will be tall and leggy and produce fewer, smaller flowers. Just be careful: Light is not the same as heat. Don’t put potted mums out too early in the season when summer’s temps are still in full swing. Plants likely won’t survive well.

Water newly planted mums thoroughly, and never let them wilt. After they are established, give mums about an inch of water per week. When bottom leaves look limp or start to turn brown, water more often. Avoid soaking the foliage, which encourages disease.

What Type of Soil do Mums Like?

Mums thrive in well-drained soil. Heavy clay soil should be amended. If your yard is soggy after the slightest rain, grow mums in raised beds with friable soil for good root growth.

If the soil is too dense, add compost and prepare to a depth of 8-12 inches for best performance. Mums’ roots are shallow, and they don’t like competition. Plant mums about 1 inch deeper than they were in the nursery pot, being careful with the roots as you spread them.

Plants set out in spring should get a 5-10-10 fertilizer once or twice a month until cooler weather sets in. Don’t fertilize plants set out in fall as annuals, but plants you hope to overwinter should get high-phosphorus fertilizer to stimulate root growth.

How Do You Winterize Garden Mums?

Prepare mums for winter after the first hard frost. Mulch up to 4 inches with straw or shredded hardwood. Fill in around the entire plant, spreading well between branches. Pinch off dead blooms to clean up the plant, but leave branches intact. Mums have a better chance of surviving if you wait to prune old stems until spring.

Although garden mums are often called hardy mums, they may not survive the winter if drainage is poor or if you live in an extremely cold climate. If your mums survive the winter, you’ll see new growth developing around the base of the plant in early spring. As soon as the weather warms, pull away mulch to allow new shoots to pop up. The old, dead growth from last year can be clipped away. If nothing develops at the base of the plant, it’s a sign that the plant did not survive the winter.

You can also winterize mums in pots by bringing them inside by first frost and mulching. See Growing Mums in Containers for more info on caring for potted chrysanthemums.

Do Mums Need to be Divided?

Mums grown as perennials need to be divided every couple of years. Divide perennials in the spring after the last hard frost and after you see new growth starting. Dig up the plant in one piece and separate outer pieces from the center with a clean and sharp spade or large knife. Replant the outer portions into a rejuvenated bed, and discard the original center of the plant.

Three to five vigorous shoots are enough to make a showy clump. Once new shoots start to develop, give them a little slow-release granular flower fertilizer and leave them alone. When they are about 6 inches tall, pinch back the tops of each stem by 1-2 inches or so. This promotes compact, bushy growth later on.

Image zoom Pinching is a grooming practice that produces compact, bushy plants. William N. Hopkins/Hopkins Associates

What Is Pinching?

The key to those full, rounded domes of blooms that you associate with mums is pinching to create more branching and keep plants compact. Don’t hold back—just a few minutes here and there will reward you with a thick, solid-looking plant.

If you bought large, full plants in the fall, they have already been pinched and are ready for planting. Young spring plants will need pinching for maximum bloom and best plant shape.

Start pinching as soon as you see a good flush of buds. To pinch a plant, remove the growing tip of a stem by nipping it between your thumb and forefinger. Pinch about half of the tender new growth at the top of the shoot; choose some stems with buds and some without. Repeat the process with every 3 to 5 inches of growth (about every two to four weeks) until July 4. Stopping then ensures you will get good bud formation and blooms in fall. Each single pinched stem will divide into two stems.

Related: Maintaining a Perennial Garden

Do Deer Like Mums?

As a general rule, deer won’t eat chrysanthemums. But it’s really up to the deer. Like people, individual deer have specific tastes. I don’t like sauerkraut, for example, but friends of mine do. Most deer may hate chrysanthemums, but there may be an odd one or two that like them.

When you’re trying to find deer- or rabbit-resistant plants, you’ll need to learn largely by trial and error. (Though deer-resistant plant lists are always a great place to start.)

What are Some Different Types of Mums?

If you think mums are limited to the candy-colored mounded plants often sold in front of grocery stores, think again. There are dozens of gorgeous varieties of chrysanthemums, each with its own unique beauty. Here are a few mum types that would look great in any showy front yard display.

Decorative Mums

Also known as florist mums, these chrysanthemums have long, tightly overlapping petals. They can be either incurve (where petals curve up and in toward the flower center) or reflex (where petals curve out and down, away from the flower center). Some of the most common decorative varieties are ‘Coral Charm’, with bright purple, pink, and peach petals, and ‘Fireflash’, which holds true to its name with firey orange- and yellow-colored petals.

Varieties to Try

  • Chrysanthemum ‘Carrie’ A hard-to-find two-tone decorative flower that is a dark red-bronze in the center with golden-yellow outer petals. This extra-late cultivar shows none of the discoloration of aging petals seen in some older varieties.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Melissa’ This extra-late mum blooms through late October and was bred for excellent flower form, flower color, color retention, and growth habit. The bright lavender-rose flowers combine beautifully with ‘Erica’, ‘Ingrid’, and ‘Taffy’.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Vicki’ Another bright “wow” of a plant, these decorative blooms are rich orange with a darker orange center. They have awesome color and a full spreading plant habit.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Zesty Jean’ An unusual pastel peach-coral color, the early decorative flowers are more fully petaled and retain their color longer than others of this hue.

Image zoom Marty Baldwin

Pom Pom Mums

Also known as button mums, these fluffy mums produce masses of small, petal-packed blooms in an abundance of colors. Some common varieties of the pom pom chrysanthemum are‘Tinkerbell’, ‘Barbara’, ‘Patriot’, ‘Ruby Mound’, ‘Garnet’, and ‘West Point’, all possessing small, spherical flowers from summer to frost.

Image zoom The Pyrethrum or ‘Painted Daisy’ is classified as both Tanacetum coccineum and Chrysanthemum coccineum. Peter Krumhardt

Single and Semidouble Mums

You may often mistake single and semidouble mums for daisies because they look so similar. These mums have one (single), or two to three (semidouble) outer flower petals, growing very close together from the center disk. These type of mums grow a stunning 1 to 3 feet tall, perfect for growing along a garden fence. Some of the most common single and semidouble varieties are ‘Single Apricot Korean’, with shades of peach, and ‘Crimson Glory’, with shades of deep, crimson red.

Varieties to Try

  • Chrysanthemum ‘Blizzard’ This extra-late variety offers the largest (2-1/2-inch) and whitest flower available in a daisy garden mum. It develops into an almost ball-shaped plant covered with bright white blooms over extra-dark green foliage.
  • Chrysanthemum ‘Bold Felicia’ The early blooms are an unbelievable neon-hot pink daisy with a bright yellow center disk.

Image zoom The petals of Chrysanthemum ‘Kimie’ Spoon Mum resemble long-handled wooden mixing spoons. Brie Williams Photography Inc

Spoon Mums

The name truly fits this type of mum, which sprouts beautiful spoon-shaped petals. These flowers only grow about 4 inches in diameter, making it a petite mum to add to your garden that won’t take up too much space. The most popular of the spoon mums is ‘Kimie’, showing off golden yellow petals in a single row around a tight center disk.

Quilled Mums

Quilled mums resemble the single daisy type, only with the tubular petals. This is different from the full quill flower form, which is almost always seen only in florist, or decorative, mums. Some of the most popular varieties for quilled mums are ‘Mammoth Yellow Quill’, spikes of yellow, and ‘Seatons Toffee’, with red spikes resembling sparklers on the Fourth of July.

Anemone

Resembling the long petals of ‘Spider’ and ‘Spoon’ mums, ‘Anemone’ has long petals, just more flat than it’s semi-twin. This mum has one or more rows of single flat petals topped with a raised center of tiny disk florets. The florets are usually a darker color. These cute little flowers only grow about 4 inches in diameter, just like ‘Spoon’ mums. The most common anemone varieties include ‘Dorothy Mechen’, showing off light purple flowers, and ‘Adrienne Mechen’ a close cousin sprouting a pink center, trailing into bright white flowers at the tips.

Image zoom The Chrysanthemum ‘Lava’ Spider Mum resembles a firework caught mid burst. Brie Williams Photography Inc

Spider Mums

Spider chrysanthemums look a lot like the quilled and anemone mums. The only difference is in their thin, spider-like petals! Some of the most common spider mums are ‘Western Voodoo’, sprouting colors of orange and yellow, ‘Yellow Rayonnante’, showing off curvy petals, and ‘Seiko Fusui’, containing long, yellow, spider-like petals.

  • By BH&G Garden Editors

When Is the Best Time to Transplant Mums?

Transcript

Hi this is Yolanda Vanveen and in this segment we are going to talk about when is the best time to transplant mums. Now chrysanthemums have been around for many, many centuries. And they have a deep tradition with almost every culture in the world. They are highly edible. The leaves are used in many different cultures in many different dishes. Mums are beautiful presents too. And they are given as Mother’s Day gifts and gifts any time of the year and you see them in the fall all the time, with beautiful flowers on them, in all the fall colors. And they’re just a beautiful plant. But they can be grown outside too. So whenever you buy them or you get them as a houseplant always save them and turn around and place them in your garden. So my rule of thumb is as long as they’re blooming I don’t transplant them. Because when you transplant plants when they are blooming, sometimes you shock them or you don’t water them enough or they lose the bloom so they get damaged. So I always wait until they are done blooming. And they start turning brown and they don’t look quite good enough. So an easy trick too I found and sometimes you can get more blooms out of them, as soon as the blooms look bad, just chop the blooms out. But leave some greenery there. And a lot of times they’ll grow new lush greenery again. So when you are transplanting them outside the natural time would be to do it in the late fall even in the middle of winter. Because they bloom until Thanksgiving half the time in the northwest outside until it freezes really hard. And then they kind of die back and turn to mush. So when they die back you just chop them down to the ground or if they are still lush and green, I just chop them down to where ever they are green and they are still look alive. But they will come back every year no matter what you do to them, they are just beautiful. And I love my Chrysanthemums and you can always transplant them any time of the year. If you are moving or you are giving a start to a friend I always say transplant them when you think about it. Because you probably have a huge planter or a lot of plants and even if you transplant them and you might lose some of the blooms that first year, if you really want to give them as gifts or someone wants a start then it’s always the right time to transplant them.

Do you know when or how to properly repot a plant? Many of us wait until it is bursting out of its pot, pull it out, put it in a new pot, add some soil and hope it grows.

Here are a few signs that your plant needs a new home:

  1. The plant simply looks like it is too big for its pot
  2. The roots are growing out of the drainage holes
  3. Water is sitting on the top and not absorbing
  4. The soil is dried out or looks like it is disintegrating
  5. It’s been years since you repotted it

Whether you are transitioning to a new pot because your flowers are flourishing in the springtime weather or you just want to freshen up your decor, we want to give your house plants the best shot at survival in their new home. Follow the seven simple steps and you will be admiring the handiwork of your green thumb in no time.

Before you get to work, let’s make sure you have all the supplies you need.

Supplies

  • New pot – Be sure to pick a new pot that is slightly larger and has drainage holes.
  • Porous material – You will need these to cover the drainage holes in your new pot, coffee filters work great.
  • Potting mix – You will need extra soil when repotting and the added nutrients will help your plant grow.
  • Trowel – A trowel looks like a mini shovel and comes in handy when trying to remove the plant.
  • Gloves – While these aren’t necessary, gardening gloves will keep the dirt from getting under your nails.
  • Scissors or a sharp knife – You might need to cut off excess roots so keep a sharp knife or scissors handy.
  • Watering can – While this isn’t necessary, a watering can will make watering the plant easier on you.

How to Repot a Plant

Step 1: Choose a larger pot.

The main reason for repotting is because the plant has begun to outgrow its current home. You will want to give the roots plenty of room so they can support the beautiful part of the plant you get to enjoy. Make sure the new pot is not only wider, but also deeper. We recommend giving the plant at least an extra inch, depending on size.

Pro tip: Make sure your new pot has drainage holes. Otherwise your plant might be sitting in water and rotting.

Step 2: Cover the drainage holes with a porous material like a coffee filter.

This prevents soil from falling out but still allows water to pass through.

Pro tip: If you opt for a terra cotta pot, soak it ahead of time. Terra cotta absorbs moisture, and you don’t want it to dry out the plant.

Step 3: Layer soil in the new pot.

Before you place the new plant inside, add a base layer of soil so the roots have new space to grow. Add enough so that your plant has room without spilling over the top.

Step 4: Water the plant.

Before you repot it, water it thoroughly. This will help keep the plant healthy and keeps the rootball together.

Step 5: Remove the plant from it’s old pot.

Rather than pulling the plant out, turn it upside down while placing your hand over the top of the pot. Rotate the plant a few inches in both directions to loosen it up and allow it to fall out. You can use a knife to help separate the plant and the pot.

Step 6: Prune the rootball and untangle old roots.

Pruning older roots will help the plant flourish in its new pot. Remove roots that are growing out of the core rootball. Now that you only have the new, healthy roots to deal with, untangle them so they grow outward instead of internally.

Step 7: Place the plant in it’s new pot.

Make sure the plant is centered and upright then press it firmly into it’s new home and add soil. Once you have patted it down, water it to help settle the soil.

Step 8: Add a decorative touch.

Don’t forget to place your plant in a decorative basket of your choosing! Perfect for holidays, festivities or as a decorative touch for just about any space.

Now that your plant is potted, make sure you continue to care for it properly. We listed a few tips below for the first few weeks after repotting. Once you get past this period, return to caring for them as you did before.

  • Water frequently. Your plant will need a little extra water as it adjusts. The roots may begin to grow and will need the extra moisture.
  • Keep away from full sunlight as it will be more sensitive during this period.
  • Hold off on fertilizing for about a month.

Complete Guide to Repotting a Plant

You can find our complete guide to repotting a plant with the step-by-step instructions below—print it out, share it with friends or save it for a later project. Give your plants the best shot at survival and rest assured you’re repotting correctly. Happy gardening!

How to Properly Repot a Houseplant (Without the Mess)

Keeping plants alive is one thing, but knowing exactly when (and more importantly how) to repot a plant requires a whole new level of indoor gardening know-how. The right gardening tools are required, of course, but it turns out you don’t necessarily need a green thumb in order to properly repot your most hard-earned indoor houseplants.

RELATED: 6 Plants That Can Clear the Air in Your Home

According to Joyce Mast, Bloomscape’s resident “Plant Mom,” the act of repotting even the hardiest of indoor plants can be done in a matter of 15 minutes. Keep your most beloved indoor plants thriving with our how-to guide that details how to repot a plant without the fuss (or mess).

Indoor Gardening Tools:

  • 1 pot (preferably one that’s approximately 2″ larger than the pot you’re currently using)
  • Sharp scissors or pruning shears ($11; amazon.com)
  • Fresh potting soil
  • 1 old sheet

1. Determine if Your Plant Needs a New Home

A surefire sign your plant needs to be repotted is the presence of visible roots. Once plant roots make their unwanted presence known along the top of the soil (or if you witness a root growing through the drainage hole on the bottom of a pot), get your gardening tools ready. “That’s a sign that your plant is root-bound and needs more space,” says Mast. Another clue that your plant babies are in desperate need of a new home: If water rushes through the pot and out the drainage hole upon giving your plants a drink. According to Mast, this means that the roots are taking up too much real estate within the pot, resulting in a less-than-stellar soil-to-root ratio.

2. Stake Out a Spot in Your Home

If you’re limited on square footage in your humble abode, opt for an open area like a basement or outdoor patio. Dirt spillage is inevitable, which is why Mast recommends laying down an old sheet instead of newspaper to help corral dirt particles and stray plant trimmings.

3. Choose a Proper Pot

When selecting a new pot, choose a vessel that’s approximately 2 inches larger in diameter than the previous planter. If your new pot exceeds the 2-inch limit, your plant may suffer, since an excess of soil can lead to wet plants and root damage down the road. Remember to choose a pot with a sufficient drainage hole and saucer, too. “A plant without drainage is much more susceptible to root rot and death from overwatering,” says Mast of the common indoor gardening mistake.

4. Add Fresh Potting Soil to the Mix

Once you’ve selected your chosen pot, fill the planter one-third of the way full with fresh potting soil. Do this by sliding the plant from its current vessel and gently shaking the plant to encourage its roots to come along for the ride. With the help of sharp scissors or pruning shears, cut back any dead, mushy, discolored, or excessively long roots. Mast notes here that you should wipe the blades with rubbing alcohol between each snip.

5. Position the Plant

Next, place the plant in the center of the new pot, taking care to position the top of its root ball (the semi-solid mass of soil and roots) one inch below the top of the vessel. Fill the pot with soil, tamping the dirt down around the roots, leaving 1 to 2 inches of room between the dirt and the pot’s rim. “This enables you to water the plant without liquid spilling over the edge too quickly,” says Mast.

RELATED: 5 Hardy Houseplants That Are Hard to Kill

6. Give Your Plant a Drink

Lastly, water your plant thoroughly—that is, until water flows freely from the bottom of the pot. Afterward, allow the plant to “rest” so all water drains from your new pot, then place the pot on its new saucer. If water begins to puddle on the saucer, allow the plant to rest off the saucer for a few minutes longer to adequately drain.

Repotting a plant is easy and it’s an important step for plants to grow well.

This provides space for roots to grow, and also has the added benefit of renewing organic matter that plants need.

Indoor plants are often repotted, but even outdoor plants that grow in pots or containers deserve to be regularly repotted. Typical examples are shrubs and fruit trees that grow in garden boxes.

Here is all you need to know on how to repot plants.

Why do potted and indoor plants need repotting?

  • Organic matter present in the soil and crucial to the survival of a plant are a limited resource.
  • Plants collect these nutrients and feed on them, whereas watering tends to drag them towards the bottom of the pot, effectively washing them out and making them disappear.
  • Repotting serves to replenish these organic matter reserves for the plants to feed them and give them space to grow.

Best season to repot plants

The best season to repot is the beginning of spring. The plant then enters a vegetation phase – a leaf-growing phase – and will be better equipped to deal with the changing of pots.

It is also important to repot plants that have just been purchased, because they are generally sold when they have fully maximized their pot.

How to repot a plant

Prepare a larger pot than the previous one.

  • Ideal but not mandatory: pour a drainage layer of gravel or expanded clay balls.
  • Fill the pot with appropriate soil mix designed for the plant you are repotting.
  • Prepare the clump by removing dead, wounded and fragile roots.
    Use very sharp pruning shears to cut them off.
  • Place the clump at the center of the pot.
  • Fill to the top with soil mix.
  • Press down lightly and water in the following few weeks, depending on the needs of the plant.

How to repot very large plants

The alternative for plants that have already reached a size that prohibits repotting is to regularly renew surface soil.

This means to remove as much of the old soil mix as possible, down to where the roots appear. Don’t wound them, and once done removing, simply fill the vacant space with new soil mix.

This is called topdressing. It can be performed on large potted olive, orange or lemon trees to ensure they keep growing and bear fruit.

  • Check if your plant is growing in situations where topdressing is recommended.

Precautions when repotting plants

Plants with toxic sap

Some plants have sap that is a bit toxic. When handling these, it’s best to wear gloves.

  • If you’re planning on splitting some of the plants, glasses or goggles will keep sap from squirting into your eyes.

Examples of common plants that are actually quite toxic are oleander, peace lily, Pothos, and Caladium.

Protecting plants when repotting

Plants are fragile and generally don’t like to be handled too much. It may be that repotting triggers transplant shock.

  • This is usually very mild when the plant was handled carefully.
  • Keep an eye out, though, and check whether you need to apply some of the tricks to avoid transplant shock

Smart tip about repotting plants

For some plants, repotting is a perfect moment to divide them into smaller plants. This is called crown division, or dividing the clump.

One plant that particularly is fun to split & repot is Zamioculcas, since it grows thick tubers.

Read also:

  • Learn how to repot orchids
  • How to grow an olive tree in a pot
  • Repotting Basil – an easy procedure
  • Cuttings – propagate plants from cuttings

Credits for images shared to Nature & Garden (all edits by Gaspard Lorthiois):
Repotting station by Free Photos under license

How to Split Mums

Mums (Chrysanthemums) are ideal fall flowers, as they can easily fill space within your yard with vivid, rich colors for an eye-catching landscape. These classic fall flowers come in a variety of hues – from yellows to reds to purples – and can be used as container plants or planted directly into garden beds.

Since mums grow and spread easily, they are often split or transplanted into other areas throughout the yard. As a general rule of thumb, mums should be divided every couple of years to help promote regrowth and ensure health.

Here are a few steps to take to split mums, so you can enjoy them for many fall seasons to come.

  • Mums’ roots, called stolens, store energy needed for regrowth and should be closely monitored to determine when splitting needs to be done. When the stolen is plump or swollen, the plant is ready to be divided. At this point, carefully dig up the plant in one piece, using a small shovel or garden spade.
  • Next, separate outer sections of the mum from the center using your spade or large knife. Dispose of the center and focus on replanting or transplanting the sections you have split off. Each section must contain two to three shoots of the mum and a portion of the root system to have successful regrowth.
  • When mums are ready to transplant, cut 1″ squares to house the mum sections. Plant each new section 1-2 feet apart. The type of soil and sunlight should be similar to the previous place it was planted. Keep in mind, mums need good sunlight and drainage to blossom all fall and regrow the next season. Position each section with its crown slightly below soil level. If transplanting the mum to a container, surround the inside of the pot with newspaper or fallen leaves to protect the roots. Even though fall brings cooler temperatures, don’t forget to water on a regularly.

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