I have a confession… and this isn’t easy actually… but here it is: I’ve managed to kill three trees, twice. I bought the first round, to create a privacy wall from my neighbour. The nursery potted them for me and delivered them to my door. It was perfect – but within a few months, they all died. I blamed the cats. So I bought another set of trees, repotted them and… a few months later, dead… the problem is that my cats are hunry all the time, they tend to climb trees to catch birds, and clearly my trees were not ready to be climbed.
This has been a big shame for me – how can I kill trees?! Finally I asked my friend Nova to help me. Turns out that it wasn’t entirely my fault (or my cats!) She came around to teach me how to properly repot a plant, to give it a good start. Let me show you four great tips that I learned!
We spent the afternoon with Nova, my friend Alina from Abundant Earth and my two little monkeys – playing in the dirt… I learned more in those two hours about keeping my plants alive, than years of Google searches ever taught me!
When you buy plant from the nursery or a shop – you really don’t know what’s in the soil. Honestly, I would just bring it home – transfer it from it’s plastic pot, to a new pot – add in a little extra soil and call it a day. But if you want beautiful plants, much like our own wellbeing, it all comes down to what’s going on underneath the surface!
You can start with your plants at home now. If you find that the soil is hard and dense, you can fix it. Gently pull out the plant and follow the steps below:
Pro Gardening Tip 1: Correct the Soil
Nova was not impressed with the soil that the nursery had used for my trees. Full of clay – you can see the soil is dense, and balls up easily. “We can make a ceramic bowl with this soil!” Clay is often used because it’s cheap – but too much is terrible for our plants. Water and oxygen can’t flow throughout the soil to keep them healthy. Nova dug up the soil to loosen it all up and then mixed in fresh, new soil.
If the nursery repots your plant, make sure to buy a bag of good compost soil and tell them to use it for the repotting.
Pro Gardening Tip 2: Add Compost
Nova taught us how to make your own compost, if you haven’t seen it, check it out. If you don’t have compost ready yet, you can buy a bag – look for organic and fully composted.
After you mix in the fresh soil, add in some compost to nourish your plants. Mix everything around – the old soil, the fresh soil and compost. Get your hands in there!
Make a well in the center, and you’re ready to put your plant in. Top up with more soil to secure the plant.
Pro Gardening Tip #3: Give it a GOOD watering
I was surprised at the amount of water Nova added in. It was a lot! But she explained that the plant will initially go into shock after repotting, so help it out by giving it plenty to drink. With the new soil, all that water that we poured in got soaked up right away! That’s what were looking for – she was happy that it meant there was good drainage.
Pro Gardening Tip #4: Dig for Worms
Worms are great to help aerate and correct the soil. You can add them to any plant that you have at home – and if you’re wondering where you’re going to get worms from, I did too at first! When she said, let’s go dig up some worms outside, I thought – you can just do that? Turns out you can!
Nova says, “Keep adding more worms; they will only do good things for your soil”. Now I have something to look forward to doing once a week with the girls!
There you go, 4 tips to help you repot your plants. To review:
- Correct the soil. Loosen up any dense, clay soil. Mix in a good quality soil
- Compost. Make your own or buy a bag of premade – organic and fully composted.
- Give it a good watering. You should see the water get soaked right up. That means you have good drainage.
- Dig for worms. Let these guys aerate the soil for them, and in turn provide them a nice place to live.
Hope that helps next time you repot your plants!
P.S: don’t forget: