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Published: Thursday, 8/14/2008

Potting Pointers for Summer Projects

(ARA) - The bulbs are in the ground and your seedlings are sprouting. What's next for "green-thumbers?" Summer repotting season, of course!

"Summer is a great time of year to repot house plants," says Bob Gillingham, president of Plant Stand Inc. and a self-professed repotting enthusiast. "Think of it as spring cleaning for your house plants. You're tidying up their living space and, if you do your repotting outdoors, giving them a welcome breath of fresh air as well."

Repotting a house plant is a simple chore that can reap big rewards as repotted plants get new opportunity -- and room -- to grow. As you take on summer repotting projects, Gillingham recommends keeping in mind these potting pointers:

* First, be sure repotting really is necessary. Poor watering practices, overly compacted soil or oxygen starvation can cause roots to grow along the sides of the pot, making the plant appear root bound. Gently break open the root ball. If you find roots inside the root ball, it's time to repot. If the root ball is hollow, remove the soil, return the plant to its original pot and reconsider your watering practices.

* Know your soil. Check with your local garden center to determine what type of soil is best for your plant.

* Pick the right pot. A general rule of thumb is to repot a plant in a new pot that is at least 1 to 2 1/2 inches wider in diameter than the previous pot.

* Be gentle. Tip the pot and cradle the plant stem in one hand. Gently tap on the bottom until the plant slides free. Separate dense and matted roots. Place mesh or stones over the drainage holes, cover the bottom of the pot with about an inch of soil, then slip the plant into the center of the new pot, and surround the root ball and plant with fresh potting soil.

* Replace repotted plants in their original location or outside during summer. Potted house plants can thrive outdoors as long as they are exposed to the appropriate amount of sun or shade and temperatures aren't too high.

Wherever you place your pots -- indoors on a carpeted floor or outside on your deck or patio -- be sure to protect the floor beneath the pot. Proper drainage is essential for both plant and pot health, Gillingham says. If your pot is sitting in a puddle of water on the floor or in a collection tray both pot and plant can suffer. Over water your plant and the catch tray will overflow, water will pool unseen beneath the tray, and your carpet, wood floor or deck may be damaged. Courtesy of ARA Content

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