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Top 5 tips for transplanting your garden

Sometimes a plant requires a move — maybe it’s outgrown its current pot or perhaps you’ve purchased a brand-new pot for a specific flower (or even a small tree). Knowing how to make transplanting easy will help keep your plant intact and your garden bright and fresh!

Woman gardening outdoors

Choose the right variety and size of pot

For outdoor plants, drainage is especially important because of rainwater. Make sure pots have adequate drainage holes. If you want more holes you can use a drill or a screwdriver to add additional holes in the bottom of your pot (be careful if they’re made of breakable material, like ceramics). If you live in a windy area, substantial pots such as terra cotta work well, as they are weighty and breathable. The taller the plant, the more root space it usually needs so pick your new pot accordingly. For indoor plants, the sky is the limit for pot choices; just make sure you have something under the plant to catch any excess water so your floors or tables won’t get ruined.


Deal with excess roots

Plant with roots

If your plant is rootbound —  in its roots are compacted and retain the shape of the container when you remove the plant — take these steps when transplanting. The easiest way to loosen roots is by using scissors on the outer edges. Slide the scissors in and out of the roots and you will soon see them free up. You can even cut some of the roots off if necessary. By loosening the roots themselves and the dirt stuck inside, you allow the roots to grow in a healthy way again once you replant.


Cut the plant back if needed

Gardening sheers

Sometimes moving to a new pot is a good time to cut back plants and give them the opportunity to fill out in their new home. If a plant has thinned out as it has grown taller or has leaves that look diseased, you can take the opportunity to trim it back before transplanting so that it can develop a thicker, bushier look. This trimming may also eradicate disease if leaves have spots or discoloration.


Find out about fertilizer
and what kind is
best for your plants

While we all know plants need water, many people don’t realize how much happier and healthier they would be if they were fed! Yes, plants thrive when both food and water are administered. Some potting soils already contain fertilizer; check the label. Fertilizer comes in liquid, stick and tablet forms, too. Many plants will do just fine with an all-purpose plant food. There are also special plant food mixes for acid-loving plants such as camellias, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas and evergreens, and for orchids.


If you have any shoots or limbs that break off
or are damaged during the transplant process,
don’t give up on them immediately

Newly transported plant

Many plants can root in plain water. Use a sharp knife or plant shears to cut the end at an angle and place in a vase or glass of water. You can even add a touch of all-purpose plant food. Check the cuttings a few times a week until they’ve grown sufficient roots, then plant in your favorite pot. This works especially well with geraniums, begonias, gardenias and azaleas.

Once your plant gets acclimated to its new home, you will likely see it grow and thrive. It’s wise to keep a close eye on the plant for the first few weeks after transplanting to make sure it is getting proper water and light. Plants are like people in that they usually thrive in a new and larger environment, even if takes a little getting used to.

More gardening tips

How to grow seeds indoors
6 Houseplants you can keep alive
How to landscape for your region

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