Updated: Feb 9, 2022
By Shelly Kay, Magickal Herbalist
When it comes to growing happy, healthy plants, it can be stressful to figure out what works best. The key to preparing to re-pot or transplant them is not to overthink it or to become stressed out. The situation can seem challenging, especially if you're worried about making the wrong decision.
You won't make a mistake so long as you listen to your intuition and what your plants say.
"What do you mean, 'what my plants say?' They don’t talk to me!"
I promise they are talking to you whether you listen to them or not. Some people may indeed hear their plants actually speak and use words, others may get feelings, or you may find yourself answering questions that you didn't even hear.
You don’t have to be a psychic or meditate hours on end to develop relationships with your plants to find your plant allies. Any plant can talk to you whether you know its species, name, or anything about them.
In my experience it depends on the plant and its personality, my sage plant quite defiantly told me he was a boy when I addressed him as a girl. I could quite clearly see him looking like Peter Pan in that pose with his hands on his hips, huffing “I’m a BOY!” I apologized rather quickly for my assumptions!
Another plant asked specifically for two amethyst crystals to be added to the pot. While I didn’t hear them actually ask for them, I was instinctively putting two in their new pot! Then there was the succulent having a diva fit because she wanted a pretty planter but wouldn’t fit in the watering can she wanted. We compromised and I brought her a bright yellow teacup planter. She accepted!
All of this is to say that plants have feelings and needs, too. These needs cannot be summed up on a small tag from the store. They need more than just the right amount of sun and water. They are our equals deserving our respect.
When I am considering repotting my plants, I always try to talk to them beforehand and give them a heads up. Let them know the plan and ask them if they have any preferences. I tell them how beautiful they are and hope they will enjoy more room in their new homes and can stretch out their roots. I make it a positive change that they get a say in deciding. We talk about the pots they will be in, the new soil that is going to feel so fresh, and the nice bath of water they will get.
During this time, I’ll start preparing the soil. I like to make sure the soil isn’t going to be too dense, so I add 1 part perlite to 6 parts of good fertilized organic soil. I also like for my soil to be barely wet so it doesn’t get too compacted when it is in the pot.
Before I begin the actual process of repotting them, I spend some time telling them how much I appreciate them and give thanks for all the hard work they do. I send them healing happy energy as we talk. Sometimes we gossip about the goings-on around them or whatever they want to chat about.
I think of repotting plants much like getting a haircut, it’s got to make you feel and look good or it isn’t worth it. Once I have the plant feeling comfortable, I ask for permission and if they are ready to leave their current home. If they are feeling fussy, I take my time and explain why we need to move them to a bigger home and let them think about it while I work on the next plant.
Once the plant has let me know they are ready to be moved into their new home, I very gently remove them from their current pot with as little shaking and pulling as possible. We go as slow as the roots need us to go. Now that the plant is free of its old home, I inspect the roots and soil for any issues such as being rootbound.
Rootbound is when the plant has sat in the same pot too long and the roots have no further room to grow so they just wind themselves around and around. If this is the case, I like to gently squeeze the soil to release the roots a little bit. I try to touch the actual roots as little as possible because they are basically exposed nerves.
While technically, you can cut the roots to increase the likelihood of them spreading out, I do not recommend it unless it is an extreme case where you can’t get them to loosen up. I find that loosening up the soil is usually enough to relax the roots and encourage them to spread.
If your plant has significant rootbound issues, I recommend you move up two sizes on the new pot so they have enough room to spread out and still grow before they get bound up again.
I like to put rocks or broken bits of other planters in the bottom of the new pot to improve drainage, but it is not a requirement unless the pot doesn’t have drainage holes. After a shallow layer of drainage items, I will fill the pot up about a third of the way with soil and begin checking how deeply the plant will sit in the pot. I like the plants to sit about an inch below the lip of the pot.
Loosely fill the pot with the damp soil until the plant sits where you want and then fill the sides. I gently compress the soil down just slightly so it doesn’t become too compacted. The plant will let you know when you find a happy balance between the density of the soil and how full the pot is.
Then give the plant a nice good soak of water just until the water stops draining. Then take the plant on a cruise around your home until the energy and plant let you know you’ve found the spot it wants to be in.
Follow these simple techniques and watch your lovelies blossom and grow!