An Oft-Forgotten Repotting Clue-
Deciding to repot or not is often fraught with angst. Do we do it this year? Maybe next year?
Considering the clues can help you decide. Maybe you know a tree with slow water penetration, that one might be ready for a repot. Try driving a chopstick into the soil on another one, near the edge of the pot—if it goes in easily, likely you can skip it this year. Perhaps a few branches died on the next tree…maybe you want to repot it to investigate.
One clue that doesn’t get much attention is internode length.
Azaleas are among the easiest to see a change in internode length over a few years. Azaleas grow long internodes after repotting, showing off their colt energy. Then after a couple years the internodes moderate. And then there’s a year when they are really quite short, the twilight period. The year after that, some branchlets might die, or worse, the crown.
This azalea shows happy, fairly long shoots. It’s unlikely that it needs repotting this spring.
An azalea with short internodes…might be a clue to repot. And yet check in with other clues as well.
While the chopstick thrust into the soil is likely your best tool to determine when to repot, notice all the clues. Weakening. Branch loss. Poor drainage. And also short internodes. When we line up two or more of these clues, our confidence in repotting timing can strengthen.
February 2021 Bulletin Board:
- Still a couple spots in the second Winter Seasonal-lite session, March 20-21—for details about this online course focussing on repotting tricks, advanced thinking, and the design questions answered at repotting time, see our Seasonals page