Table of contents:
- Repot a potted plant
- The right soil for potted plants
- Varieties of soil
- The right irrigation water for potted plants
- Soften water
- Pouring rules
- Fertilize potted plants
- Multiply different potted plants
Video: Water potted plants and care for them properly
Caring for potted plants properly means more than just watering. It starts with the choice of the pot. In order for the potted plant to grow properly, it needs enough space. You can get tips on propagation, repotting, the right care and the right irrigation water for potted plants here.
Clay or plastic? Years ago, this was a question that sparked some violent arguments. The hobby gardeners now live in harmony with both. Only on the terrace you have to watch out for frost-proof ceramics in late autumn.
With its porous walls, the clay pot has the property of also absorbing moisture from the outside. On the other hand, it also evaporates moisture - the earth dries out faster in the clay pot. This means that the plants in the clay pot need more water than in the plastic pot. The ceramic would actually jump at temperatures below zero degrees Celsius - the water freezes in the pores and expands. To avoid this, there is frost-proof ceramic. The difference to other ceramics is that the frost-resistant variant has been fired several times.
If a well-functioning water drain is already important for the clay pot, this is often life-critical for the plastic pot. The advantages of the plastic pot:
- There is no evaporation cold (clay pot up to two degrees Celsius) - the pot is therefore warmer.
- There are no salt deposits (efflorescence) and no moss or algae when damp.
- The plastic pot is easier to clean.
Ultimately, the question of “clay or plastic pot” is a question of taste: many people find the clay pot to be more visually appealing, with the plastic pot the planters also moved into the apartments.
Repot a potted plant
Plants only feel good in a suitably large pot in which their roots have enough scope. The pot size is decisive for how much soil is available to the plant. Since the irrigation water and the nutrients dissolved in it are not completely absorbed by the plants and mineral salts are deposited, it is advisable to flush the pot with plenty of water every now and then and to renew part of the earth every year. For the majority of all clay potted plants, the most suitable time for repotting and transplanting is spring. It gets lighter again and the plants start to grow again and form new shoots.
Charcoal and broken pieces of clay prevent wet earth from sticking together completely.
Photo: living4media / House & Leisure
A few more practical tips: The drainage hole must always remain free so that the earth does not clog it over time. The easiest way to do this is to put a pot of pottery shards in the pot. Then spread a thin layer of earth over it and place the carefully loosened root ball inside. The plant must not sit higher or lower.
The right soil for potted plants
Above all, good potting soil must be airy. This property has peat and compost, as well as humus from beech leaves, needle litter and vegetable waste. The sound is in stark contrast to them. But a balanced mixture of both, peat and clay or humus soil and clay, results in a loose, good plant soil.
Such earth is ready to buy in bags. The specialist calls it unit earth. Because they are always put together in the same mixture in the earth factories and because they are suitable for almost all potted plants. Common soil as well as the peat culture substrates also available in bags are already enriched with mineral fertilizers and have the advantage of being free from pathogens, animal pests and weed seeds.
Since the irrigation water and the nutrients dissolved in it are not completely absorbed by the plants and mineral salts are deposited, it is advisable to flush the pot with plenty of water every now and then and to renew part of the earth every year.
Varieties of soil
In addition to special soil for certain plants (such as cacti and azaleas), two are important for the potted plant friend: standard soil P with medium nutrient content for freshly rooted cuttings and type T with high nutrient content for older pot plants. These differences also exist with peat culture substrates (DCS): DCS 1 (lightly fertilized) for young plants and DCS 2 for the already larger crops. It is important to thoroughly moisten before use: you have to let TKS soak with water until it slowly drips out under pressure.
This desire to absorb water can also be dangerous. Especially for those gardeners who have no control over their desire to water. In short: potting is probably the most widespread maintenance error in potted plants. Charcoal and broken pottery shards prevent the wet earth from sticking together completely. Sharp-grained quartz or river sand acts like a sieve through which excess water can be drained off.
It is no coincidence that soil with clay addition is also called heavy soil: it actually weighs more and, above all, gives plants in large pots their stability. Heavy soil is just right for voracious plants like oleanders.
The right irrigation water for potted plants
An enemy that is bad for the majority of our houseplants comes out of the tap: Hard, lime-rich water. But rainwater is also no longer what it used to be: Since rain has become increasingly pollutant, particularly in conurbations, experts have been putting more and more question marks behind this rainwater recommendation. If in doubt, it is advisable to soften the drinking water from the pipe. The responsible factory can provide information on the quality of the water on request. There is always talk of degrees of German hardness, which allows conclusions to be drawn about the calcium content of the water:
1 degree DH means that one milligram of lime is in one liter of water
For most houseplants, problem-free values are between eight and nine degrees DH. For higher values and for plants that are particularly hostile to lime, softening is recommended before use as irrigation water.
An enemy that doesn't do most houseplants well comes out of the tap: hard, lime-rich water.
Photo: fotolia / schulzie
Up to ten degrees DH: Let water stand overnight in a vessel with as large a surface as possible: lime deposits.
Up to twelve degrees DH: Boil water, the lime precipitates as a scale.
12 to 15 degrees DH: Let peat (one kilogram per ten liters) hang in water in a linen bag overnight. Use twice, then replace the peat.
Higher than 15 degrees DH: Adequate softening is only possible with chemicals. There are finished products (irrigation water softeners) that precipitate the lime in the water. Also possible: a special filter jug for treating tap water. In all cases, boiling or peat filtering is sufficient if the plants grow in substrates containing peat and are transplanted more often than usual.
There are two watering rules that apply to all plants except swamp residents:
- Always wait with watering until the top layer of potting soil has dried.
- If in doubt, only pour with lime-poor water, which must not be cooler than the air. Brief drying out can usually be compensated for by increased watering, root damage due to waterlogging is almost always irreparable, the loss of the plant must be expected.
If you go on vacation or don't want to water yourself every week, automatic irrigation systems are a good alternative.
Fertilize potted plants
Nothing can go wrong with ready-made fertilizers, provided the manufacturer's dosage information is followed. Where there are ambiguities, the same applies here: it is better to fertilize a little too little than too much. The plant itself indicates when there is a shortage.
Multiply different potted plants
High air humidity, coupled with soil heat, promises the best results in propagation. So you get plants for free.
1. Propagation by cuttings
Oleanders can be propagated through cuttings. To do this, put a tight but translucent hood, for example a plastic bag, over the pot or over the bowl with the cuttings to generate tense air. This air, which is highly saturated with moisture, enables the cuttings to reduce their leaf evaporation. He still lacks the roots to ensure water replenishment!
High humidity and warmth are necessary for cuttings to root.
Photo: living4media / Johnér
The small amount of air under the hood is easy to saturate by keeping the soil constantly moist. The plastic hood and leaves of the cuttings should not touch each other - risk of decay! You can support the hood with a wire arch, its two ends go into the ground. Or put four flower sticks of the same length in the pot and pull the plastic bag over them. Secure the film with a rubber band.
2. Multiplication by leaves
Of some popular houseplants, a single leaf is sufficient as the base for a complete, new plant. The best known example of this type of reproduction is the African violet with velvety hairy leaves; it is also possible with other plants such as begonia, sansevierie and rotary fruit (Streptocarpus).
The leaves are separated from the mother plant (they can also be easily torn off with a slight jerk) and the ends of the stems are cut smooth. A normal-sized flowerpot is filled almost to the brim with a mixture of half sand and half potting soil. When plugging in, make sure that the stem does not get too far into the propagation substrate. After inserting, pour the substrate thoroughly. This also flushes the soil close to the stems. Allow excess water to drain off and use a plastic hood to ensure that the air is tight. Make sure that the sand-soil mixture never dries out completely.
Since uniform heat (20 to 25 degrees Celsius) from below is extremely beneficial for root formation, the purchase of a floor heating mat can be advantageous. You can also put the pots over the heater (if necessary put a polystyrene plate underneath). When roots form, new leaves begin to grow. Now each cuttings come individually in a pot and are cared for like the mother plant.
3. Propagation by moss
This frequently tried and tested propagation practice is particularly recommended for tall indoor plants. Above all, of course, rubber tree and philodendron. You can also try Drazäne and Cordyline. Mossing has nothing else to do than rooting the shoot of an older houseplant that has grown too tall.
The first cut horizontally and then diagonally upwards through half of the trunk irritates the injured tissue to form roots. On the other hand, the head shoot continues to be supplied by the parent plant. So that the cut surfaces do not grow together again, it is best to add a piece of aluminum foil in between (there is also a flat stone). Then wrap this interface in damp moss or in peat. A thick layer of paper handkerchiefs does it too. Rooting takes at least six weeks. We recommend the warm summer weeks as the best date.
4. Propagation by head cuttings
For this propagation technique, the tips of shoots or side shoots are cut off, usually with three to four leaves or pairs of leaves. The lower leaves are removed with a stem because soft leaves quickly rot. Shoot cuttings of some plants such as ivy, hard-working Lieschen and Tradeskantie also root easily in water. Put in a pot in a damp sand-peat mixture, you have to make sure that the soil is rinsed close to the stems by spraying the earth finely. Plastic hood, bright location and soil warmth promote root formation. Propagate in spring or after pruning the plants.
Runners can be removed and placed in a small pot with damp earth or water for rooting.
Photo: living4media / Cecilia Möller
5. Propagation by foothills
Green lily and saxifrage are probably the best-known representatives of indoor plants, which form daughter plants either on the flower shoots or on thread-thin runners. You can remove these runners and place them in a small pot with moist soil for rooting. They soon take root under the cover of foil. Also possible: First hold the runners in the damp soil of a pot with a wire clip and only separate them when you have your own roots.
6. Propagation by leaf parts
The thick, fleshy leaves of the bow hemp already indicate how robust this houseplant is. Propagation is just as easy as maintaining it. One of the possibilities, that of leaf pieces, brings several plants. But perhaps also a bitter disappointment: the sheet hemp, which is increased by leaf parts, always falls back into the transversely banded green origin. The yellow border is only inherited if the young plant grows from a piece of rhizome (= root). The leaf sections of the Sansevieria come so far into the moist sand-peat mixture that they find a good hold and do not fall over. When the soil warms by 20 degrees Celsius, sections are the safest to root. Place young plants individually in pots.
7. Multiplication by division
This is the easiest way to get multiple plants. Since each part already has its own roots, you can do this almost at any time. In any case, whenever a transplant is due anyway. Propagation by division is only recommended for those houseplants that form several stems or tufts of leaves. These include, for example, the bow hemp, the cobbler palm, the green lily. Often, small-leaved or climbing plants bought from the gardener sit in groups of several to make them appear a bit fuller. If you have to transplant them, you can also share them immediately. Powder larger interfaces with charcoal dust (from the grill) to prevent rotting.
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