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don't re-pot?

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by Karamy on January 05, 2006 12:54 PM
I was influenced by Will Creed's previous post on the dangers of re-potting, as it does seem that whenever I've lost a plant, it began it's decline after re-potting (though I have re-potted many more plants that have thrived). So I made a resolution to only re-pot when absolutely necessary. But now I have a new Madagascar Dragon Tree that has 2 small root tips growing out of a drainage hole. Every authority (book, web-site) that I've ever consulted says that this is a symtom of needing to go up in pot size. Yet, I'm hesitant, as I know that draceanas in particular like to be tight in their pots. Any advice (you there, Will?)?
by Cricket on January 05, 2006 06:18 PM
Repotting a newly acquired plant is not the best of ideas. It can take up to several months for a plant to acclimate to its new environment during which time plant growth, including roots, slows. If you repot during this adjustment period, the risk of over- watering due to additional soil volume is greater and that can lead to root rot.

Dracaena Marginatas prefer to be potbound and kept on the dry side (mine does best when the top 1/4-1/3 of soil dries out between waterings). If you don't need to water your plant more than every three days chances are it doesn't need repotting. You can safely trim roots growing from drainage holes.

by Will Creed on January 06, 2006 08:53 AM
Hi Karamy,

Thanks for the acknowledgment and, yes, I am here.

The appearance of roots wandering out of a drainage hole is NOT sufficient evidence to repot. Here's why. A plant with just a few roots might have one of them wander out of the drainage hole. It is more happenstance when this occurs, so it is not a good indicator of repotting no matter how many books and websites say that it is.

Cricket's advice is good. Stray roots can be cut off without damage to the plant. Sometimes a mass of roots builds up in the lower inch or two of a plant's rootball. If that happens and the rest of the rootball has adequate soil, then you can prune off that lower mass of roots, add an equivalent amount of soil to the bottom of the pot and put the rootball back into the same pot. You have not repotted, but you have provided the lower roots with a cushion of soil that they need.
by Karamy on January 08, 2006 05:45 PM
Thanks Cricket, Will. After posting I took the plant out of its pot and looked at the soil, and there aren't many visible roots at the edges, so Will's totally right about it being a matter of happenstance.

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