Transplanting by Plant Personality Type and Needs

when to transplant a jalapeno

Transplanting jalapeno,
an impatient hothead

Transplanting a plant should be an easy exercise. If it’s too big for the pot it’s in, it needs a new pot. Right? It’s not like the plant is going to care. Right..?

Well, yes and no. For instance, I spent this afternoon transplanting the jalapeno from a little peat pot starter into a larger pot, even though it was still not all that big compared to its starter pot. BUT —and here’s where the fun happens— when it started growing, it was smack dab up against the edge of the peat pot, and it was way too small to move without risk. So I waited, for nearly a month as it turns out, until it had gotten a good enough foothold to be able to withstand the move. But transplanting the jalapeno meant learning what sort of a plant personality I was facing.

Transplanting the Drama Queen

Plants will mess with you. Some transplanted plants are Drama Queens, screaming their fool heads off about how terrible you are as a steward and how you abuse them at every turn. Threatening to alert the authorities, call the neighbors, raise a ruckus. Then the next day they’re all comfy and happy and settling in.

Transplant in the morning while it’s still sleepy, and maybe you’ll get the task done before it starts to panic.

Transplanting the Stoic

Then there’s the Stoic. Go for it. No, no anesthetic. I can take it. Just give me a log to bite down on and —(muffled) AARGH. No, nothing. Just a scratch. A shot of whiskey would be good. Thanks, dude.

REAL Transplanting Guide

  • Water the day before.
  • Transplant when cool or overcast.
  • Water just before digging up or taking out of its pot. Soak the root ball.
  • Water the hole here the plant is going.
  • Place plant into hole and fill halfway with water. Wait while it settles the soil.
  • Firm up the soil around the plant.
  • Water the whole plant.
  • Shield from direct sun (3-5 days).

When you’re not looking, the Stoic one faints dead away. Act fast before it wakes up.

Transplanting the Collaborator

There’s the Collaborator. All full of opinions and guidance. No, not that one. Too small. That one’s a mite wide. No, let’s go with terra cotta; gray just doesn’t do a think for my eyes. Mulch and a handful of —YES, that soil, that soil. No, not that one. That’s got that bleach odor to it. Well, ok. Yes, I can live with — wait! What about that one in the corner? Four days later it wants to move again.

Distract it and transplant based on your own logic.

Transplanting the Diva

There is never a good time to transplant the Diva. You are, after all, interrupting her routine and insulting her previous choice of pots by insisting on this gauche process. I mean, goodness. They certainly don’t make us do this sort of thing in Bel Air. Come now. Let’s get it over. I have a mani-pedi at 11 and tennis with Giorgio at 2. Oh for GAWD’s sake put down a tarp. That’s a 19th Century Kurdistan Herati!

Aim for late afternoon, and before the dinner party starts. She’ll want time to change.

Transplanting the Hothead

You might as well transplant this at high noon on a hot sidewalk or at midnight by the light of the New Moon; it’s going to want you to hurry no matter what. The jalapeno started yammering the moment I took it away from its nice warm perch in the growing room window, and didn’t stop until I got its roots firmly buried in a brand new 8″ self-watering pot worthy of a plant ten times its size.  Done yet? Done yet? Done yet? Oh for Pete’s sake are you done yet? You’re slowing me UP. I gotta GO. I gotta MOVE. C’MONNNN!

Aim for a nice quiet afternoon, with earplugs in place when you start.

Bottom Line

There are going to be some plants that were born mad, who don’t want to be pleased, don’t want to be happy, and don’t want to be transplanted smoothly no matter how careful you are. Work calmly and confidently, and don’t stop to pick a fight.

 

 

 

Planting pots and how to reuse them

old planting pots awaiting reuse

Old planting pots just waiting to be reused

Old planting pots congregate in our patio room like old men around a chess board in the park. I think they visit from other houses in our neighborhood, too; there are used pots I don’t recognize and a few I would have thrown out on sight.

I’ve also got a great stack of yogurt and cottage cheese containers. With a few drainage holes they’ll do the trick. Just don’t forget which ones you’ve poked holes in. After that, they make terrible water glasses.

Don’t pick up a used planting pot from the floor and just start planting in it. Old pots can host a variety of stuff you don’t want lurking around your veggies. Bacteria, disease, debris, mineral salts, and layers of crud in general — nothing you want, trust me.

Bleach Your Planting Pots

Start by whipping up a solution of one part household bleach in nine parts water. Make enough that you can submerge your biggest planting pot – you’ll need to soak each pot for at least ten minutes. Put your pots into this and walk away for awhile.

Soap Soak

Once your used pots have soaked for ten minutes or more, submerge them in warm soapy water. Scrub or scrape off any mineral deposits and built-up gunk. Use steel wool on clay pots and a scouring pad on plastic pots.

Rinse Well

Rinse well and submerge in clean water until you’re ready to use them.

On that note, it’s important to keep clay planting pots wet so they don’t leach the moisture out of your potting soil and away from your plants!

With just a little care, you’ll be able to reuse your planting pots through many growing seasons.