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.
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.