Post-Repotting Care

I had a couple of re-pot’s to undertake for new enthusiasts this weekend.

I’d rather someone comes round with tree and pot, so they can watch – and better understand what to do when they tackle one for themselves.

A frequent question is … “what do I do when I get it home?” I’d much rather they come up with the answer themselves so always ask  what they think they ought to do.

I’ve had from  … keep it in the house, pop it in the shed (no windows) , water twice to three times a day and so on.

For the majority of outdoor species, protection from frost, and wind is about all that you need to be aware of. I read frequently that a freshly repotted tree must be kept in the shade and out of direct sun.

Sun

This time of year in the UK, the sun is usually just pleasantly warm, and I have yet to have any tree display problems because it dared to have some direct sun. Agreed some delicate species such as Maple benefits greatly with dappled sun, those newly emerging leaves are delicate but at some time they will need to be exposed to the sun to harden the tree foliage off.

Again, common-sense must prevail here. A sunny windy day for a broad-leaf after repotting is almost a guaranteed death sentence. Simply put, the roots cannot keep up with the speed in which moisture is being lost through the leaves. If you hear the word transpiration, then this is what it means.

Wind

Is most definitely one to avoid; movement of tree in a pot is absolutely not recommended, so shelter is advised. Frost also should be avoided, new growth does not appreciate it and you want your trimmed roots to grow; frosty times will bring it to a grinding halt. When a frost is forecast, sure then you can put the tree in a shed or garage, but just remember to put it back outside to get some brightness.

I’m fortunate, I have a large enough green-house that is suitably shaded, I do heat though when it drops down to just one or two degrees. A porch is good, a conservatory is usually not; they get very hot so be cautious on that one. OK for quick protection on a cold night though.

Watering?

This is  important. Although my soil mix is very free draining; with the components I use and recommend, moisture is still available to newly created roots. If you insist on watering every day after the repot, it is highly likely your tree roots will become very lazy.

I have actually tried this out, and when I keep them only just moist which generally equates to watering just before the soil base is leaning towards the dry scale, new root growth is so much faster than watering constantly. The tree will be more than happy you watering daily or twice daily, but it will become lazy as it doesn’t have to work very hard to find moisture.

Just give a good drench after repotting and then wait; sure it varies on conditions, depth of pot, species type, but as a general rule of thimb you should look to make the roots work for their water! Again, that old common-sense must be remembered, DON’T let the root-ball completely dry out before watering again. This is not what I mean; not soaked, just moist and probably drier on the surface.

After several weeks once new growth on top is flying along nicely, you will then need to increase watering frequency.

To relieve species such as Juniper having to supply existing foliage simply mist twice daily; the foliage will be quite happy this way, and then the roots can  grow away without having to supply ‘up-top’ at the same time. keep it up, I have seen Junipers, Cypress, etc die six months later; it is frustrating when this happens to you.

Personally, I mist everything for the first two to three weeks. It’s up to you but it does work for me!

Feeding?

I don’t feed any species for a minimum of six weeks, but to be honest, nearer eight to ten weeks. I do however use a very-very light organic feed for almost all species as a foliar mist spray. Just a couple of ml in a one litre spray container once a week until I am happy the new roots can cope with feed. I will commence this after four weeks.

Do remember that mineral and general feeding is not just a one way street. As well as the roots providing nutrients to ‘upstairs,’ a tree/plant will take in nutrients to send ‘downstairs’ as well.

With a very basic but enthusiastic care regime, during that first six weeks, it will pay you dividends in terms of settling in, and giving you a perfectly healthy tree to enjoy.

Exceptions?

Are there any? Of course there is. Some species, for example Hawthorn, are susceptible to mildew. Misting and humidity can well increase the risk. There are many ways to treat mildew, and aside from breeze (which has been discussed earlier) light etc to reduce possibilities I have been using a product called ‘plant rescue’ for a couple of years now and have remained mildew free. It is systemic so once done it can be forgotten for six to eight weeks.

 

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