The shamrock gets its name due to the shape of its leaves, which resemble those of a clover. In the Gaelic language, the word ‘seamróg’ means ‘little clover.’ These plants have become quite popular among plant enthusiasts and are kept as houseplants because they are relatively low-maintenance and they bloom during the winter.
Your shamrock will need occasional repotting, and the most common reason is that it has outgrown its old pot. If you do not repot it in time, it can become rootbound, which can cause a host of problems for the plant.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons your shamrock may need to be repotted, when you should repot it, and how to correctly do this.
So, if you are thinking about repotting your shamrock but need to learn more about it before jumping in, just keep reading.
When and how often should you repot a shamrock?
The best time to repot your shamrock is when it is just about to come out of dormancy. This is because it is best for the plant to undergo a stressful event when it is just about to start actively growing. In its active growth phase, the plant will recover much faster from the repotting process.
The shamrock can go dormant several times a year, so it is all about timing.
Typically, you should only need to repot your shamrock once a year. It is fine with being slightly rootbound and this frequency of repotting should suffice without it becoming a chore for you.
Why do you need to repot your shamrock?
The most important and common reason a shamrock plant needs repotting is when it has outgrown its pot. These plants are fast growers, especially when they are younger.
A shamrock that has outgrown its pot will become rootbound, which is when the roots are so crowded within the pot that they no longer have space to grow into. You will see roots growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, and they will displace the soil in the pot until there is very little soil left. The roots will wrap around the root ball until it forms a solid root mass that even water cannot penetrate. This can lead to root rot when the inner roots can no longer dry out completely between waterings. The rot starts when the roots die from being constantly wet, and they become susceptible to pathogens in the soil that exacerbate the rot, causing it to spread faster to the rest of the plant.
Sometimes there is so little soil left that no water is retained, and the plant ends up thirsty or even dehydrated.
Another reason to repot the plant is to replace the soil. Over time, the soil in the plant’s pot will become depleted of essential minerals and nutrients, and the only way to replenish them is by using fresh soil. Poorly-draining soil will also need replacing with a potting medium that is well-draining so that any excess water can flow easily through it and out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
How to choose the right pot for your shamrock
When it comes to choosing the new pot, the most important factor is size. Make sure that the new pot is only one size, or two inches in diameter, bigger than the old one. It may be tempting to buy a pot five times bigger because you think it will save you time and money, but this will not benefit the plant. A large pot means more soil will be needed to fill it, and the more soil is in the pot, the more water is retained. The more water in the pot, the higher the chances of the plant becoming overwatered and getting root rot.
Choose a pot made of clay or terracotta. Avoid plastic or metal containers because they are too dense and will not allow the roots to dry out sufficiently between waterings. Clay and terracotta are porous enough to let water and air pass through to reach the soil and the roots.
Make sure the new pot has drainage holes at the bottom, also to avoid overwatering.
How to choose the right soil for your shamrock
The shamrock is not that particular about the kind of soil it needs. It is completely fine growing in regular potting soil, as long as it is not too dense or compact. The soil should retain enough water to keep the plant happy, but it should also dry fast enough that it does not cause the plant to become overwatered.
If you think that your soil is too heavy and dense, you can make it looser and better-draining by adding either perlite or coarse sand. The addition of the coarse sand or perlite will allow air and water to reach the roots more easily than when it is just pure soil.
How to repot a shamrock
The night before repotting the plant, water it generously so that the soil is loose and the plant is well-hydrated and happy.
The next morning, remove the plant from its old pot. Lay the plant and pot on one side and, while holding the pot, gently pull on the plant until it slides out. If the plant seems to be stuck in the pot, use an old knife or spatula to loosen the sides of the soil from the edges of the pot. If the plant still will not budge, you might need to break the pot. However you do it, try to inflict as little damage as possible to the plant’s roots and foliage.
After removing the plant from the pot, massage or shake off as much soil as you can from the roots. If you need to use water to wash the soil off, do so.
Once the roots are exposed, inspect them all and look out for parts that are brown, black, soft and mushy. These are rotten and you will need to remove them. Use a sterilized knife or scissors to cut off all the damaged roots.
When all the damaged roots have been removed, prepare the new pot by filling it to a third of the way up with fresh soil. Place the plant’s root ball in the middle and then fill in it with new soil until the soil sits around an inch below the rim of the pot.
Water the plant and place it in a spot where it can get lots of bright, indirect light.
The shamrock is an alluring and intriguing plant whose leaves resemble those of a clover. It is a relatively low-maintenance plant and only really needs repotting when its roots have outgrown the pot. You will know your plant has outgrown its pot when there are roots growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot, or roots are displacing the soil and appearing above the rim of the pot.
Repot your shamrock by removing it from its old pot, getting rid of the old soil, inspecting the roots and removing damaged roots, and planting the shamrock in a new pot filled with fresh, new soil.
Water the plant after repotting and place it where it can get lots of bright, indirect light.
Image: istockphoto.com / imacoconut