It is always a good idea to have herbs planted in your vegetable garden, or even in small pots around your kitchen. This way, you will always have fresh herbs at the ready when you want to cook a fancy dish.
If you already have herbs growing and they have started to look a little worse for wear, do not throw them away. It is quite possible that you just need to repot them.
The most common reason your herbs need repotting is that they have grown too big for their pots. Like all plants, herbs’ roots can take over the pot as they grow, and eventually, there will be no space left for them to grow into. This can lead to slowed or stunted growth, and even death if you let it go on for too long.
In this article, we will discuss the reasons you might need to repot your herbs, as well as how to do this properly.
So, if you have some herbs that are looking a little rough and you want to learn more about repotting them, just keep reading.
Why do you need to repot your herbs?
When we talk about repotting the plant, that does not always mean the pot has to be replaced with a new one. Sometimes the old pot is reusable, but you need to replace the soil.
Other times, the pot needs to be replaced because the roots have become out of control, growing out of the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot or becoming so abundant that they literally push the plant upwards and out of the pot, so that many roots are exposed. You will need to remove the plant to trim off damaged and tangled roots, so you can fit more soil in the pot and for water to reach all of the roots.
Another reason repotting is essential is because the soil in the pot becomes depleted of essential nutrients and minerals over time.
If you suspect that your plant is overwatered or has root rot, this is another reason to remove the plant from its pot. This allows you to inspect the roots and replace the soil, thereby stopping any infection and halting the spread of the rot to the rest of the plant.
When the excess roots are removed, or when the small pot has been replaced with a bigger pot, the roots will have more room to grow into and your plant will no longer be strangulated and will thus be infinitely happier.
How to repot herbs
Before starting the repotting process, make sure you have all the materials and tools you need.
Gather the herbs that you plan to repot, new pots, new soil, compost, and your spade or trowel.
Make sure the new pots are at least one size bigger than the old pots. One size larger usually means that the diameter of the new pot is two inches bigger than the old one. Choose a pot that is made of clay or terracotta because these materials are more porous and will allow the passage of water and air more freely, as opposed to metal or plastic pots.
You can use regular potting soil as long as it is not too dense. You do not want the soil to retain too much water, because this can lead to overwatering and root rot. To be perfectly safe, it is still best to do some research so that you know what kind of soil your specific herb prefers, and not to simply assume.
Prepare the new pots by filling each one with the new soil, and work a little of the compost into the soil. Make a hole in the middle of the soil, large enough to insert the plant’s roots.
Remove the herb plant from its old pot by pulling it very gently until it slides out. Shake off as much of the old soil as possible from the plant’s roots and insert the plant into the hole you made in the new soil.
Make sure the plant sits deeper in the soil, or at the same level, as it did in the old pot. Press the new soil gently around the roots.
Water the soil thoroughly and put the plants in a spot where they can get lots of bright, indirect light.
If I bought the herb from a store, what should I keep in mind?
If you have just brought your herb home from the store, you should repot it as soon as possible, or at least within the same week of purchase. This will improve its chances of survival. This is especially true for herbs that come from a supermarket. These plants are not cared for as well as those that are grown in nurseries. Their soil is often poor in nutrients and they may have been exposed to less-than-ideal lighting conditions.
Another reason you need to repot supermarket herbs as soon as possible is that there could be multiple plants crowding the pot. These plants are planted in such a hurry that sometimes too many seeds are placed in the soil. As the plants grow, they will compete for the limited resources in the soil as well as any source of sunlight. So, when you remove the plant from the pot, you might have to divide all the individual plants and place them in their own pots so that they do not have to fight to survive.
Separate seedlings that are stuck together cutting them apart at the base, making sure they all have their own roots. If the seedlings are too small and if you will not be needing them anyway, you can always toss them in a salad, because they are perfectly good to eat. Just make sure they have been thoroughly washed.
You can also place these seedlings in a glass container of water to help them root, and then add them to your other potted seedlings.
Can I keep my repotted herbs outside?
Yes, but again, different herbs have different care requirements, so do your research first. Most herbs, however, are fine when kept outside. If the herb has been inside the house for most of its life, you may need to acclimatize it before moving it outside permanently. Do this by placing the plant outside for a few hours at a time, adding more and more time each day until it has adapted to its new environment. You do not want the plant to get transplant shock, so easing it into a new environment is always the best way to go.
Growing potted herbs in your garden can be a great way to save money in the long run. Instead of running to the supermarket every time you need some herbs, you can just break off a few leaves or stems from the herbs in your garden and you are good to go.
Like all houseplants, herbs will need to be repotted when they outgrow their old pots, when the soil in the pot has become nutrient-poor, or when you suspect that the plant is overwatered or has root rot.
Repot the herb by removing it gently from its old pot and placing it in a new pot that is a size bigger, with fresh soil. Water the plant thoroughly and place it in a spot where it can get lots of bright indirect light.
After a few days, the plant should have reestablished its roots and can now be cared for like any other herb.
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