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re-potting plant basics

English Thyme and Munstead Lavender young plants

This time of year is great for planting and transplanting. It's not too hot so young seedlings won't get burned by the hot sun's rays and leaves won't be scorched. Also, rain should be (hopefully!) on its way for the winter so the young plants will get enough water for them to develop a strong root structure and stay healthy.

I needed to re-pot the above pictured thyme and lavender plants, so that they have more room for their roots to spread out and the grow.

Here are the basic steps to repot a plant.

Remember to always water the plant to be transplanted in its pot before you transplant it!

This will help remove it from the smaller pot and eases the trauma of being transplanted.

Prepare the larger pot into which you will transplant:


Here is slightly larger pot I'm using for the Munstead Lavender. You can use a plastic or ceramic or terra cotta pot with drainage holes in the bottom. I often use plastic pots so that I won't need to water frequently.

I place shards from a broken terra cotta pot over the drainage holes of the pot for several reasons - prevent slugs and other undesirable bugs from crawling up through the holes into the soil. They can damage the plant. Also, when the plant is watered, the water won't directly flow right out through the soil without first moistening all of the root structure.

You can also purchase a roll of soft screen mesh material from a plant nursery and cut a piece that is large enough to cover the pot drainage holes. Place in the pot over the drainage holes before you fill with the potting soil.

Pour the potting soil into the larger pot, up to 2 inches below the rim of the pot, leaving an indentation in the center the size of the smaller pot.

Place the plant in the smaller pot on the soil in the middle of the larger pot, in the indentation.


Push down with the smaller pot with the plant in it into the center indentation of the larger pot, until the smaller pot is up to its rim in the soil of the larger pot. Now you have the correct depth to transplant the plant.

Pull the smaller pot with the plant back out of the center of the larger pot.

Tap gently and firmly around the sides of the smaller pot,


holding the smaller pot at a sideway angle over the larger pot. This loosens up the plant and its rootball from the smaller pot. If the plant slides very quickly out of the smaller pot, holding it over the larger pot prevents it from falling on the ground and getting damaged.

Carefully place plant with its soil into the center of the larger pot in the indentation.


And press down the soil around the plant. Add more potting soil if needed. The base of the plant should sit level with the surrounding soil.

As you can see, I keep the plastic identification tags that came with the plant. It helps me remember how often the plant needs to be watered, if it should be kept in direct sunlight or half shade, and how big it is going to grow. It also helps me remember the exact name of the plant when I am writing notes in my garden journal or recommend it to others.

Gently water the plant and soil of the larger pot,its new home.


Place your re-potted plant in a place with the appropriate light for it.


Ah, now the lavender's roots can stretch out and grow!

Don't be alarmed if at first some of the leaves of your re-potted plant turn yellow, or, if it has blossoms on it, they wither and fall off. This is normal. Plants always undergo some trauma when re-potted or transplanted. But when they are tended to properly, they will grow and thrive.

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