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Successfully Repotting Your Tradescantia

We’ve all been in a department store dressing room trying on different pairs of jeans to see which we prefer. After about a million tries, you finally find that perfect pair! Sadly, your Mini Tradescantia doesn’t have the luxury of just slipping in and out of their new pot.

Repotting your Tradescantia is a calculated risk and an investment! If things don’t go just right, it can become the downfall of your plant! So, exactly, how do you repot a Tradescantia?

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Choosing the Correct Season for Repotting Tradescantia

The beginning of the growing season is the optimal time for repotting your Tradescantia. These plants are dormant through the winter months and start growing in April. So, if you’re reading this in the spring: you have the green light!

Repotting your Tradescantia, or any plant for that matter, during their dormancy is a bad idea. Since these plants are asleep, the roots may not recover from the shocking transfer, let alone grow to fill a larger pot. This thus increases the chances of developing root rot!

Choosing the Right Time

Tradescantia naturally grows on rocky roadsides in Argentina and Brazil. While mature plants have showy, cascading foliage, they require a surprisingly small amount of soil to thrive. Why does this matter?

Just because your Tradescantia is growing doesn’t mean it needs repotting. Actually, it is a sign that your plant is happy and flourishing. You have to look for other indicators! Like what? Roots poking out of the drainage holes or slowed down growth are two excellent signals that your plant needs a little more wiggle room.

You never want to repot your Tradescantia frequently or on a whim. There needs to be solid proof! If your Tradescantia is growing at its average pace, it’s best to leave it alone to finish the growing season. Remember, there’s always next spring! Don’t be in a rush.

Selecting the Best Container

A key factor when you’re considering repotting your Tradescantia is: What are you repotting it to? Since these plants hate soggy roots, it is best to select a container with drainage holes that doesn’t retain too much moisture. For instance, terra cotta pots wick moisture out of the soil while thick-walled concrete or glazed ceramic pots hold the water in. Make sure also to select a well-draining potting mix.

What about the size? Your new pot should be 1-2 inches wider and deeper than the one you currently use. That’s right! The width and depth count.

Since these plants usually have shallow roots, it may be best to consider pots that are wide but short, such as an Azalea Pot. This size is also a good idea on a practical note. These plants are usually top-heavy, and you don’t want your prized plant taking a tumble! (Or breaking your foot!)

Step-By-Step Tradescantia Repotting Instructions

If you’ve taken your time to determine if you’re in the correct season, if it’s the right time for your plant, and have painstakingly picked out the perfect container, that means it’s finally time to repot!

1. Wait until your Tradescantia needs to water, and then give it a good drenching! Doing this will help you separate the roots later without damaging them. 2. Put on your gardening gloves. Even if you enjoy occasionally getting some dirt under your fingernails, gloves are still a good idea! Tradescantias excrete an irritating sap, which will make you itch for hours.

3. Gently pull your Tradescantia’s vines to one side so that you can lay its pot horizontally. If you’re on a soft surface, delicately tap the pot on the ground, which should loosen the topsoil and roots. If further encouragement is needed, insert your gloved hand into the container and gently go around the pot’s edges so that the roots release.

4. Once you’ve removed your Tradescantia, take your hands and untangle the rootball. While you don’t want to cause unnecessary damage to your plant’s roots, you do want to get in there! Imagine putting mousse in your hair. Be gentle but vigorous!

5. Fill the bottom of your new pot with well-draining soil, place your plant in the middle, and fill in the sides. Your “soil line” should be ½ to 1 inch below the brim of your container.

6. Thoroughly water your plant. While soil-watering is usually the best-bet for Tradescantias because they can develop stem-rot, your plant likely needs a full-on shower to remove excess dirt! Water until there is a good stream coming out of the drainage hole.

7. Propagate. Chances are, after repotting your Tradescantia, there will be a few vines lying on the ground. Tradescantia is one of the easiest plants to propagate. Simply remove a few leaves and place the stem in your freshly watered soil. In a few weeks, it will be a rooted member of your plant!

8. Place your Tradescantia in a brightly lit, well-ventilated area. As noted above, these plants can develop stem rot when the stems are exposed to too much moisture. Ensure the extra water evaporates by leaving your plant in bright light (but not the direct sun!) for the day.

9. Hold off on fertilizing. While the spring is the correct season to fertilize, repotting disqualifies your Tradescantia for a month or two! Why? Fertilizing encourages the roots to grow, but your plant isn’t rooted yet in the soil. Let your plant get a proper footing in its new home before you push it to grow!

No matter how successful your Tradescantia repotting adventure goes, you will eventually have to replace your plant. After a year or two, these plants lose their luster and come to the end of their natural lifespan. If you want to keep the same plant going, propagation is your friend! Continue to place propagations in your “mother pot,” but also start a new propagation pot for good measure. Doing this will ensure that you will enjoy your Tradescantia for years to come.

While your plantie doesn’t have the luxury of trying on its new pot for fit and comfort before it moves in, it does have you! Best wishes in determining if and when to replant your Tradescantia.

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