Need help re-potting hibiscus

northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)July 27, 2012

I have a large tropical, double, red hibiscus plant which needs a new pot. The plant is 3.5 feet tall and as wide. In searching for a new pot I found that most of what was available in large sizes were platers, not pots. But I found a large (16-inch) glazed resin pot by Myers Lawn & Garden which seemed to be a pot because it has this in the bottom:

The little plate is about 9 inches in diameter, and at its centre it sits about 7/8 of an inch off the bottom of the container, forming a little resevoir. When I saw this, I figured it was a pot, but now I am wondering if it is a planter. If it is a pot, how would I deal with filling it? Would I need gravel or other material in the bottom to provide drainage? What are your thoughts on this item? Should I return it and look for something else?

Thank you.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm not sure what differentiates a pot from a planter, but I'd lose the reservoir and make sure there is a drain hole in the bottom of that pot ...... and a wick hanging out of the drain hole, if you're planning on using a commercially prepared soil based on peat or other fine particulates.

Also, you said you want to repot, but I suspect you plan on potting up, which isn't as effective as repotting at restoring a plant's potential for growth/vitality. Do you make the same distinction in that regard?


    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 12:22PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Hi Al, thanks for responding. I am laughing out loud because we are falling over 'words'. I tried to make my post as short as possible so I will start again. Maybe we should start with a few definitions. In my opinion:
- a pot is something with drain holes into which one puts growing medium and a plant;
- a planter is a more decorative container, without drain holes, into which one puts a potted plant.
I am trying to decide which category this item falls into because of this apparent 'resevoir'. I bought this item fairly quickly and now it seems the resevoir is inadequate for the amount of growing medium I need. I also feel the perforations in the plate would allow growing medium to pass through thereby preventing drainage and killing my plant. I felt perhaps someone had come up with a crafty/novel way of using said item as a pot. BTW this item is glazed resin, bronze hued, which fits the decor of my home very well. It was fairly expensive and I don't want to bore any holes in it. I would prefer to search for something else.

I am not very versed in the words of container gardening, but perhaps you should differentiate between re-potting and potting up. Perhaps I am potting up: I am putting the plant in a bigger pot because it is root bound in its present pot, and is not reaching its "potential for growth/vitality". Usually by this time of year there are buds, but instead it is dropping a few leaves. This plant is about 20 years old and this is usually my cue for a new, bigger pot. I hope this makes it easier for you to understand what I am asking.

Al, do you care to to re-consider your response with this additional information? I am asking you to.

Thank you.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 1:15AM
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redshirtcat(6a MO StL)

I have several citrus trees in those containers. I tore out the black plastic piece in the bottom and drilled drail holes in the bottom (it has none). I suggest you do the same. The reservoir isn't large enough to allow the container to function as some kind of SWC. Unless you are dead-on with when you water and exactly how much you use you will have a disaster on your hands IMO.

    Bookmark   July 28, 2012 at 2:49PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hibiscus have VERY vigorous root systems, which need your annual attention to perform well. That means you might want to consider learning how to get your hands into the roots and mechanically correcting the root congestion that is limiting your plant. It will make a very significant difference. Let me know if you're up for learning some new skills.

Potting up is essentially some form of moving the plant to a larger pot that holds more soil and letting nature take its course. Repotting includes removing most or all of the soil and pruning the roots to ease constriction and make room for fine roots that do all the work. For tropical hibs, this would normally be undertaken in early spring, so as not to interfere with blooming any more than necessary.

You can use your pot/planter as a cache pot, but like the others, I think it best not to plant directly in it w/o drain holes.

Best luck.


    Bookmark   July 30, 2012 at 5:14PM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Thanks for your advice Redshirt. Actually I looked at the underside of the pot yesterday and there were marks indicating where the holes should go. I tried the saucer for the present pot (ceramic glazed) and it's a fit, so I think I'll use that.

Thanks, Al for your information about my hibiscus, and yes, I would appreciate any information you have to share.
If necesary, you may send any written advice to my e-mail which is available through my profile.

It makes sense that there may be considerble congestion in the pot. However, since the plant has not bloomed this year, does it matter if I do the repotting now,rather than have the plant suffer over the winter? It is also much easier for me to do the job while it's warm outside and don't have to have growing medium all over my house. This plant does not go outdoors in summer. I did it a few times and it always brought in one or more pests, so I stopped doing it. Also, I usually prune the plant quite severely each fall. Would it be appropriate to prune and repot at at the same time, or would that be too much stress on the plant?

Since you referred to using the pot as a 'cache pot' am I to understand that this repotting procedure uses the current pot, and not a new one? In that case, I can return the new pot. It was quite pricey. I look forward to your information. Thank you so much.

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 12:53AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You can repot now if you like, but don't delay too long. Days are growing shorter and recovery time increases as days shorten. Also, you want to do your root work when it's quite warm (summer months). If you do a full repot now, you'll be rewarded with a nicely rejuvenated plant next spring and plenty of blooms. After that, try to plan on early spring repots annually.

Read the link below, with special attention paid to the info on repotting, then ask any questions you might have.


Here is a link that might be useful: More about woody material in containers ....

    Bookmark   July 31, 2012 at 7:38AM
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northerner_on(Z5A ONCanada)

Al, thank you so much for that most informative material. It makes so much sense when laid out in that form. I think I may have vaguely heard of root pruning, but now I am armed to undertake the task I have in hand. Actually, I do not need the new pot. I have several 5 gallon cans and large garden pots which I can use as cache pots. Now I just have to arm myself with all the required tools and on a nice cooler afternoon (we've been having unusually hot weather) I will have the job done and can look forward to the large numbers of blooms we used to have. Your help is so much appreciated.

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 12:37AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I'm so glad you found the offering useful - always my goal. So often, I reflect on my own journey & how much easier things would have been if I had a mentor willing to sort through some of the superfluous in order to put the bulk of what I needed in front of me. I think everyone that puts himself in the position of teacher enjoys the feeling that his efforts are appreciated and have made a difference in someone's growing experience.

If you found the first link helpful, I'm hoping you'll find the one below to be illuminating, as well. It's a comparatively shorter read.

Take good care!


Here is a link that might be useful: So! Your plant likes to be rootbound?

    Bookmark   August 1, 2012 at 3:12AM
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