when to re-pot honeysuckle in container

terryo2October 1, 2011

I have a honeysuckle about 6 ft high in container on my balcony. It seems healthy but I think it is ready for a larger container. What is the right season to repot? Should I wait until the plant loses its leaves? Right now (October 1) it is still sending out new shoots and is quite green. I'm also concerned that without a larger pot, it won't have enough root insulation for the NY winter.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

The size of the pot has little to do with 'insulation'. All a larger soil mass offers is a reduction in the amount of time it takes for root/soil temps to equalize with ambient temperatures, which isn't really an advantage. When it comes to chill injury, it's ultimately temperatures dropping to killing lows that wreaks havoc with roots. IOW - big pot - little pot - doesn't matter. It just takes a little longer for big pot to reach killing low temps.

Repot in spring before bud movement or at the very onset of bud movement.

As long as it's not Lonicera nitida, your plant is probably a zone 3 hardy plant & won't need protection, though you'll need to be sure it doesn't go dry ..... and wrapping the stems with burlap will help prevent serious dessication when the soil is frozen & water unavailable for uptake.

Al

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 6:37PM
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terryo2

Al,
Thanks so much. Your answer leaves me with a few questions:
1. do you mean I do not need to wrap the existing thin-walled plastic pot itself to provide further insulation?
2. how do you define 'the stems'? e.g. how far up do they go? does that mean anything that looks woody?
3. can i use bubble wrap (which I've read about as a possibility for wrapping)?
4. when do i wrap the stems?
5. how do i know when/if it has gone dry? and when do i need to check that? (during the winter? before the first frost?)

Sorry for so many questions but I used to have a garden and now I have a NYC fire-escape converted to balcony and am quite ignorant about how to deal with it.

Terry

    Bookmark   October 1, 2011 at 9:24PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Imagine a cup of water. If you put it in a freezer at 0*, it will quickly freeze & the temperature of the solidified water will quickly come to 0* - let's say in an hour. If you put it in a Styrofoam cup, the temperature will still drop to 0*, but it might take 1-1/2 - 2 hrs. If you put the Styrofoam cup in a small cooler & put the small cooler in the freezer, it might take 10-12 hours for the temperature to drop to 0*, but it WILL drop to that temperature.

You must have an extraneous source of heat to trap, if insulation is to serve a purpose. E.g., if you set a plant on the garage floor and cover it with an overturned cardboard box for its insulative value, it will trap the heat rising through the garage floor. So if the air temperature in the garage dropped to 0* because you left the door open over night, the temperature under the box might only be 20*. If you just wrap your plants in bubble wrap, it will serve no purpose unless you have a heat source that allows heat into the soil so you can trap it with insulation. Toss a curling iron in the cooler with the Styrofoam cup in the cooler & it won't freeze because you have heat from an extraneous source you can trap.

Define the stems as any part of the plant you don't want to lose. I'm assuming you'll cut the plant back after it loses its foliage as it blooms on new wood. Simply wrap the top in burlap or an old blanket. It needs to breathe to prevent fungal issues, and the blanket/burlap isn't 'insulation' - it's a wind break to slow dessication.

Wrap the stems before the soil freezes solid. Plants are at greater risk of dessication when water is locked in ice & unavailable.

You'll know if the plant is getting too dry because you'll be checking it every 2-3 weeks to see - right? ;-)

Al

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 1:25AM
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terryo2

Al, Wow! - thanks for such a clear and precise answer. It seems then that the only reason to repot is if the honeysuckle is becoming rootbound; and the repotting should be done in the spring before bud movement.
Thanks again,
Terry

    Bookmark   October 2, 2011 at 1:35PM
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