Help! Large pothos (marble queen) wilting after repot
Big-time fan but long-time lurker of this forum. I've finally made an account in desperation, hoping that someone can help me figure out how to revive my beloved pothos. I will be forever grateful to whoever has the patience to read and reply. Apologies in advance for the lengthy post.
Background, and house environment:
I bought my pothos several months ago (end of winter early spring) from a Home Depot and it was very large but obviously very old --no other pothos plants were on sale and a lot of the leaves were mangled --it looked quite beat up. When I moved it home, at first it lived in a rather shady spot in my apartment then I moved it to my kitchen on top of my cupboards. It's about 10ft from very large windows and receives very bright indirect light in the morning, then indirect light the rest of the day. Since moving it to the kitchen the plant took off, sending vines down the side of the cupboard, sending vines along the cupboard on the opposite side, a bush at the centre, lots of marbled leaves, new ones everyday --I was so happy!
I decided to repot two days ago. My reasoning for repotting: roots were growing up out the top of the pot (several inches). The soil, when dried, felt hard as a rock, and when watered, would pass water through immediately (and the soil would still feel kind of dry). I figured the soil had become hydrophobic which doesn't necessarily merit a repot, but combined with the root situation, I figured it would't hurt (fatal mistake #1?).
I purchased a larger plastic pot, I believe two sizes up, something I was hesitant to do but was stuck because there were only much smaller pots available. I drilled several drainage holes into the bottom. It went from an 8 inch to a 12 inch pot. (Fatal mistake #2?)
For the soil, I had miracle grow potting mix on hand. I know it's not the ideal product because it holds too much moisture. I did however have perlite and small pine bark chips (from an orchid mix) and decided to mix all those together, with slightly more perlite. The final product seemed light and 'chunky' . My reasoning for the mix was anything that can make the MG drain more readily and have more air the better, but I'm recalling now comments from older threads about potting media with different particle size --essentially, I've negated any beneficial effects of the bark chips if the mix isn't coarse enough because water will still move to the finer fractions. I was hoping the pothos would be robust enough to withstand an MG-based mix since these plants are renowned for growing (sometimes thriving) in less-than-ideal circumstances. Fatal mistake #3?
The repotting process:
I tapped out my pothos and holy moly was it root bound. Long roots wrapped around the bottom and top of the rootball (now the shape of the container) a couple of times. The roots were all tangled together, trapping the small amount of soil left like a cage. However, the roots looked healthy --they were whiteish and hard, no signs of rot, and some were really thick. I tried my best to separate the roots with my fingers but in the end had to make some cuts in the rootball, and in the detangling process some roots fell off. I wasn't planning on bare-rooting but it came to that, and in the end 15 individual plants emerged, most with very long roots. I'm thinking this is the most fatal mistake (#4), maybe I shouldn't have disrupted the roots so much? (Even though I've read separating root bound plants and root pruning are are beneficial to growth)?
I then proceed as I normally do for repots, I added some of my soil mix to the pot, then started adding in the plants with their roots, making sure the stems weren't in too deep. I arranged the long hanging vines to one side and the shorter vines to the other side. Placing all those plants back in was difficult without the roots criss-crossing one another in the pot. Then when I was pleased with the arrangement, I finished adding the soil mix, and then sprayed the soil so it was moistened, not wet.
Over the past two days, I've seen the pothos grow limper and limper (with me becoming increasingly sadder and sadder). The leaves are flimsy and look flattened out, no stems sticking up and reaching for light as they used to. Some near the top are looking pale but I can't yet tell if they are yellowing. It's definitely worse than yesterday. The top inch of soil is moist but not wet. Same light and temperature as always.
What to do?
I've read that it may be transplant shock and that I need to let it be for a few weeks and it should rebound. But it's seems that it's wilting at a steady pace and I'm worried in a few more days it will no longer be salvageable.
I've read that it may need more water if the roots were out in air for too long, and to water it from the bottom (by filling it's saucer). It could be that I didn't give it a thorough enough drink when I repotted, but I usually don't right away --I usually wait a few days after the repot to give them a proper drink (with water flowing out the bottom).
Should I cut some of the longer vines so there's less plant for the now lessened amount of roots to sustain? Should I cut all the long vines? Can I put those vines to root in this pot or should I try rooting them in a separate smaller pot? I'm worried if I slice and dice the plant, there won't be enough leaves to make food for growth.
Should I repot the whole thing in a better mix (i.e. without bark chips?) in a much smaller pot? Or will that stress the poor plant out?
I'll try to add a picture soon.
Big big big thanks in advance for any feedback.