The majority of houseplants are pretty easy to move into a larger pot (up-potting). The leaves, petioles and stems are somewhat flexible and you can move them out of the way when you’re adding soil to fill the space between the root ball and the edge of the pot.
But african violets are a different story. I’ve always struggled with up-potting them. The petioles and leaves are brittle and break easily when transplanting. Some suggest the you let the plant get dry before transplanting it because if the petioles and leaves are less turgid, they’re less likely to break. While this can help, there’s still the issue of getting the soil into the pot. No matter how careful I’ve been, I always end up getting potting mix all over the leaves and petioles and, since they’re both covered with hairs, the soil sticks and it all ends up being a big mess.
That’s why I was happy to learn a trick for transplanting violets from the Optimara web site. Below, with pictures and commentary, I’ll show how you can transplant a violet into a larger pot with ease!
Here I have the things I’ll need to transplant this violet – sterilized potting mix, a larger pot and a piece of paper towel. I use the paper towel to line the bottom of the pot. It works well because it allows the pot to drain but keeps the potting mix from coming out of the holes in the pot.
Here I’ve removed the violet from its old pot.
I then put the paper towel into the bottom of the new pot, added potting mix to the bottom and then put the small pot that the violet had been growing in into the new pot and packed potting mix around it. This mix was pretty dry and very fluffy and light so I could pack it tightly around the old pot.
I carefully removed the old pot and what I ended up with was an opening in the soil that was the exact size of the violet’s root ball.
All I had to do to replant the violet was to drop it into the opening in the soil, tap the pot of few times on the table and water it from the top until water drained from the holes in the bottom. The tapping and watering from the top made sure that there was good contact between the root ball and the new soil.
This is the greatest trick for up-potting violets. It produces minimal mess for me and minimal stress for the african violet. It would work well with other gesneriads (i.e. gloxinias and streptocarpus), all of which can be a little difficult to transplant. I also think it would make transplanting cactus and other spiny plants a lot easier.
I can’t believe I’d never learned this trick in all the years I’ve been growing houseplants. I’m just glad I learned it now and I’m certain I’ll be using it a lot in the future.