Monday, February 26, 2024

When to repot after removing leaves

Question:  I have many miniature violets that I purchased from you last year, and they could use a little repotting.  I’ve improved their appearance by removing the lower leaves that were no longer attractive and was wondering at what point can I cover this bare stem/trunk with soil?  Can I cover the bare stem with soil as soon as I remove the leaves, or is there a waiting period for the stem to callous over from having the leaves pinched off before I move the soil line up to cover the area?

Answer:  Personally, we don’t bother to wait for the bare neck to callous.  We remove whatever leaves need to be removed and then repot them immediately.  Of course, that doesn’t make it a better way, just an easier one.  As with any open wound, it’s best to avoid exposing it to infection.  The callous is just nature’s idea of a bandage.  It probably is better to let the neck callous before repotting, to avoid exposure to harmful bacteria or disease borne in the potting soil.

Our experience has been that this isn’t necessary.  We rarely, if ever, have any problems by repotting immediately.  The soil we use, like most of today’s soilless mixes, is relatively sterile and free of anything that is likely to harm the plant.  Back in the days when growers used topsoil in their mixes (or worse, something out of the backyard), sterilization was a real necessity and soil-borne disease more prevalent.  The most important thing is that your violets are repotted regularly, when they need to be.  If waiting for the neck to callous makes it more likely to postpone (or forget) repotting, your plant’s no better off.  Besides, by the time a good callous has formed, there may be another leaf or two that needs to be removed!

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