There are some obvious signs that indicate when it’s time to repot a tree – like when the water fails to percolate or when a pot breaks.
Other signs are more subtle. When there’s a significant change in the amount of time it takes for a tree to dry out, for instance, it might be time to take a closer look.
This is often the case with my Yaupon holly. In recent weeks, the tree has been drying out within hours of the last watering.
Yesterday I found that the soil didn’t give at all when pressed firmly and digging down I saw that the akadama had broken down leaving nothing but brown dust and fine roots. I decided to repot.
Yaupon holly out of the pot
Had I checked underneath the pot to see if there were roots clogging the drainage holes, I would have seen none.
Although it’s often said that this is a good measure of whether or not a tree needs repotting, I’ve found it to be misleading as often as it is helpful. Here’s what the bottom of the holly’s rootball looked like after removing it from the pot.
Roots everywhere except for the drainage holes
It appears that the holly roots prefer moist areas to dry areas as roots refused to grow above the drainage holes. And it’s not as if the tree doesn’t have many fine roots. Here’s what the bottom of the rootball looked like after removing about 1/4″ of soil.
Lots of fine roots
I can’t say I’m surprised by what I found as I typically repot the tree every year. But just because I typically repot a tree every year doesn’t mean that I’ll automatically repot it. What it means is that I’ll check to see if it needs repotting every year and make a decision based on what I see.
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