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Transitioning Your Houseplants from Sphagnum Moss to Soil

Transitioning Your Houseplants from Sphagnum Moss to Soil

You've got a new houseplant that arrived fully rooted in sphagnum moss or you've had one growing in moss for a while and you're thinking about a change. Whether you're afraid of using moss as a substrate or just wanting to switch things up, moving your plant from moss to soil can be done smoothly. Here's a simple guide to help you through the process.

1. Assess Your Plant's Health: Before propagating or replanting, take a moment to check up on your plant and make sure it's healthy and thriving. If you notice any signs of distress or disease, it's best to address those issues before attempting to transition it to a new medium.

2. Choose the Right Soil Mix: In general for tropical houseplants, opt for a well-draining potting mix. Look for mixes that contain ingredients like perlite, bark, coconut coir, and/or peat moss to provide the ideal balance of moisture retention and aeration. Not all soils are created equal and every plant species requires different needs. For example, alocasia typically need a soil mix that holds more water and monstera prefer a chunkier mix. 

3. Prepare Your New Pot: Select a pot that's 1-2 sizes larger than your plant's current one to allow for root growth. Make sure it has drainage holes to prevent waterlogged soil. The type of material your pot is made of will affect how quickly the soil will dry. Terracotta is very porous and will dry your soil out faster than a plastic pot will.

4. Gently Remove Your Plant from the Moss: Carefully lift your plant out of its current pot, taking care not to damage the roots. If the moss is tightly packed around the roots, soak the rootball in lukewarm water for 5 min first. This will allow the moss to expand and it will be easier to remove. Work carefully by gently teasing the roots from the root tips away from the moss ball. Alternate between pulling the roots and remove strands of sphagnum moss. You will lose some secondary roots during this process. If your plant is root bound, be patient!

5. Inspect the Roots: Take a moment to inspect the roots for any signs of damage or rot. Trim away any dead, black or mushy roots with clean scissors or pruning shears. Healthy roots should be firm on most plant types. Some plants such as schismatoglottis sp or oxalis sp have very fine, hair-like healthy roots. Depending on the type of plant, the healthy roots may be white, red, brown, yellow or green.

6. Introduce Your Plant to Its New Home: Place a layer of fresh potting mix at the bottom of the new pot, ensuring it's enough to support the plant at its previous depth. Nestle your plant into the soil, making sure it's centered and stable. Gently backfill the pot with more soil, pressing it down lightly around the roots to eliminate air pockets. Take care not to plant too deeply. Don't cover the crown or growth point of the plant with soil.

7. Water and Settle In: Give your newly potted plant a good soak with lukewarm water to help settle the soil around the roots. Allow any excess water to drain away before placing the pot in its designated spot. Keep an eye on your plant over the next few days, ensuring it's adjusting well to its new environment. You may place the plant in a propagation dome/box for added humidity to make the transition easier.

8. Monitor and Care: Once your plant has settled into its new soil home, continue to monitor its growth and well-being. Adjust your watering routine as needed, keeping in mind that soil may dry out faster than sphagnum moss. Provide adequate light, humidity, and occasional fertilization to support healthy growth.

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