Repotting a Giant

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The big plant in its old pot,
its leaves bunched together.

How do you repot a plant that’s as tall as you are? With planning and with help.

Anthurium schottianum is a large-leaf plant that I have grown on the back porch for about three years. It’s so large, in fact, that it nearly touched the ceiling. As the stem grew taller, I wrapped it in sphagnum moss and surrounded that with a plastic container so the roots would not dry out as they emerged. This was only a temporary Band-Aid – a trick that Steve Nock taught me. When roots emerge on self-heading anthuriums and philodendrons, they will harden off and fail to function if there is no medium to protect them.

 So when this stunning plant finally reached 5-feet six-inches tall from soil to ceiling, I decided to tackle the problem of repotting.

 We are not talking a small pot.

 To begin, I tied up all of the leaves. The largest heart-shaped blade measured 38 inches by 27 inches at its widest part, so I used a nylon rope to lasso the gang. I put an old shower curtain liner on the back porch so the mess would be easy to clean.

 Next, I took a long butcher knife and ran it around the pot, between the soil and the container to make

Moss and old container
promote new roots.

sure the root ball was not stuck to the sides. I had not watered it for a few days so I could more easily handle the weight. Then two of us lowered the potted plant to the ground and removed the container as well as the “temporary” pot around the top of the stem.

Meanwhile, in a big washtub, I combined ProMix (a potting medium), Perlite and pine bark mulch. The ration was about 2:1:2. Using an old cooking pot, I scooped plenty into the bottom of the new container where I had placed large pieces of broken crockery to secure drainage. Then two of us lifted the plant into its new home. As Sandy steadied the plant in the center, I filled around the root ball with the new soil. I had to blend one more tub of soil to complete the job.

I removed an old bottom leaf and then, using a length of green twistee wire, tied up the petioles to a stake to properly display the leaves.

Anthurium schottianum now looks quite regal.

You might think that the job was done. Wrong. Just outside the screened back porch where my Anthurium lives are lots of shell gingers. Since I noticed scale beginning to appear on an older leaf, I cut down almost all the gingers so more air could circulate around my prize plant.

That’s what happens in a garden – you do one thing and it leads to another. But with a plant such as this Anthurium, the effort is worth it!