Why repot a brand new plant?

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

I really try to avoid big box stores, especially for plants. Most are treated with pretty bad pesticides, and many are mislabeled. But I made an exception for an exceptionally beautiful crested Euphorbia.

Trapped! Rocks and even label are glued in place.

Often called cacti, euphorbias are not cacti, but rather, well, they are euphorbias! They are in an entirely different family from cacti, though are similar in their use of succulence to retain water and survive in dry environments.

This euphorbia is called "crested" due to a deformity known as fasciation. The crest is the wonderfully flattened and twisted part on top that looks like a folded paper fan. It's grafted onto the stem. But I'll get to my point: this individual came from the store in an attractive pot, but one with not a single drainage hole in the bottom. This is a death sentence to a plant that is adapted to live in arid conditions because any water it receives will have nowhere to go; it will sit in the pot and the poor euphorbia's roots will rot in no time.

To make matters worse, the decorative pebbles on the surface were glued very thoroughly to each other. It makes shipping easier I am sure, but it's not nice. Using a small, flat-bladed screwdriver, I began prying off the pebbles along the pot's edge. After a few times around the pot, the entire assembly—plant and glued pebble mass—began to loosen. By gently lifting the whole thing up a bit, I used a pliers to break off large chunks of pebbles until the plant was freed. Just be careful around the base. You don't want to injure the stem.

Tools for plant freedom: Small screwdriver and pliers

Next step: Find a well-draining pot and transplant my new friend using a cactus soil mix containing lots of sand.

Freedom! Next up, a pot with drainage and cactus soil.

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