When and How to Repot Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra elatior)

Cast iron plants are hardy houseplants known for their ability to survive varying conditions and even a bit of neglect. However, they still need a bit of care to remain healthy. Repotting cast iron plants once every three to four years will provide the plants with the room they need to grow and thrive.

When and How to Repot Cast Iron Plants (Aspidistra elatior)

When and How to Repot Cast Iron Plants: The Essentials

You should repot your cast iron plant about once every three to four years. The spring is the best time to repot, but summer also works. Select a container that is a few inches larger than the original, and fill it with a fresh, well-draining potting mix. Inspect your plant’s roots for any signs of disease and place the plant in its new home.

Reasons to Repot Cast Iron Plants

Since repotting can stress your cast iron plant, you should only complete this process when it’s necessary. The following are all reasons why you may need to give your plant a new home.

1) It’s Outgrown Its Current Container

While cast iron plants grow pretty slowly, they’ll eventually become too large for their original pot. If you don’t bump your plant up into a bigger home, the roots will eventually run out of room to grow and eventually become rootbound.

Rootbound plants experience extra stress and may become stunted or discolored.

So, how do you tell if your plant needs a bigger container?

First, pick up your planter and see if any roots are growing out of the drainage holes. If you spot roots creeping their way out, you should definitely repot your plant.

You can also look for less obvious signs like stagnant growth and yellowing leaves.

2) It’s Developed Root Rot

Overwatering and/or poorly draining soils can lead to a fungal condition known as root rot. When cast iron plants become infected by one of these fungi, their roots become soft and unable to take up water and nutrients.

Fortunately, your plant can bounce back from root rot. But, it may need some help.

If you notice your plants’ roots are infected, repotting the plant in fresh potting soil will give it a chance to recover. You can also trim off portions of infected roots when you remove the plant for repotting.

3) The Plant Has Yellow Leaves

Yellow leaves can indicate overwatering, underwatering, a lack of nutrients, and overall plant stress. While repotting may not solve all of these issues, it can help with quite a few!

Giving your plant fresh potting soil and a bit more room to grow will help eliminate some of the stress it may be experiencing. Therefore, repotting can help remedy the issues causing yellowing leaves.

How Often Do You Need to Repot Cast Iron Plants?

How Often Do You Need to Repot Cast Iron Plants?

Cast iron plants grow pretty slowly, so you’ll only need to repot them about once every three years or so.

However, you may need to repot your plant more often if it develops disease or outgrows its current home.

Best Times of Year to Repot Cast Iron Plants

The best time of the year to repot cast iron plants is the early spring when plants have just resumed rapid growth. February and March are good options. And repotting your plants during this time can help you fulfill your springtime desire to get back into gardening tasks.

If the spring doesn’t work out, you can also repot your plant during the early summer.

The Best Soil Mix for Repotting Cast Iron Plants

Cast iron plants like a well-draining and well-aerated potting mix that can also hold a bit of moisture. Many pre-mixed potting mixes designed for houseplants can work well.

If you find the soil mix isn’t draining as well as you’d like, you can mix in some extra perlite or sand to increase drainage.

Necessary Tools for Repotting Cast Iron Plants

You won’t need many special tools for repotting a cast iron plant, just the following:

  • A well-draining potting mix
  • A container that is a few inches larger than the original
  • A towel, sheet, or piece of newspaper to collect any mess
  • A pair of scissors

Container Considerations

The new container should be just a few inches larger than your plant’s current container. If you choose a container that is too large, the excess soil can remain wet and lead to issues. And, containers that are too small can lead to rootbound plants.

Cast iron plants are happy in almost any type of container, including terra cotta, glazed ceramic, and plastic. However, you will need to water your cast iron plants in terracotta plants more often. No matter what type of container you choose, make sure it contains drainage holes in the bottom.

How to Repot Your Cast Iron Plant

How to Repot Your Cast Iron Plant

Once you’ve gathered the necessary materials, complete the following steps to repot your cast iron plant.

  1. Choose a container that is a couple of inches larger than the original pot. Make sure it has drainage holes in the bottom.
  2. Carefully remove the cast iron plant from its original pot. If it’s stuck, use a butter knife or similar object to loosen the soil from the planter’s sides.
  3. Put the root ball on a towel or piece of newspaper and gently shake off any loose soil.
  4. Inspect the roots. If you notice any rotten or discolored pieces, trim them off with the scissors and discard them.
  5. Add water to the new potting mix, so it is moist but not wet, then fill the new pot about halfway full.
  6. Place the cast iron plant in the new pot and add soil to fill in the remaining empty space.
  7. Water well.

Caring for Your Cast Iron Plant After Repotting

Repotting can stress your plant, so don’t worry if your cast iron plant looks a little sad in the days after repotting. As long as you provide the right environment and care, your plant should bounce back within a few days.

Remember to keep the soil moist but not wet. That means watering your plant about every week or so.

You should also place the newly repotted plant somewhere warm and free from drafts. And make sure the plant receives at least a few hours of indirect light each day.

Frequently Asked Questions:

What Is the Best Type of Pot for a Cast Iron Plant?

Cast iron plants can grow well in ceramic, plastic, and terra cotta pots. You should choose a pot that is a few inches larger than the plant’s root ball and make sure it has drainage holes.

Should I Fertilize My Cast Iron Plant After Repotting?

You don’t need to fertilize your cast iron plant immediately after you repot it. Many potting mixes contain some nutrients that will sustain your plant for a few months. Even if your soil mix contains no nutrients, you do not need to apply fertilizer for the first few months.

Why Is My Cast Iron Plant Wilted After Repotting?

Moving your plant to a new pot can be a stressful process—even if you do everything right! Your plant may be limp or wilted in the days following repotting. Just provide your plant with moist soil and a warm environment to help it recover.

Repotting Cast Iron Plants – Wrapping Up

Repotting your cast iron plant every few years will help keep it healthy and provide it with space to expand. Always use a well-draining potting mix and a container that is just a few inches larger than the original.

For more, see our in-depth guide on where to position cast iron plants for optimal care and feng shui benefits, whether cast iron plants are pet-friendly, and the amazing uses and benefits of cast iron plants.

Contributing Editor | briana@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Briana holds a B.S. in Plant Sciences from Penn State University. She manages a small market garden where she grows vegetables and herbs. She also enjoys growing flowers and houseplants at home.

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