The other day I bought a brand new bag of potting mix and with some warm weather happily potted up a new houseplant I had purchased in the wonderful sunshine streaming on my back porch. The smell of a freshly opened bag of potting mix makes any gardener's heart begin to sing.
It's been a long dark winter and our existing houseplants could use a little TLC, mine included. April is a great time to take advantage of those warmer temperatures and repot houseplants and provide them some fresh potting mix or move them up into larger pots. During the winter months we also pull back on fertilizing our houseplants as growth is slowed with shorter days, but we want to restart fertilization of our houseplants as they resume more regular growth with the lengthening days. Houseplants don't need to be fertilized more than about once per month at most depending on growth and health.
You know it's time to repot your houseplants when roots have begun to grow out the drainage holes, your plants are wilting more often between waterings, or growth is slowed/leaves are smaller then normal. I was looking at one of my houseplants this morning before work and the potting mix has become dull and doesn't hold water well anymore and to me is a sign that it's time to repot to improve the health of my plants. When repotting, inspect the root systems for any damage and then gently knock off some of the old potting mix and depending on how big the plant is you may need to consider potting it up into a larger container or if not, feel free to utilize the existing container but make sure to dump out the old potting mix and replace with new good quality potting mix. When selecting potting mixes avoid the really cheap "stuff" – the saying you get what you pay for is true with potting mixes.
Take the time to inspect your plants for any signs of insect issues and remove any dead or yellowing foliage. If you plan to eventually place them outside for summer, select areas that are not in direct sunlight. A north exposure or under a tree is best for our houseplants. Make sure to not place them outside till all threat of frost is past and slowly introduce them to their new location by placing them outside a few hours each day and gradually extending the length of time they are outdoors. Usually within 1-2 weeks your houseplants will be adjusted to the new outdoor location.
For more information on houseplants visit http://extension.illinois.edu/houseplants/default.cfm or contact your local Extension office for more information.