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Don Kinzler, Published January 17 2014

Fielding questions

Q I received a jade plant 6 months ago that is tree-like as you mentioned in a recent column. Because it’s in heavy soil and there are no drainage holes in the 2-gallon pot, I think I should repot it.

I’ve read online that soils available for succulents aren’t the best, because they contain too much peat and can mold. Some sites recommend using 1/3 sifted good-quality potting soil (such as Miracle-Gro), 1/3 construction-grade sand and 1/3 Perlite. I’m afraid to repot as I don’t want to lose this plant – it has sentimental value.

– Sue Haugen, Fargo

A Many plants have special meaning if passed along from a relative or parent, and I can appreciate your hesitation. If your jade plant is growing OK now, wait until March to repot. Plants get spring fever, and increasing day length stimulates growth in indoor plants. It’s a logical time to repot prior to new spring growth.

Jade plants can live quite happily for years while root-bound, but pots without drainage are risky because water can accumulate triggering root rot. A 2-gallon pot is probably large enough, but if not, increase diameter by only about 2 inches. Old-fashioned clay pots still breathe best.

The heavy soil may look bad, but often jade plants do great in soil that appears brick-like. Soils packaged for succulents have variable success depending on brand and ingredients. The caution about too much peat, which retains water, is legitimate for jade plants.

I like the recipe you mention. When repotting the jade, after removal from the pot, don’t “bare-root” the plant, but carefully remove some of the soil at the top of the rootball, and along the sides and bottom, leaving the center soil intact.

Place a little soil in the bottom of the new pot, hold the plant in place, and fill in around the sides and top. Then water thoroughly. Because the plant is special, please consider starting new cuttings. If anything happens, cuttings are the same as the original, just with new roots.

Q Thanks, Don, for the free geraniums. I refer to your October column about planting cuttings from summer geraniums that are about to be tossed out. You caught me just in time. All cuttings except one have grown successfully. The smallest of the cuttings in the pictures are second plantings from a very fast-growing plant.

– Butch Fangsrud, Moorhead

A Thanks for passing along a success story. Be aware however, that plant propagation is addictive. Your continued wintertime successful growing of the cuttings shows you are providing good direct light either from a sunny window or under artificial light. In early March, geraniums can be pinched back to remove any leggy winter growth, which encourages new “breaks” along the lower stem.

Don Kinzler, a lifelong gardener, worked as an NDSU Extension horticulturist and owned Kinzler’s Greenhouse in Fargo. Readers can reach him at forumgrowingtogether@hotmail.com.