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Updated: Sep 18, 2023

Rootbound plant that needs to be repotted
Rootbound houseplant that needs to be repotted

Imagine your plants as if they were babies, nurtured in their nursery pots just like they were in the womb.

When is it time to repot?

There comes a time when babies must leave their wombs, and the same principle applies to our botanical offspring or plant babies. Although they may thrive in their initial nursery pots for years, eventually they must be repotted or transplanted to larger containers. Typically, it's recommended to choose a pot that's around 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot size.

  1. The roots are extending out through the drainage hole(s) located at the base of the nursery pot or planter. This may be a sign of a root-bound plant. As roots expand, they gradually displace the soil within the container, potentially occupying more room than the soil volume itself. The emergence of visible roots at the soil's surface or bottom of the nursery pot serves as an indicator that your plant is nearing, if not already experiencing, a root-bound condition. You may also see signs of yellowing or wilting leaves.

  2. The plant's foliage is more than double the size of its nursery pot.

  3. The plant is extremely top-heavy, and may topple over easily.

  4. The plant's potting mix becomes compact and is drying out more quickly than before requiring more frequent waterings. Soil compaction can lead to inefficiencies or root death and could be due to poor soil/substrate.

Make sure to select the right time. The best time to repot a plant is during its active growing season, typically in spring or summer. This gives the plant a chance to recover quickly.

What is soil compaction?

Soil Compaction Illustration
Insufficient soil pore space resulting in limited infiltration of water and air into the soil profile. Poses severe challenges for root growth and development

Soil compaction occurs when soil particles are pressed together, reducing pore space between them. It becomes so compact that it can suffocate the roots due to lack of oxygen. You can aerate the soil using the chopstick method, but when the soil becomes too dense and compact, it's best to repot and replace it with a sustainable substrate that will not suffer from soil compaction.

We aren't dirtbags

Orgamic Sustainable Coconut Coir Potting Substrate Mix
Earth's Coir Organic Chunky Potting Media

With over a decade of experience in the horticulture industry, I gained a profound understanding of the significance of utilizing an aerated and organic potting medium.

Aroids, in particular, need an aerated potting medium. Most aroids like Philodendrons, Monsteras, and Anthuriums are epiphytic and not terrestrial, so they grow and anchor themselves on trees having exposed roots with little to no soil.

Most store-bought potting mix is mainly peat-based and becomes compact, suffocating the roots and not allowing for even distribution of water. Peat moss is not considered a renewable source, and many store-bought mixes have added junk and fillers like plastic.

Our potting medium is organic, renewable, and naturally made from coconut coir, horticulture charcoal, and perlite. It's essentially a "soil-less" medium. Coconut coir comes from the coconut's husk.

In addition to its renewable nature, coconut coir offers several advantages. It facilitates aeration and creates an optimal setting for plant roots, ensuring they receive appropriate levels of water, air, and nutrients. Furthermore, it provides ample room for roots to thrive and extend their growth.

Perlite is a core ingredient for epiphytes in that it dramatically boosts the ability of plants to produce the healthiest root system possible. It helps with aeration and allows root systems to function more efficiently; nutrients are accessed in more significant quantities and help avoid root rot.

What you will need

Potting Supplies to repot a plant
  • A potting mat or surface you can wipe clean

  • Our sustainable coconut coir base potting media 'Earth's Coir'

  • Gloves, if you're handling a plant with spines such as a cactus

  • A watering can or sink faucet

  • Pruners to cut any dead roots or foliage

  • The nursery pot you will be potting into

You may also need:

  • Plant stake or moss pole if your plant has gotten top-heavy or needs support

  • A large spoon or a hand shovel/scoop (or just use your hands)

Repotting steps

Here are the ideal steps for repotting Philodendrons, Monsteras, Alocasias, Anthuriums, succulents, and more:

1. Remove the plant from its current nursery pot.

Turn the pot upside down while supporting the base of the plant or tilt your plant sideways, remember to hold it by the stems or leaves, be careful to not break any of the foliage or stem. Next, tap the bottom of the nursery pot until the plant slides out. Occasionally, a slight pull on the stem base might be necessary to assist in this process. If the plant is firmly held, tap the pot repeatedly to gradually loosen its grip.

2. Lightly Loosen the roots

Gently disentangle the plant's roots using your hands if you notice the roots are root bound. If your plant is root bound—the roots are growing in very tight circles around the base of the plant—unbind the roots as best you can and give them a trim. You can prune off any threadlike roots that are extra long, just make sure to leave the thicker roots at the base of the foliage.

Inspect your roots! Trim any brown, mushy, or damaged roots with clean scissors or pruning shears (make sure to disinfect with alochol after each use.) Do not remove all the existing soil or rinse the roots.

3. Remove most old potting mix

Eliminate approximately one-third of the old potting mix from the nursery pot. As your plant has grown, it may have depleted some or all of the nutrients in the existing mix. Therefore, providing it with a fresh potting mix is ideal.

4. Add our sustainable coconut coir potting media 'Earth's Coir'

Hold your empty nursery pot down and pour a layer of fresh potting substrate into the empty planter. Don't pack it too tight, but make sure it's not too loose either.

5. Add your plant to your new (or repurposed) nursery pot

Make sure the new nursery pot has drainage holes to prevent overwatering. If you are repurposing an old nursery pot, make sure that it's clean and disinfected.

Place your plant onto the newly added layer of substrate within the nursery pot, ensuring it's positioned at the center. Check that the top of the root ball is about a half inch below the rim of the new pot. Be sure not to pack too much into the planter: you want the roots to have space to breathe.

6. Water

Even out the potting media and water all around! Water the plant thoroughly until you see water draining out of the bottom. This helps settle the soil and ensures the roots make good contact with the new mix.

7. Aftercare: Place the repotted plant in a location that suits its light and temperature needs. Avoid direct sunlight for a few days to reduce stress. Resume regular care routine, including watering as needed. Note that a freshly repotted plant does not need to be fed liquid fertilizer, but you can add a slow-release fertilizer before watering.

Keep in mind, different plants have different repotting and watering needs, so be sure to research the specific requirements of your plant type before beginning the process (our instructions are for indoor plants, annuals and perennials for example have different potting needs. Repotting not only allows your plants to grow healthy, but also refreshes the soil nutrients, promoting their overall well-being.

Updated: Oct 7, 2023

The Alocasia genus encompasses some of the most spectacular and rare foliage within the Aroid family. Its mesmerizing corrugated leaves and mostly dark foliage with deep veneition are sculptural works of art. Some of our shop rare staples are the Alocasia cuprea, Alocasia 'Dragon Scale', Alocasia 'Black Velvet,' and Alocasia 'Dragon's Breath.'

Our shop favorites are the variegated varieties! The intricate variegation patterns on Alocasia leaves, a remarkable manifestation of epigenetic control and cellular differentiation, not only serve adaptive purposes but also present themselves as living works of art, akin to a painter's palette that captivates both biologists and aesthetes alike.

From a scientific standpoint, variegation in plants such as Alocasias can be explained through a variety of factors. Some types of variegation are a result of cell mutations or epigenetic control, where DNA methylation or histone modification leads to the selective expression or suppression of genes that control pigment production in specific cell populations.

Their captivating patterns can be seen as nature's own compositions, akin to abstract paintings that hold their viewer's attention. For some, the experience of observing such naturally occurring designs may even evoke a sense of awe or wonder, much like one might experience in an art gallery.

Thus, the aesthetics of variegated Alocasias offer a harmonious blend of science and art, inviting us to appreciate the complexities of biology through a lens of aesthetic admiration. which you can shop for our Alocasias here.

However, Alocasia doesn't come without drama! So what's the drama? Alocasia can be prone to foliage discoloration, droopy foliage, and sometimes pest pressures. They can also go dormant in the winter, prompting people to throw them out thinking they are dead. This sounds overwhelming, but it's not if you follow my tips and tricks. I've learned over the last decade from killing plenty of Alocasias in my home and commercially, how to get them to thrive. If properly cared for, Alocasias can be very rewarding!

Where do Alocasias originate from?

Alocasias are known to grow covered under tree canopies where they aren't exposed to direct sunlight. They are endemic to tropical rainforests in Southeast Asia.

There are over 100 known species. Some species are compact and enjoyed today as indoor plants, while others are large, regal, and widely used in landscapes across Florida and warmer regions.

Where should I keep my Alocasia and how much light does it need?

Alocasias should be placed in a medium to bright location but out of direct sun. Darker Alocasias like Alocasia cuprea need more shade since the leaves can burn or discolor if placed in direct sunlight.

Make sure to keep them away from drafts and do not place them in front of an AC/heater vent.

I keep my Alocasia 'Dragon's Breath' on our kitchen counter and my Alocasia cuprea in the bathroom where I have windows, and it gets lots of humidity.

Some people put them in domes, cloches, terrariums, near a humidifier, or place them on humidity trays (pebbles submerged in a few inches of water). This isn't necessary but can help your Alocasia thrive if it's drying out too much.

How often should I water?

Alocasias shouldn't be watered based on a schedule but their environment. An alocasia kept near a bright window in a hot room, or a lanai will need to be watered more often than one in a colder room. Water your Alocasia when the top layer of the potting medium has dried. Unlike other Aroids, they prefer to be a kept moist (she's a thirsty one!) However, do not overwater, as they can be prone to root rot. Alternatively, do not let it dry out completely, or it can stress the plant, which could lead to pest pressures and droopy leaves.

Make sure to clean the leaves when you water; the front and back of the leaves!

Yes, they are high-maintenance drama queens! If all of this stresses you out, try a self-watering pot and moisture meter for precision.

Humidity is crucial for Alocasias. They need above average humidity (60%+). Alocasia leaves can wrinkle or dry, and they can be prone to spider mites if the air is too dry.

Should I fertilize?

Yes, Alocasias benefit from fertilization. You can fertilize throughout spring and summer and cut back in the fall as the days get shorter (unless you have greenhouse conditions.)

I recommend new plant parents start with a slow-release fertilizer, and experienced enthusiasts can use a slow-release and houseplant fertilizer. Remember to follow the manufacturer's instructions and less is more!

Do I need to repot?

Most plants can go months or a year without repotting. However, many Alocasias are grown in a heavier mix and can be repotted after being acclimated at home. Many will come with a nursery mesh plug that can be removed during repotting. Make sure to loosen the soil and use an airy potting medium that allows the water to drain correctly. We have an excellent "soilless potting medium," or you can make your own using Coco Coir, Perlite, Orchid Bark, Horticultural Charcoal, and add Rice Hulls if you have them.

Why are my Alocasia leaves droopy and damaged?

Some Alocasia varieties ship better than others. Alocasia Dragon Scale ships well, for example. Alocasia Silver Dragon can suffer some shipping stress, resulting in droopy leaves upon delivery.

Check the potting medium; if it's very dry, give it a deep soak in its nursery pot. Water all around the pot, not just in one area, and make sure to let all of the water drain out completely—place in a bright spot where it's not exposed to direct sun.

If your plant's leaves begin to droop after being in your care for some time, move it closer to a light source and make sure that water is reaching the roots. Sometimes if the soil becomes too compact, it's not allowing the roots to receive water. You can use a chopstick to aerate the soil or repot.

Make sure to check for pests, specifically spider mites. You can use your phone's magnifier because sometimes they can be invisible to the naked eye. Webbing around the plant's sinus is also a sign of mites. If you have spider mites, you will most likely have further leaf damage, not just droopy leaves.

Why are my Alocasia leaves yellow?

There are many reasons why your leaves are yellowing. One of the most common reasons is watering. It could be too little water, but chances are you are overwatering.

Alocasia leaves also turn yellow if they're rootbound and possibly growing too big for their pot.

Yellowing leaves in ring form could signal bigger issues like a fungal infection that can be treated with a fungicide.

My Alocasia has dropped all of its leaves; is it dead?

No, your Alocasia is not dead unless you have major root damage. Alocasias drop their leaves when stressed or not receiving optimal care.

In the winter, your Alocasia may also drop all of its leaves, even indoors

Both smaller plants shown lost all of their leaves and grew back two new baby leaves a few weeks ago as the days got warmer. New leaf growth will usually come from the stem of another leaf.

Your Alocasia will grow back when exposed to light and warmth. If you are willing to have pots laying around with no leaves and just roots, you will be pleasantly surprised one day when a new baby leaf pops right out!

Not all alocasias go dormant, if you're providing your plant enough light, humidity, and warmth it will continue to grow even if it's artificial (grow lights, humidifier, etc.)

Check out the quick care guide below for more tips.

Alocasia Quick Guide:

Easy-Care Index: Moderate to difficult

Plant Parent Index: Experienced enthusiasts, collectors

Humidity Index: High; 60%+ (average 70%)

Water: Water when the potting medium has dried. Do not keep wet, but do not let dry out completely

Potting Medium: Airy soilless potting medium; coconut coir, bark, perlite

Fertilize: Spring through summer. Slow-release and/or houseplant fertilizer per manufacturer's instructions

Care Hack/Tools: Moisture meter, self-watering pot, humidifier

Updated: Aug 13, 2023

Most people would think you were crazy if you told them you spent $10k on a houseplant, but what if it's a rare exotic houseplant? Does that make it any more reasonable?

Collecting rare plants is a passion and a thrill that can't be rationalized or explained. Some have compared it to collecting the hottest new sneakers. Sellers have traded up from sneakerheads to hoyaheads because they say it's more lucrative. Now you have people selling plants that know nothing about growing them commercially.

At this year's International Aroid Society Show at Fairchild Tropical Garden located in Miami, which I attended, several one-leaf cuttings sold for $200 - $1,000 depending on the species. A Philodendron Caramel Marble was selling for $13,000! I’ve been in the industry for years and have attended tradeshows all over the country and in Europe. This is the highest I have seen prices in 10 years! Some industry insiders believe prices will continue to rise, while many plantfluencers are talking about prices falling.

Rare plant collecting shouldn't be like fast fashion or the latest trend, though. It's a hobby that connects you with nature, brings a biophilic design into your home, and has many other benefits (mindfulness and air purification.) We need to consider that some rare plants are endangered; make sure you aren't purchasing a plant on the endangered list and that your plant is responsibly sourced or grown.

Some rare plants like the Monstera Albo Variegata (pictured above from our collection), native to Colombia and parts of Mexico, bring an exotic and lush look and feel into your surroundings that can't be matched. The Philodendron Florida Beauty with variegated lobed leaves are captivating. Both of these plants are pretty exclusive and expensive right now. The Aglaonema Pictum Tri-Color or Camouflage Plant (pictured above from @greenhousegirl94 collections) is breathtaking and helps you acknowledge how unique and adaptive nature truly is. And, the Philodendron Spiritus Santi is the crown jewel for collectors because of its elongated lobes and distinct features. You can shop these varieties here.

Rare plant collecting, particularly Aroids, has become a big trend, though. For some new collectors (don't dare compare it to old vs. new money), it is all about Instagram and having the latest and rarest species that aren't in mass production or come from TC (tissue culture.) Once the plant is mass-produced, they move on to something else. This is what happened with the Raven® ZZ. Ravens were in high demand when they were scarce; now, they are available at every big-box retailers and aren't as exclusive or in demand.

I developed the Trending Tropicals® brand to bring rare plants to mass retailers but didn't realize it would create such a frenzy in the plant community. The recent Thai Constellation market test caused complete chaos in the pacific northwest. According to a PDS Scientist and Microbiome, store workers were harassed by hundreds of people trying to get this limited edition variety.

I've done extensive research during new plant introductions, from in-home studies to in-store shop along, market surveys, and test-and-learns, to determine price elasticity based on demand.

Many people ask why rare plant prices are so high yet so affordable at big-box retailers. Established growers have economies of scale and access to faster propagation methods such as tissue culture.

Retailers play the most significant role when it comes to pricing. They want to price-match their competitors across the street and keep prices low. Retailers also have sales and consumer insights that inform the ceiling price for a houseplant. A collector may walk into an independent shop and pay upwards of $500 for a truly rare plant. Big box retailers know their average consumer will not pay that, and once plants are massed produced, they aren't rare any longer. Keep in mind the grower does not set the price (they make recommendations based on margins); the retailer does. Retailers have a lot of leverage! You will find if you purchase directly from a large grower, pricing is set higher than big box store prices.

Plants also became available via e-commerce over the last few years. This gave wholesalers direct access to consumers. They disrupted the supply chain and retail process and started selling direct. With greater access to plants, many novices, enthusiasts, and seasoned plant people started selling plants as well.

During the lockdown, people wanted to bring nature in and became obsessed with plants. They had an insatiable demand for houseplants. Growers couldn’t keep up.

Many of those increased prices resulted from “plant flippers” buying up the inventory and reselling. These prices weren’t reflective of the actual product cost, and now that supply has increased, flippers have less opportunity because consumers have greater access to plants.

Also, you may have purchased a rare plant, not in mass production and the small grower's pricing is very different when purchasing and buying small quantities of a rare plant. Once that plant becomes readily available and mass-produced, material cost also decreases (while labor may not.) Contract growers or small sellers don’t have economies of scale or retail contracts, so not everyone is price gouging; they don’t have the same cost structure.

I interviewed Gretchen Mason, who runs @greenhousegirl94 on Instagram, and worked at a greenhouse for years. During the pandemic, Gretchen was working at Merrifield Garden Center, a family-owned and operated, full-service garden center and nursery.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): How long did you work for Merrifield?

Greenhousegirl94 (Gretchen):

I worked in the tropical greenhouse for a little over four years. It’s a 20,000 square foot

full-service greenhouse that stocks everything from basic foliage to seasonal specialty plants like Poinsettia and Mums. My responsibilities included assisting customers in making plant selections, unloading the delivery trucks, reconciling purchase orders with invoices, and caring for thousands of plants. We also created custom dish gardens and had a repotting service. Needless to say, we were always busy! Plant The Jungle (Damarys): Would you consider yourself a plant collector? If so, how many plants do you own, and how long have you been collecting?

Greenhousegirl94 (Gretchen):

I purchased my first houseplant in fifth grade, which was a very long time ago! It was a Golden Pothos, and my second plant was a pink Fittonia. Ever since, I’ve had houseplants wherever I lived, including in my dimly lit freshman college dorm room, which was a bit challenging. I always had lots of plants but my collection grew by leaps and bounds during the years I worked in the greenhouse. It was just too tempting to not bring something home at the end of the day, especially with the generous employee discount we received! At one point, I had well over 200 plants but I’ve scaled back recently so it’s probably more in the area of 150 plants at the moment.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): What was it like working at the greenhouse during the pandemic?

Greenhousegirl94 (Gretchen):

Two words come to mind: challenging and frustrating. Demand already exceeded supply in the months prior to the pandemic. Not only could you not find houseplants at your local garden center but you also couldn't find them at big box stores, grocery stores, or discount stores. All those outlets were competing for plants and social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram added fuel to the fire. The minute someone posted a new “it” plant on social media, everyone just had to have it. Plants were flying out the door the minute we priced them. Life was good!

As most people already know everything pretty much came to a halt when the mandatory shutdown of businesses was announced in March 2020. People quarantined at home became restless; they wanted plants! The greenhouse is part of a garden center deemed essential by our state government so we stayed open throughout the pandemic. Many small growers shut down as did many commercial transport services. Suddenly, there weren’t plants available and often there weren’t trucks available to deliver them. After a few weeks, some growers opened back up with limited staff and limited availability. We were constantly getting “zeroed out,” which means plants that we ordered wouldn’t show up on the delivery truck. Add to that the fact that manufacturing and warehouses shut down, severely limiting the supply of soils, fertilizers, pots, and all hard goods. This was the hard part to explain to customers. Thanks to Amazon, Uber Eats, and other online shopping services, consumers are used to pushing a button and getting what they want. It just doesn’t work that way with plants. People couldn’t understand why we weren’t stocked to capacity and couldn’t deliver the “wish list” plants they desired. Many of my coworkers who had been in the business for 30 years plus said they never saw anything like it and don’t ever want to see anything Ike it again.

Plant The Jungle (Damarys): Did you find prices were at an all-time high? Have you noticed prices coming down or are they still higher than in previous years? I saw a recent Instagram story where a camouflage plant you wanted was around $65 and you were surprised it was so high.

Greenhousegirl94 (Gretchen):

Plant prices skyrocketed during the months that non-essential businesses were closed. I remember at one point we had nothing on our Pothos benches. No Golden, Marble Queen, Neon or Jade Pothos could be found. Those plants are our bread and butter because they’re easy to grow and usually a good value. We had to buy from alternate sources, paying more than double the normal wholesale price. At one point we had 4” Golden Pothos retailing for $24.99 when they had been $12.99 a few months earlier. They all sold within a week. Ten-inch hanging basket Boston Ferns jumped from $29.99 to $34.99 and $39.99 and were nowhere near as full as they had been a few months earlier. They disappeared the minute we unloaded them from the trucks. Many customers complained that we were “price gouging” but our markup was exactly what it had been in the past. Our prices to consumers were higher because we were paying more for the plants.

Personally, I don’t see plant prices across the board dropping to or below where they were pre-pandemic. There has been an overall shift in prices and, while I believe we have hit the top of the price curve I just don’t see prices dipping below pre-pandemic levels. As for that gorgeous Homalomena Camouflage plant, it was a plant I had admired for months but hadn’t seen available commercially. I was shocked when I saw a small 4” priced at $65! But after researching what similar plants are priced at on Etsy, I realized that price is not at all out of line! I was also able to determine that the wholesale cost of the plant was in line with the $65 retail price so I purchased one for my own collection. I’m a good salesperson, even when selling things to myself!

I agree with Gretchen that some plant prices have decreased slightly, and demand has dropped as people are traveling more now that pandemic travel restrictions have loosened. Plants showing up at retailers now have been in production for at least a year, if not longer, depending on the variety. Their material and labor cost were forecasted well before this demand drop. Retail prices, forecasts and production plans are done years in advance depending on plant grow times (these are living things, not packaged goods; you need time to grow and supply millions across the country). I also agree with Gretchen that while there may be a bit of a correction in pricing, we will not see pre-pandemic prices for some time.

I will be attending the IAS show this weekend at Fairchild Tropical Garden, along with probably thousands of collectors. It will be interesting to see if prices are lower than earlier this year during the peak demand period. Will collectors and enthusiasts still be inclined to pay thousands for a plant?

I hope enthusiasts and future collectors will make the distinction between collecting plants and sneakers or cards. Plants are living things!

Hopefully, if you do get into collecting rare plants, you become a good plant parent once you realize how rewarding and unique your new plant baby can be regardless of cost.


I visited IAS after writing this blog and witnessed that many of the prices have come down significantly and stabilized. There is a sizable drop in rare plant prices across the country. Thankfully, I have always been able to keep pricing fair but can now offer some of the lowest prices I've ever had in my shop.

Follow @plantthejungle for more and check out our collections before you go.

Thank you for reading and supporting a small Latina-owned business!

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