Repotting the elephant foot - Instructions and important information


The elephant foot is one of those plants for which you don't need a green thumb. Nevertheless, it also has to be repotted. There are a few things to consider.

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The elephant foot originally comes from Mexico and is one of our easy-care potted plants. It grows relatively slowly, especially in pot culture, it remains significantly smaller than in its home, where it can grow to a height of around nine meters. Therefore, it does not have to be repotted constantly. However, it may be necessary for the plant to move to a new planter. In this article, you will learn how to recognize that the elephant's foot needs to be repotted and how you can best do it.

How can you tell that the elephant's foot needs to be repotted?

There are some signs that it can be seen that a plant needs a new planter. To be on the safe side, first check the roots. If the roots already grow out of the drain hole, this is not necessarily an indication that a new plant pot is needed. You can only find out whether the roots completely fill the planter when the plant is lifted out of the pot. If the bale consists almost entirely of roots and hardly any substrate is recognizable, it is time for a new and much larger planter.

The substrate itself can also provide an indication of whether repotting is necessary. The earth often shows discoloration on the surface. If there is white crust on the substrate, it was probably watered with hard water or the elephant's foot got too much fertilizer.

Basically: The elephant's foot should be repotted about every three to four years.

When is the ideal time to repot?

Spring is the ideal time to repot the elephant's foot. It may also be necessary to replant the plant after purchase. If the roots are already pushing out of the planter on the sides, this is a clear sign that the plant pot appears too small. If the plants have been in the shop for too long, the substrate may already have been used up and the plant may suffer from stunted growth.

Select the right planter

Transplanting usually means not only replacing the substrate, but also renewing the planter. It is important to meet the demands of the plant. To ensure that the elephant's foot can spread out sufficiently, the plant pot must be at least 20 percent larger than the plant itself. It is also important that there are enough drainage holes in the base of the pot for the watering water. Matching the pouring behavior to the requirements of the elephant's foot is not always easy. Therefore, it can quickly lead to waterlogging if you overdo watering. A flat planter is therefore well suited for the elephant's foot, because it can prevent waterlogging. Original planters are of course also possible.

If the planter is in a saucer, the irrigation water must also be regularly removed from the saucer.

Be careful when stuffing

Before the elephant foot can move into the new planter, you have to pot it. You should do this carefully so that the roots are not damaged. It is not uncommon for the plant container to be completely penetrated by the root system. You can recognize this from the matting that shows on the bottom and sides of the vessel. It often pushes the root ball out of the plant pot.

In order to be able to remove the elephant's foot better from the planter, you can tilt the plant sideways. If the elephant's foot cannot be removed from the pot, you can help with a spoon on the bottom of the vessel. If this is also unsuccessful, it is advisable to destroy the plant pot instead of forcibly removing the plant and damaging the roots. Clay pots can be smashed. You will need secateurs for plastic pots. Cut carefully and ask a helper to pull the plant pot away after the cut.

Repotting the elephant foot - step by step instructions

© bilderhexchen /

Step 1:

After choosing the right planter, the elephant's foot is stuffed. Ideally, the plant can be easily removed. Otherwise you have to help with one of the methods described.

Step 2:

If the plant is freed from the old planter, the substrate should be removed completely. The substrate wears out after a few years and fungi and bacteria may also have settled there.

Step 3:

First fill some substrate in the plant pot and then insert the elephant foot. The substrate is now filled to the top of the pot and then pour the elephant's foot well so that it can recover from the strain of transplanting and can store enough moisture in its trunk.

In these cases, quick action is required

If there is waterlogging, you should act quickly. In this case, it does not matter whether the roots still have enough space in the plant pot. Repotting can be seen as a last resort. Often, however, this measure will also no longer help, namely when the tribe has already started to rot.

If there is waterlogging, you should try to completely clear the root ball of soil after filling and then dry it. To do this, place the elephant's foot in the sun for a few hours or use the lowest level of a hair dryer for drying. Now replace the substrate completely and pour on only slightly so that the elephant foot can recover from its excess moisture.

Repotting immediately is also necessary if the soil is over-fertilized or salted.

When shouldn't be repotted

The plant grows sparsely, although the roots still have enough room to move, you should not repot the plant. Repotting means stress and already ailing plants cannot tolerate this. Once the cause of the sparse growth has been found and remedied, the plant should first be able to regenerate itself and only be repotted when it is healthy and strong enough for it.