How to Repot a Houseplant — Our Step-by-Step Guide

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Do you need to repot your house plant, but you’re not sure how to do it? Read on for a step-by-step guide on how to repot a houseplant. With these simple steps, you’ll find that repotting is something you can master in no time!

Moving houses is not an easy feat. Packing up, hauling, unpacking, and arranging can leave house occupants tired, stressed, and drained. Although it may seem exciting, it’s not all happiness and bliss. In fact, people consistently identify moving as one of the top stressors in their lives.

As with people, when we rehome plants, they also become frazzled and stressed. When it’s your houseplant’s turn to move to a new home (pot), you might get anxious and worried too. Where do you start? What do you need to buy? Are there things you need to prepare or do before you repot? Here is our guide about how to repot a houseplant.

How to Know it’s Time to Repot a Houseplant

When to repot a houseplant

Just as your child needs a wardrobe change every few months, you’ll need to repot fast-growing young plants. Even older plants that grow at a slower pace may need repotting, but less often. For many plants, every few years or so will suffice.

Some plants, such as succulents, don’t have a complex root system, so it isn’t necessary to repot them regularly. Other plants, however, can have root systems that grow too big for their pots. You can tell this is happening when you see that your plants’ roots are too tight and crowded. For example, when they’ve grown to form a circular and dense system within the pot. Or the roots may spring out from the drainage holes or grow too big for soil to cover them. When any of these things happen, you can take it as a sign to repot your plant.

When Should You Repot a Houseplant?

Plants tend to rest over the wintertime, when growth may be close to or at zero. Therefore, it’s best to repot just before your plant’s growing season hits — some time during late winter or early spring. Then your plant can enjoy its new home as it grows and thrives during the warmer days.

Bigger is Not Always Better

When choosing the right plant pot, bigger is not necessarily better. If your plant is growing too big and its roots are getting crowded, then you’ll want a slightly bigger pot. Ideally, a new container will be just one size up from the current one. If it’s not outgrowing its pot, perhaps your plant only needs a new, high-quality potting mix.

Let’s go back to pot size and remember — don’t exaggerate and just go with a large pot. You don’t want to go extreme and go up three or four sizes. If the pot you choose is too big, you might overwater your plant and cause it to get root rot. Root rot (for those who are not familiar with the term) is the most common house plant killer. Overexposure in damp soil is typically its cause. When you overwater your soil, you can drown the plant and deprive it of oxygen.

How to Repot a Houseplant: Soil Considerations

When you think of soil, the first thing that comes to mind may be brown dirt. But did you know that there are actually three primary types of soil? The three kinds are sand, silt, and clay, and they differ primarily by their texture and water-holding abilities.

If you don’t know what to buy, you can choose one with an even mixture of sand, silt, and clay. Loam is ideal for growing plants due to its higher pH and calcium levels, which are essential for plant growth. It also has a gritty, crumbly texture. This texture is important for retaining plant nutrients, draining water, and allowing air to reach its roots easily.

Water Adequately

Make sure you water your plant regularly the three to four days before repotting. You don’t want it overly wet, but you don’t want to repot your plant when it’s too dry either. Dryness might cause problems in the root transfer and the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients from the soil.

How to Repot a Houseplant:

Now that you’re ready, just follow these easy steps on how to repot a houseplant.

Remove Houseplant from Pot

1.     Remove plant from pot.

You may tilt your plant sideways and cradle the stems gently, making sure to keep your plant stable. Then tap the pot to loosen up the soil. Continue doing so until the plant slides out. If your plant does not slide out easily, don’t be afraid to pull it out gently by the stem. Be sure you’re pulling as close as possible to the roots, so you’ll avoid any breakage.

Loosen the Houseplant's Roots

2.     Check and loosen up the roots.

With your hands, loosen the roots from the soil. Cut any long threads with sharp plant shears, but ensure you don’t remove the thicker growths at the plant base. If your plant has been root-bound in its pot, it may have a dense, circular root growth. Make sure to untangle this first before you change pots.

Add Potting Mix

3.     Add new potting mix.

Start by placing fresh potting mix at the base of your new pot. Make sure to pack it firmly to remove air pockets. But be careful not to pack it too densely, as that may limit your plant’s oxygen level. If your new pot has no drainage holes, make sure to put some potting pebbles at the bottom. The rocks will ensure the plant’s roots won’t be in water all the time.

Repot a Houseplant

4.     Plant your plant!

Now that your base is ready, you can move your plant to its new pot. Be sure the potting mix adequately supports your plant. Again, pack the soil firmly but not too densely around the roots.

Pat and Water Your Plant

5.     Pat and water.

Fill the pot with soil and even it out, and then water your plant right after. Move your plant to a well-lit area and let it grow!

How to Repot a Houseplant – The Wrap-up

There you have it — everything you need to know about how to repot a houseplant. Repotting is an essential activity vital to a plant’s growth, but remember only to do it when necessary. It takes plants some time to adjust to new environments. After repotting, leave your plant to thrive and grow to its full glory in its new home.

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