Plant Care: Repotting

When to Repot

Repotting does not necessarily mean changing a plant’s planter, but rather, changing its soil or potting mix. Fresh soil means new nutrients. This is great news if you love your current planter, but if you’re looking to purchase a new one that’s fine. If you are changing planters, try to keep the size no more than 3″ larger in diameter for tabletop planters, and no more than 6″ larger in diameter for floor planters. Make sure your planter has drainage and put a tray underneath to catch any excess water. The size is important here, because typically when we move our plants to a larger pot with more soil, we will be inclined to water more often. A small plant + an oversized planter + lots of soil + overwatering = killing with kindness. Learn more about picking the perfect planter here.

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Early spring, before the start of the growth season, is the best time to repot your houseplants.

What You Need
  • Your houseplant, of course
  • Newspaper (for easy clean up)
  • Fresh potting mix
  • A watering can, spray bottle, or makeshift water bottle
  • Scissors or pruners
  • A planter (your choice as far as colors and materials, but be mindful of the size)
10 Step Repotting

1. Water your plant thoroughly a day or two before you plan to repot.

2. Pre-moisten the new potting soil if it feels dry (optional).

3. Turn your plant sideways, hold it gently by the stems, and tap the bottom of its current container until the plant slides out (you can give it a bit of help with a couple gentle tugs on the base of the stems).

Plants typically need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, but some slow growers can call the same pot home for years.

4. With your hands, loosen the roots and prune any that are head or extra long.

5. If your plant is root bound – footings growing in tight circles around the base of the plant  – unbind them as best you can and give them a little trim. You may find yourself tearing them a little if you cannot finesse them apart. Try not to damage buds or stems. Be gentle.

6. Remove about 1/3 of the old potting mix.

7. Pour a layer of fresh, pre-moistened mix into the planter and pack it down.

8. Set plant on top of the fresh layer of mix in the planter, making sure it’s centered.

9. Add potting mix around the plant until it is secure (sitting upright). Be sure not to pack too much soil into the planter, as you want the roots to breathe. Leave some space below the lip of the planter, about an inch or so for larger planters. Avoid piling soil all the way up to the top of the pot. You will not be able to water it properly, as water will rush off the sides of the pot without ever soaking in.

10. Even out the potting soil on top, making sure to leave the soil line an inch or so from the top. Water well and let it drain.

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