How and When to Repot Houseplants: A Repotting Plant Guide

All crops (even these we develop indoors) aren’t naturally inclined to develop in containers. Some reply to it higher than others, however you definitely gained’t discover any potted crops within the wild. As a result of we create these situations, it’s additionally as much as us to manage them to maintain our crops alive.

Accustomed to rising unhindered, plant roots need to unfold repeatedly, fuelling progress above the soil. As soon as these roots haven’t any house, they may wrap round one another and develop in bizarre instructions, on the lookout for gaps. If there aren’t any, the plant will cease rising altogether.

Root well being is crucial to a contented houseplant, to allow them to’t stay like this eternally. Once they run out of house and cease rising, it’s essential to repot to maintain your crops alive.

Even when your crops don’t outgrow their containers, it doesn’t imply you’ll be able to skip repotting altogether. The soil in containers will ultimately break down with none natural matter to replenish it and enhance its construction. You might be able to preserve the plant in the identical container, however you’ll nonetheless have to repot to switch the soil.

Repotting is a messy chore, however sadly, it’s not one you’ll be able to skip. Plus, it may give sad houseplants a beautiful enhance that brings them again to life inside a couple of weeks.

Which Houseplants Want Repotting?

Houseplants, no matter their sort or measurement, will ultimately require repotting, usually each one to 4 years.

Frustratingly, the reply to which houseplants want repotting is all of them. They might want repotting at completely different occasions and for various causes, however any crops you retain in containers will want repotting in some unspecified time in the future.

Most houseplants profit from repotting yearly or two within the early phases of progress or each three or 4 years for big and mature crops that simply want new soil.

Some could be repotted sooner. For instance, African violet growers typically advocate repotting each six months or so to maintain them wanting their finest. However for many houseplants, it’s finest to attend till your houseplants want repotting earlier than placing them by way of the processes.

Chances are you’ll assume older and established crops, reminiscent of indoor timber, don’t actually need repotting. Nevertheless, even when planted in an enormous container, changing the soil each 4 years or so is important in order for you them to stay long-term.

It may be a tough course of (it took me fairly some time to determine how one can repot my ceiling-high Fiddle Leaf), however because it’s required so occasionally, it’s not one thing to skip.

When To Repot Houseplants

A view of a woman wearing black Nitrile rubber gloves surrounded by potted indoor plants. She transplants a syngonium plant with healthy roots from a brown nursery pot to a transparent bin filled with dark brown, fertilized soil. The syngonium plant has green leaves, with a few that are yellowing.
Repot houseplants after they exhibit indicators of needing it to reduce stress and transplant shock.

On a macro scale, one of the best time to repot your houseplants is simply after they actually need it. We’ve all introduced a brand new houseplant house and needed to maneuver it to a model new pot instantly, however ready till the proper time when your plant isn’t already pressured will assist restrict threat.

The danger concerned is additional stress and transplant shock. Houseplants don’t like having their roots uncovered to the air and dealt with unnaturally. Additionally they don’t like modifications in environments, together with issues like new soil situations. Though repotting does enhance progress in the long run, it additionally leads to short-term stress that you just don’t wish to induce usually.

There are indicators it is best to look out for to point when it’s time to repot, which we’ll have a look at subsequent. However even should you don’t discover these indicators directly, it is best to nonetheless think about repotting each 4 years or so should you haven’t repotted shortly.

On a micro-scale, one of the best season to repot is normally spring. Most houseplants begin creating new progress presently, and the hotter temperatures will assist in fast restoration after repotting. You’ll be able to repot every time it’s heat, though you’ll want to observe your watering if repotting when temperatures are excessive.

Whereas it’s not best to repot in fall or winter, it gained’t do any severe harm in case your indoor temperatures are nonetheless comparatively heat. They’ll take a bit longer to bounce again, so don’t fear should you don’t spot any improved progress for a couple of weeks.

For those who’re repotting on account of issues with progress, reminiscent of root rot, don’t wait till the climate warms. Repot instantly, irrespective of the season, to take away the harm and forestall unfold.

Indicators Your Houseplant Wants Repotting

Repotting on a schedule (reminiscent of one per 12 months in spring) may help you keep away from forgetting this important job. Nevertheless, it doesn’t think about the plant’s actual wants. As an alternative, look out for these traditional indicators that your houseplants want a brand new house.

Roots Rising Via Drainage Holes

A close-up view of the roots of a houseplant sticking out of the pot through drainage holes. There are some visible rots on its roots. In the background, there appears to be a pair of lime-green gardening tools.
When roots develop by way of drainage holes and circle the pot, it’s a transparent signal your houseplant wants repotting.

The primary signal is among the best indicators that your houseplant could also be struggling: roots rising by way of drainage holes.

As a result of constrained house in containers, the plant’s roots will ultimately hit the sting of the pot. From right here, they may begin circling across the container or rising again into the soil. However when there isn’t a house left on the backside of the pot, sprawling roots will attain for room by rising by way of the holes within the backside.

This normally occurs when your houseplant is in a pot cowl or on a drip tray. The roots attain downwards in direction of the moisture, rising out of the drainage holes. Not solely does this imply the roots are significantly missing house, however this could additionally block the drainage holes, risking waterlogging and decay.

For those who carry the plant out of its container, you’ll seemingly see roots packed on the backside, taking the form of the container. The roots will wrap round one another, struggling to soak up moisture or vitamins. In these instances, it’s finest to repot as quickly as attainable, irrespective of the season.

Roots Circling The High Soil

A gardener is holding a houseplant in his hands while wearing blue garden gloves. It is being prepared for transplanting into a new pot. The bottom of the plant shows a thick set of healthy roots growing circularly in the shape of its previous pot.
Roots rising on the soil floor are an indication of restricted house, presumably on account of shallow watering.

Equally, you could discover roots peeking by way of the topsoil, presumably earlier than they come out the underside of the container. Rising upwards is definitely not a standard follow for roots and tells you they haven’t any extra room on the backside of the container, on the lookout for room on the prime as an alternative.

Circling roots on the prime can even trigger a phenomenon generally known as girdling. In girdling, the plant strangles its personal mainstem by encircling it with roots. Evidently, this isn’t best!

This will also be attributable to shallow watering; in different phrases, watering solely the highest layer of soil with out saturating it fully. For those who solely add small quantities of water at a time, this can be the offender somewhat than an absence of house. Ensure you water totally till moisture runs by way of the drainage holes to make sure you’re watering sufficiently.

Dry Soil

A close-up of a small Indian plant inside a terracotta pot. The sprout on the left side has green, healthy leaves. It appears to be growing healthy in contrast to the dry and cracked brown soil.
Recurring dry soil indicators potential poor soil construction, impacting root well being and progress.

Dry soil is normally an indication that your houseplant is missing water. Noticing the dry soil, you in all probability determine to water, maybe backside watering, to totally saturate the soil with out moisture working down the perimeters. However what occurs if the soil is unusually dry once more just some days later?

This can be a signal of poor soil construction. The soil in containers disintegrates over time, dropping its capacity to carry onto moisture and vitamins. This negatively impacts root well being and progress above the soil, resulting in wilting and discoloration.

Underwatering is the primary concern to handle. But when that’s not the difficulty, it might be time for a soil refresh.

Stunted Development

A man is holding a plastic pot that has been cut in half, revealing the plant’s root system. Inside the pot, there is dark brown soil with light, almost white roots. In the background, there is a bed of lush green grass.
When roots are constricted, it may be difficult to diagnose with out extracting the plant from its pot.

When roots begin wrapping round one another with nowhere else to go, it is sensible that you just gained’t spot any new leaf or stem progress both. The roots help progress above the soil, so in the event that they’re caught, the remainder of the plant might be too.

Stunted progress is tough to diagnose. For one, your plant gained’t all the time quickly produce new leaves and stems. Some crops develop slower than others, making stunted progress tough to determine.

Lack of progress additionally has many causes – not simply lack of house. Insufficient lighting, sudden modifications in setting, chilly temperatures, or inconsistent watering are a few of the commonest causes for stunted progress.

Lifting your plant out of its pot is the best option to inform if it’s constricted. That is tough for bigger houseplants, however it’s one of the simplest ways to look intently on the roots. If they’re crowded and overgrown, repot. If not, search for different potential causes first to keep away from compounding the stress.


On a balcony with a gray cemented wall, a bush of ripe cherry tomato plants in a white pot is seen. The pot contains dark brown soil with a fairly tall tomato plant featuring both green and yellowing leaves. The leaves appear to be of varying sizes, with the top having larger ones showing discoloration, while the bottom leaves are smaller, fresher-looking, and newly sprouted.
Repotting needs to be thought of when issues like pests or root rot are detected.

Browning and yellowing leaves are one other signal that your plant is struggling. These might be attributable to incorrect situations or care however can even point out when your plant wants extra room or higher soil. Begin by pruning these off, then examine the roots to determine whether or not it’s time to repot or not.

If pests or ailments are inflicting the discoloration, repotting should be the reply, even when the plant doesn’t want extra space. Many houseplant pests can cover within the soil, the place they reproduce and unfold to different crops. Circumstances like root rot should even be resolved by repotting to take away the problematic fungus.

Detective work will show you how to discover the foundation trigger. Like stunted progress, you don’t wish to repot and improve stress if there’s a completely different trigger.

How To Repot Houseplants

A close-up of a woman in a blue apron replanting a plant in a new brown pot. The plant she is holding has small leaves with a green center and light green to yellow tips. In the background, other potted plants surround her sitting on a hardwood surface. A pair of gardening tools with wooden handles can also be seen nearby.
Repotting is ideally carried out outdoor for simple clean-up.

When you’ve decided it’s time to repot, you’ll be able to comply with these straightforward steps to get it proper. Though it might seem to be a tedious job in comparison with issues like watering, it may be fairly therapeutic. Take into account it a time to bond together with your houseplants and enhance their well being somewhat than a chore.

My first advice is all the time to repot exterior should you can. Even should you attempt to include the soil as a lot as attainable, repotting is messy. For those who don’t have any out of doors house, lay down some newspaper to catch the soil, making clean-up painless.

Select A New Container

A clear view of potted plants sitting beside a heap of damp, dark brown soil. The potted plants are of varying species contained in pots of different sizes, while the leaves of the potted plants are vibrant green and deep purple. A garden shovel with a red plastic handle beside the pots is seen, placed on top of the soil.
When repotting, choose a container just one or two sizes bigger than the present one.

Earlier than you contact any of your houseplants, you’ll want to search out their new container. Though design and materials all the time play a task, measurement is crucial consideration when repotting. Sadly, additionally it is one thing gardeners typically get mistaken.

For those who assume selecting a a lot bigger pot will assist your houseplants develop faster, I’m right here to dispel that fantasy. Containers which are too giant truly inhibit progress and may even result in fungal progress because of the additional soil (and subsequently further moisture) across the roots.

For many houseplants, select a container round one or two sizes up. This may be adjusted based mostly on the expansion stage – for instance, a smaller Monstera can develop fairly giant in a couple of months in the proper situations, presumably requiring a barely bigger container. However usually, go two sizes up at most to keep away from stunting progress.

For those who’re solely repotting to replenish the soil and your plant hasn’t grown a lot, you’ll be able to take away the previous soil and replant in the identical container. You may additionally wish to trim the roots to reinvigorate them earlier than planting within the new soil.

Put together Your Soil Combine

In a white plastic flower pot that is rectangular in shape, dark loose soil is being poured. Beside it is an Aptenia cordifolia in blossom. It has fairly tall stalks with a lush green appearance, including the leaves.
Select a soil combine tailor-made to your houseplant’s particular wants.

Talking of soil, the following factor to think about is soil combine. Houseplants are fairly explicit concerning the soil they develop in and don’t admire modifications in situations. You’ll be able to’t simply collect any soil from the backyard and hope for one of the best.

Tropical houseplants usually require a lightweight and ethereal houseplant combination to forestall possibilities of rot. My normal combine is 2 elements potting soil, one half coconut coir, and one half perlite, however you’ll be able to alter the ratios as wanted.

Succulent crops have barely completely different necessities. To match the dry and gritty situations of their native habitats, search for a specialised succulent and cacti combine that drains rapidly.

Orchids even have completely different preferences, rising finest in orchid bark to swimsuit their usually epiphytic roots. They want extraordinarily good drainage, and the damp orchid bark is commonly sufficient to fulfill them.

Analysis the wants of your houseplants earlier than deciding on a soil combine. You can even have a look at the prevailing soil combine to determine on the best parts, limiting potential points with transplant shock.

Take away The Plant

A close-up of a woman gardener holding a primrose plant. It has a visible root system in light beige to white, contrasting against the dark brown soil. The plant's leaves are crisp green with intricate patterns, and a pair of yellow flowers with orange centers are in full bloom.
To take away the plant from its present container, gently shake it out by turning the pot on its aspect.

With the preparation out of the way in which, you’ll be able to lastly get into the nitty gritty of repotting. This begins with the best job – eradicating the plant from its present container.

In case your houseplants are fairly overgrown, they’ll normally pop proper out of the container with none points. Ensure you carry from the bottom, avoiding grabbing the stems and leaves. The much less harm you do when repotting, the faster the plant will get well.

Houseplants could get caught of their containers, making them harder to take away. I discover this occurs typically with terracotta pots, somewhat than plastic, the place the plant slips proper out. If that is so, you’ll be able to run a knife alongside the sting of the pot to launch the roots or gently squeeze the perimeters if the pot is malleable.

If there’s resistance, don’t pull from the highest. The very last thing you wish to do is separate the stems from the foundation system by pulling too laborious. As an alternative, flip the pot on its aspect and gently shake the plant out with out pulling.

Tease The Roots

A gardener wearing a pair of dark garden gloves teases out the root system of a plant prior to replanting it. The plant appears to be a red damask shrub that hasn't blossomed yet. Three bamboo-like sticks are installed for growth guidance. In the background, coarse loose soil and rocks litter the ground beside the big square ceramic pot.
Take away previous soil and trim broken roots to advertise new, wholesome progress.

The following step is essential, particularly if the roots are wrapped round one another.

Pull the roots aside together with your fingers, utilizing a mild raking movement to loosen them. This may assist them develop downwards and outwards into the brand new soil somewhat than staying caught the place they’re. Additionally, tease the roots on the aspect – you need these to develop outwards too.

Whilst you’re teasing the roots, take away a few of the previous soil across the roots. This makes means for recent and high-quality potting soil whereas supplying you with a better have a look at the foundation system.

Take the chance to examine the roots for indicators of injury. Trim any useless or mushy roots, eradicating harm and serving to the plant produce new and wholesome roots to gas progress.


A close-up of a pair of hands wearing black Nitrile rubber gloves holding soil substrate. The substrate is placed in a rectangular white flower pot, and it appears coarse and dark brown. Several elements used for transplanting houseplants surround the rectangular pot, each placed in various containers. There are also a pair of garden tools and another houseplant with sturdy green leaves in the background.
When transplanting, fill gaps with soil and gently press across the plant to settle with out compacting.

If you’re able to pot up, fill the underside of the container with a little bit of soil, guaranteeing the bottom of the plant will sit slightly below the rim of the pot. To cease soil from spilling out the underside, cowl the drainage holes with espresso filters. This enables extra moisture to empty by way of however prevents the soil from dropping out.

Decrease the plant contained in the pot and fill within the surrounding gaps with extra soil combine. You wish to fill as much as the identical soil line the plant was beforehand. Masking the stems and leaves or leaving them extra uncovered will result in issues with progress.

Fill the pot as much as slightly below the rim of the container. You don’t wish to fill it to the very prime as this can trigger soil to spill out whenever you water for the primary time. Go away a bit respiration room to keep away from pointless mess.

When you’ve stuffed the container, press gently across the base of the plant to settle it in place. This removes any giant air pockets and allows you to know if it’s good to add extra soil. Don’t push too laborious – you don’t wish to compact the soil. 

Water Instantly

A macro view of fresh green basil and rosemary plants being watered. The water is pouring out of a slender white watering pot into the plants after they were repotted in new clay pots. The leaves of the rosemary are green, growing upright under the dark brown, moist soil.
Water newly repotted crops totally to settle the roots.

If you’re carried out repotting, it’s vital to water your crops to saturate the soil and settle the roots. Since they don’t like being uncovered to the air, watering will assist them set up within the new soil, boosting new progress.

You’ll be able to wait a couple of days earlier than watering succulent crops like Echeveria or Aloe, as they like dry soil situations. Nevertheless, in these instances, the potting soil needs to be barely damp earlier than planting in order that they aren’t left fully with out moisture.

Exchange The Plant

A group of green houseplants varying in size, color, and species is placed on a windowsill. The plant in the largest pot has tall green stalks and slender leaves growing upright. Beside it is a collection of other potted plants that complement each other with their wide and thin green leaves.
Returning your plant to its unique location after repotting promotes quicker restoration.

When you’ve completed repotting (and cleaned up the mess), transfer your plant again to the place it was initially. The less modifications in situations the plant experiences after repotting, the quicker it is going to bounce again.

Remaining Ideas

Repotting is a houseplant care job that may’t be skipped, it doesn’t matter what you’re rising. However should you perceive your plant’s wants and comply with these straightforward steps, you gained’t have any bother getting it proper.

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