Repotting houseplants is key to them maturing well and increasing in size as there is when roots become potbound, it can stagnate growth and sometimes even cause further issues like a loss of leaves. Repotting might sound easy but there are actually several things to consider to make sure the process is a success and isn’t harming your plant in any way.
Below we will take you through all of our top tips when it comes to repotting your houseplants so you can keep them happy and healthy for many more years to come.
How to know when to repot your plant
We’ve written a whole guide on how to know when your plant needs a bigger pot but the main things to look out for are stagnant growth during spring and summer, roots growing out of the drainage holes and roots appearing on top of the soil. These are telltale signs that your plant has become root bound and there is nowhere left for it to grow.
Finding the right pot size is crucial
You might be thinking that the bigger the pot the better when it comes to repotting your houseplants but that isn’t true at all. If the pot is too big for your plant it can cause two problems.
Firstly, your plant can become quite unstable if the root system is not properly sunk into the pot which is especially a problem for taller plants such as Peace Lilies or Spider Plants as they require a strong stable root system.
The second issue is to do with overwatering and root rot. If the soil to root ratio is off, then this means the soil will take a lot longer to dry out which increases the risk of root rot and might mean you begin overwatering if you don’t adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
Untangle any roots from drainage holes
Our next tip will help you maintain the health of the root system as when a plant hasn’t been repotted in a while, the roots can begin to grow out of the drainage holes. These may then break when you remove the plant from its pot. To avoid this, gently detangle the roots so that they can glide out of the drainage holes without breaking.
Don’t pull at delicate leaves
When removing the plant from its pot the one thing you must not do is tug at any leaves that are quite thin and delicate. Instead, you want to loosen the soil around the edges of a pot using a stick or knife and then gently pull at the main stems of the plant to remove it from its pot.
If you are using plastic pots, squishing the sides can also help loosen the plant and make it easier for you to remove it.
Replace half of the potting mix with fresh mix
When repotting your plant it’s a great excuse to also refresh some of the potting mix. This helps your plant in terms of natural minerals and nutrients in the soil.
You want to be doing this around once a year if you aren’t supplementing with fertiliser as over time the soil will become nutrient deficient. We recommend replacing about one-third to half of the overall soil rather than replacing it all.
Let the soil breathe
Now that you have placed your plant in its new pot and refreshed some of the potting mix, one thing to keep in mind is to not compact the soil too much. It’s better to leave the soil slightly loose and pat it down a little at the top.
The reason for this is if you press the soil in too much and it compacts a lot, the soil isn’t able to aerate which can deprive the roots of enough oxygen.
At the end of the process, water your plant well
Now that your repotting process is complete, there is only one thing left to do and that is to water your plant well. Of course, the amount depends very much on your plant type as well as the time of year, environment and maturity of your plant.
The reason that we recommend watering after repotting can be quite a stressful experience for your houseplant so watering it nicely ensures it’s on the road to recovery.
What time of year should I repot my houseplants?
If your plants are healthy and happy then you can repot at any time of year. However, it can cause some level of shock in houseplants so with any struggling ones, you are better off waiting until spring. Not only does this mean there is plenty of warm weather for your plant to settle into its new home, but it means your plant can get straight to using that space with new healthy growth. It also reduces the risk of root rot that comes with increasing the pot size.
Should you repot a plant straight after buying it?
If your plant has come in a plastic nursery pot, then we do recommend transferring it over to a terracotta pot to allow better drainage. But apart from this, yes we at least recommend taking your plant out of its pot to check if it needs repotting. If the roots are very coiled and tightly packed then it’s a good idea to go up a pot size. Inspecting your plant closely will also allow you to check for any issues or signs of pests before you introduce it into your home.
Those are our repotting tips to help you make sure your plant has enough space to expand its root system and grow new leaves and stems. Repotting can be scary and a lot of plant parents put it off for as long as possible but the benefits are incredible.
Not only will your plant be a lot happier and thrive from a bit of fresh soil, but it also increases the growth potential so next time you are worried about repotting, think about all those incredible new leaves you could get out of it.
Written by Billy Dawson