6 steps to repotting your houseplants

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March 22, 2022

It is straight forward to repot a plant, what begs the question is when to do it and what the best strategy is for your plant. Repotting your plant is all about stimulating new growth, so throughout examination of your plant is needed to tell whether it is the right time to repot. Bear in mind, sometimes repotting doesn’t necessarily mean increase the planter size but merely refreshing/changing and airing the soil. Some plants need repotting every 12-18 months, whereas other slower growing plants just needs soil replacement, so there is not general timeline for when to repot your plant. Only rule of thumb; check your plants early spring for repotting, soil replenishment or airing the roots to ensure best growth during the season.

When spring comes around, most plants start growing with the increase of daylight. Thus, also brings the need for nutrient and space to grow. It’s not recommended to repot over winter as repotting can cause some damage to the roots and without the plants boosted growth phase, the damage might be severe.

When to repot your plant?

There are multiple indicators for when it’s ideal to repot:

  • Stunted growth
  • Roots starts growing out of the drainage wholes
  • Roots grow in a spiralling manner at the bottom of the planter because the pot is too small
  • The roots occupy most of the pot, leaving no room for soil and therefore nutrient
  • Roots are pushing the plant out of the pot
  • The plant is top heavy

What nutrients to use for plant?

Since the soil don’t have en everlasting supply of nutrient, adding plant nutrition supplement is alpha and omega to a heathy growth phase. That being said, once the plant has outgrown its pot and the roots outcompete the soil, fresh airy soil in a larger pot is important for further growth. Fresh soil combined with regular supplement of plant nutrient throughout the growing phase (spring to late autumn) gives the plant ideal conditions. After repotting your plant with new potting mixture, the soil will contain enough nutrients for at least 6 weeks so additional supplements are not needed.

Is there an ideal pot size?

With all the love you might want to give your plant, a much bigger pot is not a way to show your affection. Increasing the pot size drastically will have an opposite effect than what is intended, so only increase your pot size 2” in diameter for your table top planters and 4” in diameter for your floor planters. Very small plants may only need an inch larger pot to promote new growth!

Additional changes – support stick or climbing pole

It’s always important to keep in mind what the drawbacks of the additional accessorise, whatever it might be, will have on the plant. A support stick can be a great asset for a fast-growing plant that nearly falls over because of its own height and lack of thick stem. In this scenario, the drawback with the support is that the plant doesn’t initiate growth of a thicker stem to support itself as it already got the support, and can therefore focus on growing taler, making it flimsier.

But not all accessorise (support stick or support planter, climbing pole or any other addition, which might help grow and shape your plant) are necessarily bad for the plant, but if the plant gets accustomed to the addition and it’s removed, the change in environment might alter how it growths and it’s appearance.

Ok, How to repot your plants?

Materials

  • 2” or 4” larger in diameter planter with drainage (if needed)
  • Soil mixture ideal for your plant

Repotting steps:

  1. Remove plant from the old pot

Easiest way is to lay the plant sideways and gently pull the stem to free the plant from the planter. If the plant is stuck, try massaging the planter by squishing around the middle. This might loosen the roots if they stick to the planter or if it’s too tight. Also, tapping the bottom can help freeing the plant.

  1. Loosen the roots

Gently loosen the roots with your hands by starting at the bottom of the roots. In case your plant is root bound (roots growing in tight circles around the bottom of the planter), try loosen them and give them a trim.

  1. Remove the old soil

As the old soil contains less nutrient, try removing 2/3 of the old soil. There is no need to remove all of the old soil, as trying to do so might cause more harm than good.

  1. Add a bottom layer of soil to the new planter

If your new planter is lacking drainage holes, add lava rock or something similar. This can still be added if drainage holes are present but is not necessary. Add a layer of soil mixture and gently pack it.

  1. Add the plant and continue adding new soil

Place your plant at the centre of the new planter and add soil mixture to all sides of the plant, getting plenty of soil between the roots. Gently pack it down as you go to remove air pockets, but not too much as you want the roots to breath in their new environment.

  1. Water and let it rest

Water well, preferably over a sink so the water can drain out. Ideally, water so you see water coming out of all drainage holes and leaves the plant in the sink for 5 min to remove excess water before placing it in a pot.