I’m a dedicated plant Mom. Love them. I have potted plants and/or indoor trees in every room of our house. Having said that, I also get busy and tend to just plop them straight into a planter after bringing them home without much thought beyond watering and the occasional liquid fertilizer.
But plants need repotting from time to time in order to thrive. Part of my Spring Cleaning Playbook for this year includes carving out some time to repot my plant babies!
EARLY SPRING, BEFORE THE START OF THE GROWTH SEASON, IS THE BEST TIME TO REPOT YOUR HOUSEPLANTS.
Our friends at The Sill have some great advice about how and when to repot:
TIME: 2-3 hours including a trip to the nursery or garden center.
- A good-sized table or workspace (I'm using the kitchen table until I get my potting bench)!
- Newspapers for easy clean up
- Your houseplants
- Fresh potting mix
- A watering can, spray bottle, or makeshift water bottle
- Scissors or pruners
- A planter or cachepot. I like the ones without drainage holes but I put gravel inside so the roots don’t drown if I over water.
- A good hand soap + hand cream for afterwards.
PLANTS TYPICALLY NEED TO BE REPOTTED EVERY 12 TO 18 MONTHS, BUT SOME SLOW GROWERS CAN CALL THE SAME POT HOME FOR YEARS.
HOW TO TELL WHEN IT’S TIME TO REPOT A PLANT:
- Roots are growing through the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter
- Roots are pushing the plant up, out of the planter
- Plant is growing slower than normal (different than dormant)
- Plant is extremely top heavy, and falls over easily
- Plant dries out more quickly than usual, requiring more frequent watering
- Above ground parts of plant take up more than three times the pot space
- Noticeable salt and mineral build up on the plant or planter
HOW TO DO IT:
Water your plant thoroughly a day or two before you plan to repot.
- Pre-moisten the new potting soil if it feels dry.
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).
BTW: Plants typically need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, but some slow growers can call the same pot home for years.
Loosen the roots and prune any that are head or extra long.
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.
Remove about 1/3 of the old potting mix.
Pour a layer of fresh, pre-moistened mix into the planter and pack it down.
Set plant on top of the fresh layer of mix in the planter, making sure it's centered.
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.
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.
THE BOTTOM LINE? PLANTS BRING TEXTURE, LIFE AND A GORGEOUS HIT OF COLOR TO YOUR HOME. PLUS THEY PURIFY THE AIR WE BREATHE, SO FOR ME, PLANTS ARE A NECESSITY.