Repotting a little succulent

Houseplant Repotting 101

So you've lovingly cared for your beautiful houseplant for quite a while, and it has happily grown for that entire time! But, you've noticed that the plant isn't quite looking as healthy lately! What should you do? If you're worried that the plant is on its way out, you may just need to repot her. If your plant has yellowing or brown leaves, then check out my post on Common Houseplant Questions. 

However, it really may be time to repot your houseplant. Today we are going to talk about how to determine whether your plant really does need to be repotted, and we will walk through the steps to repot the houseplant.

Root bound succulents

 How to tell when you need to Repot!

Before we dive into the process of repotting your houseplant, it is very important to determine whether you actually need to! The general guideline for knowing when to repot is that your plant exhibits the following traits:

      • Plant roots are growing out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot
      • Your potting mix is drying out more quickly than what is typical
      • Your plant is not continuing to grow (even when fertilized)

While these signs are all pretty reliable at determining whether to give your plant a new home, they are not foolproof. For example, there are a number of plants that actually prefer to be root bound. These plants include Peace Lilly, Spider Plant, African Violet, Aloe Vera, Umbrella Tree, Ficus, Agapanthas, Asparagus Fern, Spider Lilly, Christmas Cactus, Jade Plant, Snake Plant, and Boston Fern.

If you have any of these plants, then they will be rather dispirited were you to offer them more space. In fact, plants like the Spider Plant will refuse to produce baby spider plants when given too much room to grow! So, now that you've determined if you really should repot, let's take a look at what it takes to do so successfully.

How to repot your houseplant

To begin the process of repotting, you should have on hand a few tools. Those include a small trowel, some chopsticks (to help push the old pot away from the roots), a pot the next size up from the current pot, fresh potting soil, and some water.

*** A Quick Note about Pot Size ***

  Pots come in all variety of sizes. The most common are 2", 3", 4", 6", 10", and 18". You should choose a pot that leaves approximately 2 inches around the largest part of the root ball on your plant. This will give your houseplant plenty of room to grow until the next time your repot.

*** ***

Now that you have all the tools and supplies needed to successfully repot your houseplant, let's get our hands dirty. To repot you will do the following:

  1. The day before repotting, give your plant a thorough watering
  2. To start, hold the plant at the base of the stem, just above the root ball at the surface of the existing dirt. 
  3. Turn the plant upside down and gently tap the existing pot to loosen the roots and soil from the pot (if the plant refuses to budge, use the chopstick to move around the interior wall of the pot to dislodge the roots plant from the pot).
  4. Take your new pot and place some fresh potting soil in the bottom (I tend to fill up about 10% of the volume of the pot with fresh soil).
  5. Place your plant in the middle of the pot
  6. Add fresh potting soil around the sides of the root ball, and fill up until there is an inch or so of the inside of the pot showing.
  7. Water your plant into its new pot. 
  8. Now that the soil has settled from the watering, add more potting soil back up to that inch below the top of the pot level.

Success! You have just repotted your houseplant! Some of you may be thinking, "I have a plant too large to repot so what should I do". The simple answer is to regularly fertilize your plant, and, once a year, add two to three inches of good quality potting soil to the top layer of the plant. This will help your (large) plant live a healthy life!


If you've liked some of the suggestions made in this post, then be sure to check out our other posts on the Plant Blog. Also, we would love for you to check out our wonderful collections of plants, accessories, books, and livery at PlantVeritas!

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