Houseplants bring beauty and fresh air to our homes, but in order to keep them healthy and thriving, they need to be repotted. Repotting can seem intimidating, but with a few basic tips and a little bit of know-how, you can easily give your houseplants the room they need to grow. In this blog post, we will discuss when it is time to repot, how to repot, and how to choose the right pottery and soil mixture for your plants.
When to Repot
The first step in repotting your houseplant is knowing when it needs to be done. Some common signs that your plant needs repotting include:
- Roots emerging from the drainage holes: If you can see roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, it’s a sign that your plant has outgrown its current container.
- Slow growth or yellowing leaves: If your plant is growing slowly or its leaves are turning yellow, it may be a sign that the plant is not getting the nutrients it needs from the soil.
- Soil drying out quickly: If you find that you need to water your plant more often than usual, it may be a sign that the soil is too compacted and not allowing water to flow through.
If you notice any of these signs, it’s time to repot your plant. Many plant collectors choose to repot their plants in the spring as the plants are entering their primary growing season, but this isn’t always necessary. If your plant appears to be struggling and is showing signs that it needs to be repotted, you can do this at any time during the year.
How to Repot
Once you’ve determined that it’s time to repot your plant, it’s important to follow these steps to ensure a successful transition:
- Choose a new pot that is one size larger than the current pot—typically 1”-2” wider in diameter. You want to give your plant room to grow, but not so much that the soil will take too long to dry out.
- Water your plant a few hours before repotting. This will help the soil stay together when you remove it from the pot and reduce the risk of damaging dry, brittle roots.
- Carefully remove the plant from its current pot. Gently loosen the soil around the edges of the pot, then turn the pot upside down while supporting the plant with your other hand. Tap the bottom of the pot to help release the soil and roots.
- Loosen the roots. Once you’ve removed the plant from its pot, gently loosen the roots with your fingers. If the roots are particularly tightly packed, you can use a skewer or chopstick to help loosen them from the soil.
- Add fresh soil to the bottom of the new pot. Create a layer of soil that is deep enough to support the root ball, but not so deep that it covers the stem of the plant.
- Place the plant in the new pot. Center the plant in the new pot, then add more soil around the edges. Gently press the soil down to ensure good contact between the soil and roots, but be careful not to tightly pack the soil into the pot.
- Water the plant. Give the plant a thorough watering to help settle the soil around the roots.
Choosing the Right Pottery and Soil Mixture
When it comes to choosing the right pottery and soil mixture for your plant, you are going to want to consider your plant care habits. Do you tend to overwater or underwater? Is this plant going to be placed in bright sun or partial shade?
- Pottery: Although we tend to think of pottery as a decorative statement, try to consider your pots as a tool in your plant care arsenal. You can choose from a variety of materials, including ceramic, terra cotta, or plastic. Each material has its own advantages and disadvantages, and some might be more suited to your home, your plants, and your plant care routine.
For example, glazed ceramic or plastic pots might be a good choice for someone who tends to underwater their plants because these pots will help retain moisture in the soil for a longer period of time. If you tend to overwater your plants, or you enjoy collecting plants that prefer long periods of drought, terra cotta might be a better option. In either case, ensure your pots have plenty of drainage holes to promote air circulation and allow excess water to drip out the bottom.
- Soil: Choosing the right soil for your plants is one of the most important steps when repotting. Healthy roots are essential for plant growth, and potting your plant in the wrong soil can lead to a rapid decline in your plant’s health.
One of the first steps in choosing a potting mix is to consider your plant’s natural growing conditions. In nature, does this plant grow on the forest floor in rich soil, in the desert sand, or is it an epiphyte perched high up in the canopy of a tree where its roots are exposed to lots of oxygen?
Next, consider your plant’s water requirements. Does your plant prefer consistently moist soil, or will its roots rot if they stay wet for too long? Do its roots need extra airflow and a well-draining mix? All of these factors will help you determine the most appropriate soil mixture for your plants.
Once you have determined your plant’s soil needs, it’s time to get your hands dirty! If your plants need extra drainage and airflow to their roots, try adding extra perlite, vermiculite, or orchid bark to your potting soil. For succulents and cacti, adding sand, perlite, or pumice will mimic their natural growing conditions and reduce the risk of overwatering.
- Fertilizer: Consider adding a slow-release fertilizer to the soil to provide your plant with the nutrients it needs to grow. Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions to avoid over-fertilization and leaf burn.
Pro Tip: Your plant might undergo some stress after repotting. This is normal and should not be cause for concern. Give your plant a couple of weeks to adjust to its new pot and avoid drastically changing its growing conditions during this time.