How (And When) To Repot Your Houseplants

How (And When) To Repot Your Houseplants

It’s officially spring in Pittsburgh! My senses are all alive again and I’m in the mood to work outside nonstop. The weather is perfect right now, not too hot, not too cold. Because of our newly sunshine-filled days, I wanted to talk about one important thing that should happen to your houseplants, repotting! All houseplants need to be repotted occasionally to keep them healthy and living well, but I feel like it’s especially important after they’ve been cooped up inside all winter. Something about being blasted with forced heat seems to really put a damper on their growth haha. Think of it as a refresh, we go through it as humans, so plants should be given that right to a fresh start too! This is also your time to do a root check to clean up the base, and even possibly move your plant into a larger pot that is more suitable for summer growth. So let’s take a look at a few things to know before you up and transplant your babies.

You can prepare your houseplant by watering it fairly well a few days prior to repotting. This will help the roots from being too dry when you go to slide it out. I’ve done this a few times but most of the time I just dive right in.

Most houseplants need to be repotted around a year or so of being in the same container. Potting soil tends to lose its nutrients by then. Remember, fresh potting soil = fresh nutrients. If you are changing planters because the plant looks to be outgrowing its current one, try to keep the size no more than 3-6″ larger in diameter. The size is important because when we transport our plants to a larger pot, we tend to overwater. A small plant + a giant container = future dead plants. Make sure your planter has drainage holes as well, but that’s always important.

You know it’s time to repot your babies if you notice any of these things happening:

  • The plant is decreased in growth or hasn’t grown at all

  • Plant is top heavy

  • Plant has become root bound, as in, you notice the roots popping out the bottom or top of your container

  • Your plant doesn’t seem to accept a lot of water, which tends to make it dry out easier

(Ruby Flora tip: springtime is the quintessential time for repotting in my opinion!)

What You’ll Need:

  • Fresh potting mix (I don’t have a favorite and I usually change it up each time)

  • Watering can/cup of water

  • Scissors

  • The houseplant that is being repotted (seems like a no brainer, eh?)

  • A new planter/pot

First, you’ll want to turn your plant sideways or upside down, hold it by the stems, and tap the bottom of the container until the plant slides out easily. You can move it along with a couple gentle pulls on the stems. (If your plant is root bound it may need a bit more finessing. See below for an extra step if that’s the case.) Loosen up the roots with your hand and cut away anything that’s stringy or dead.

If your plant is root bound:
The roots will be growing in tight circles around the base, try to untwirl them as best as you can but you may need to put in a little elbow grease which could result in some torn roots. Try not to damage them but accidents do happen, give them a trim if that’s the case but try to be gentle!

Next, throw away the old potting mix and pour a new layer of pre-moistened mix onto the planter. Pack it down nicely and then place your plant on top of the fresh layer, making sure it’s centered. Then add the remainder of your potting mix until its secure. Don’t overpack it, but add enough that it doesn’t tip in any certain direction Then add a stick of fertilizer or plant food if you wish (I use these!) and water well, I normally keep watering it until I see it drain through the bottom.

Note: Some people don’t like fertilizing while repotting because roots are getting accustomed to their new surroundings, if you wish to hold off doing this, feel free, but try to not forget to come back to it later! Remember that repotting any houseplant may put it through a bit of a transition, watch it closely afterward to notice any signs of distress.

I hope this helps you if you are repotting this spring! Feel free to comment on the best ways you repot or if you have any tips/tricks!

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