How to Repot Houseplants

To allow a plant's natural root system to develop and expand, houseplants need to be repotted on a periodic basis. The repotting process aims to improve water retention while also acting as a general time for a checkup, allowing you to spot any problems you need to address. Repotting plants is usually required if the leaves have started to turn yellow or the roots are beginning to escape through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. To repot a plant, follow this easy four-step process.

1. Know the time to repot: Pot-bound plant roots that expand exponentially over the months need to be moved to a larger pot and, although this is typically done in the springtime, this can also be carried out during the fall or when wintertime arrives. Bear in mind that the longer a plant stays in the same pot, the more probable that any salt and mineral remains that are present due to habitual watering can create ongoing damage. Look for roots that have become compacted by tilting the plant on its side and loosening the root ball. To do this, gently knock the pot to relax the soil. You should be able to smoothly tug out the plant and examine how its roots look. Cut away any nonessential top growth at this time as well

2. The two-sizes-up rule: When transferring a plant from one pot to another, make sure the new pot is two sizes larger than its predecessor. The ideal pot will give your plant a little more room to spread out, but do not make the mistake of putting the plant in a pot any bigger than this since you will run the risk of overwatering a plant and unintentionally drowning it. Always ensure that the pot has an appropriate amount of drainage holes and, if it has too few, drill additional holes yourself.

3. Removing the plant: When you have sufficiently loosened up the plant and you can feel some "wiggle room," gradually ease it out of its comfy soil-based blanket so that the roots are exposed. Check for insects and do not be concerned if some of the roots fall away because this is normal. If the roots look a little too compacted or "bunched up," slice them with a small knife in a few places to free them up.

4. Placing your plant in its new - and roomier - home: First, fill the new pot with potting mix up to a third of its overall capacity before softly placing the plant in its new pot. You can purchase pre-made potting mix from any gardening store or make your own with a combination of topsoil, fertilizer, perlite, peat moss and grit. Add more potting mix to the side of the pot and tap it down lightly so it looks neat and even. When finished, you want your plant to be buried up to the same height as before, with at least an inch between the lip of the pot and the topsoil. Once you are happy that this has been done, water the plant and let the excess naturally drain out.

Transferring a squashed, packed-in plant into a more spacious and comfortable pot will help save its roots from long-lasting damage that may detrimentally affect its growth. Think of this undertaking as a means of allowing your plant to flourish and thrive as the years progress

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  • Joline Cosman Joline Cosman on Apr 28, 2014
    Ya know, I am gonna be a little critical here. I think I see ONE plant in and among these pictures that might be a houseplant. The rest do not look like houseplants to me !!! LOL I suppose it doesn't matter, really. You need new, clean soil, and a larger pot than before. Planters are easy to find at this time of year, and I usually buy a few to keep in the closet for an emergency replant, or a gift plant during the rest of the year. Spring is best, though, since you will be able to see in a short time, if the new growth looks healthy, and green !

  • Betty819 Betty819 on Jun 10, 2014
    It's now 6/10/2014 and that hanging red geranium plant is doing so well. The vinca vine didn't return but the red geraniums which I intended to repot in new potting mix has filled out beautifully without it and continues to bloom, so I'm not going to repot it until fall and will take some cuttings then. May try some before then to see if they will take. Today is a good day or maybe tomorrow morning early to feed with Miracle Grow. I haven't bought any geranium plants for the two front flowerbeds yet but it's in the plans..

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