Repotting your houseplants can feel like a daunting task if you’ve never done it before. Follow these easy steps to make your next planting afternoon as easy and fun as possible.

When Should I Repot My House Plants

When to re-pot house plants?

Most houseplants will need re-potted every 12-18 months (with the exceptions of succulents and cacti). You definitely want to avoid repotting a plant immediately after bringing it home from the plant shop. Allow time for your new plant to adjust to its new surrounds, temperatures and humidity.

If you are unsure about how long a plant has been in its original plastic container there are indicators that it may need re-potted. The best and most simple way is to check if roots are coming out of the drainage holes or up the base of the soil. Keep in mind that it may be easier to re-pot the plant if it is slightly root-bound (see image below).

How to repot houseplants

If your plant is looking healthy and growing at a steady rate you can assume it is fine in its current pot. If your plant shows signs as listed below you may need to repot:

  • The plant has stopped growing at its regular speed (as the roots have nowhere to go)
  • The plant has become top heavy and is falling over
  • The plant requires more frequent watering.

Essential Equipment

Before you jump into repotting your beloved house plant, you will need some essential  equipment that will ensure your safety as well as the survival of the plant. Legionaries is a severe form of pneumonia, which can commonly be contracted from breathing in bacteria from soil. You should always wear a mask or face covering which will help prevent breathing in the air of the soil. In addition you need a good pair of gardening gloves.

To ensure the safety of your plant when re-potting, get yourself a good bag of potting mix, scissors to use if the plant is root-bound, an appropriate sized container, a watering can (or source of water), and a small gardening trowel.

what equipment do you need when repotting plants


What container or pot should you use?

The general rule of thumb for re-potting is that you should only go up one container size at a time. Don’t exceed 5cm wider or 5cm deeper than the original pot. The foliage at the top of the plant won’t start to grow until the roots have reached the sides of the new pot. We don’t want the plant using all its energy on the roots and not the top of the plant.

best tips for repotting rootbound plants

How to repot house plants?

1) Removing the plant from its original home:

When the time comes for re-potting, turn the plant sideways,holding it by the foliage. Tap the base of the current pot. If it’s a stubborn one, use your scissors to cut some of the roots around the drainage holes, or use your gardening trowel to loosen the edges of the soil. Gently use the foliage to pull the plant out being careful when doing so especially if the leaves are delicate.

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2) Pruning the roots:

Once the plant is free from its original container you will need to loosen the roots so they are not bound together so tightly. Gently pull at the roots from all sides so they are evenly spread, creating a bigger root-ball. You may  need to trim them so they can grow freely in their new pot.

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3) Replace the potting mix

Before putting your plant into its new home you need to remove about a third of the existing soil around the roots.Fill your new container with a decent layer of fresh potting mix. You can add a splash of water to this before putting your new plant in.

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4) Add plant

Place your houseplant on top of the new soil ensuring that it’s centered. Use your trowel to add more fresh potting mix around the sides until the plant seems secure. Be careful not to pack the soil in too tightly as this will make it hard for the plant to breathe.

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5) Water

Once the new plant is secure in its new home, give it ample water to moisten the roots and settle the new potting mix. Do not fertilizing your newly potted houseplant for about a month as this could burn the roots. Enjoy your newly potted plant!

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The beauty of repotting plants is that you can completely change the look of your space by giving an existing plant a new home. Changing from a traditional terracotta pot to a funky white tin could be just the thing your indoor plant needs to make it thrive. Make sure you  tag us in photos of your plants in their new pots.

Browse Moffatt's Indoor Plant Varieties:

29 September, 2021 — Saskia Ostermeier