Re-Potting Houseplants: A Step by Step Guide

If you are like us, the beginning of Spring is a time for the re-organizing, de-cluttering and re-styling of all living spaces! When going about your Spring cleaning this year, be sure to include re-potting your houseplants as an essential step in your Spring cleaning routine.

Repotting is best done just at the beginning of Spring, when the plant is coming out of its winter dormancy and preparing to bloom again. This is an essential step in assisting your beautiful plants to thrive.

If you are unsure about whether or not your plants may need to be re-potted consider these factors.

When plants become too big for their pots, they will start to show these undesirable side effects:

-Soil that dries out too quickly

-Stunted growth, or no new growth at all

-Roots that start growing through the hole at the base of your pot

-Matted roots visible near the surface of the soil

-The amount of roots is greater than the amount of soil available to the plant

Young and actively growing houseplants should be repotted into slightly larger pots with fresh new soil once a year. Larger houseplants, or ones that are slower to grow can wait to be done every other Spring, or when they start to appear top heavy. You should still refresh the plant’s soil by replacing the top two or three inches once every year. This is called “top dressing”, and it replenishes the nutrients in a houseplant’s pot without disturbing its roots.

When choosing new pots always consider the following:

The new pot should only be one or two sizes slightly larger than the older planter- change is just as scary to our houseplants as it is for us! We don’t want to overwhelm the roots or the plant will focus more on spreading and growing out its roots instead of growing its foliage.

Always consider drainage when choosing a new pot. There are plenty of gorgeous vessels out there but always look for ones with drainage holes built into the bottom. Otherwise be sure to include a plastic insert that has drainage holes and is easy to remove each time your plant needs watering


Once you have chosen an appropriate new vessel follow these simple steps to repot: 

Water your plants two days before you plan on repotting. Damp soil will stick together- making removing the root ball easier and tidier.  If any roots are growing out of the drainage holes cut them away with sharp scissors.

Remove your plant from its old vessel carefully focusing your hold on the base of the plant. You may need to run a knife or your fingers around the perimeter of the planter to dislodge the soil.

Carefully shake and brush away approximately ⅓ of the pre-existing potting mix that may be sticking to the roots. The goal is to transplant your plant into as much fresh soil as possible!

Inspect the roots, if any of them appear to be rotten or dead carefully cut them away with sharp scissors. Roots affected by root rot are typically soft, slimy and may smell like mildew. They will not feel firm and pliable like healthy roots do and may simply fall off when touched.

Place your plant into its new home and pack your fresh replacement soil in and around the plant, enough so that the base and roots are well covered.

Water your plant well to moisten roots and to settle them into their new potting mix. Do not fertilize your newly potted plant for at least a month, especially if you have trimmed up the roots. This can cause shock damage to any exposed parts of the roots.

Step back and admire your handiwork! Remember to give your plants gentle words of encouragement and consider playing soothing music throughout the repotting process- as I’ve said before, change is just as hard for our houseplants!