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5-signs That Your Plant Needs Repotting

5-signs That Your Plant Needs Repotting

One of the top questions we get! “How to know when to repot a plant?” Well, knowing, when a plant needs repotting, is a task in itself, and almost all gardening beginners struggle to determine the right time to move their plant into a bigger pot.  

Repotting literally means replanting plants from one container to another. Container-grown plants occasionally require repotting as they tend to outgrow and become root-bound (also called pot-bound) their pots leading to a lack of soil and nutrient.  Plants are generally repotted for two main reasons either to encourage healthy growth by sizing up the pot or for planting them into a nicer container. Outside of these reasons, repotting your plant unnecessarily can cause way more damage than good. 

Usually, small, rapidly growing plants require repotting into larger containers every four to five months. You can repot mature houseplants on an annual basis or allow them to remain in containers until they have outgrown them or become pot-bound. If a plant is not doing well, and no obvious reason can be found, it may benefit from repotting.  

Check your plants once in a while for the following signs, and if its close to being pot-bound or root-bound, it may be time for your plant to move into a bigger home!  

1. Roots protruding from the bottom of the pot 

Roots protruding from the bottom of the pot

If you see a lot of roots coming out through drainage holes which indicates that the plant is pot-bound and it is looking for a new pot. Plants become pot bound when their roots are prevented from further growth by the pot barrier and compact masses of roots get entangled around the root ball. However, checking the bottom of the growing pot for root escapees isn’t always the true measure of whether a plant needs repotting. some like a snug-fitting pot that doesn’t grow massive for example, emerald palm tends to develop thick, bulbous roots that rarely escape out of the bottom, but you’ll get surprised if you pull one that’s not been repotted for a while out of its pot! These guys are tough and like it a bit cramped, so no need to panic, but if there’s practically no soil left, it’s time to repot! And until you repot, go easy on the water, or root rot could develop pretty quickly. 

2. Plants growing slower than normal  

Plants growing slower than normal
Eyeem/Getty Images

One of the first indicators is the plant’s health declining characterized by some nutrient deficiencies like yellowing, crumbling, or dropping of both new and old leaves leading to slower growth than usual, especially during growing seasons. This happens due to lack of soil and nutrients as pot-bound plants tend to have more roots than soil. So, they do not get the proper amount of nutrients to grow and thrive.   

3. Plant extremely top-heavy and falls over easily 

Plant extremely top-heavy and falls over easily

Plants out-grown too tall for their pot size usually tend to tip over easily. When above-ground parts of the plant take up more than three times the pot space,  this indicates that your plant might be terribly pot-bound and dying for a bigger pot! Large container plants should be repotted every two years. This prevents the plant from becoming pot-bound. 

4. Soil dries out quickly  

Soil dries out quickly
Vorona/Stock Photo

When you find that the soil dries out more quickly than usual, requiring more frequent waterings. This happens when there’s no enough soil to absorb or catch the water. Plants show sick appearance like wilting or drooping as they are not able to draw enough water from the soil. If you see these signs, your plants likely need repotting. 

5. Roots forcing the plant up and out of the planter 

Roots forcing the plant up and out of the planter

When plants grown in containers,  expand their roots outward from the bottom and sides of the plant, encircling the pot from inside and forming a dense mass of roots that eventually takes over the container and pushes the plant up and out of the planter indicating that the plant badly needs a bigger pot.  

If you see one or more of these signs, give your plant some love and repot your plant into at least 2 inches up a pot. 

Here are a few helpful tips to ensure a smooth transition of your plant from one pot to another.  

  • Water a day or two before repotting. 
  • Always move your plant to a container that is only one pot size larger if necessary.  
  • Tease some roots away from the root ball to stimulate lateral root growth. 
  • Water the plant after repotting and place it in the shade for at least a week.  

Handle plants carefully when repotting to avoid injury and to provide optimum growth in the new container. When repotting, consider important factors like size and condition of the plant, size and type of container, type and amount of soil mixture, and prevention of damage to the plant. 

If you’re completely clueless about how to repot, maybe you should have a look at this-Repot your plants (without stressing it) blog we have made exclusively for gardening beginners. Be sure to sign up for our blog updates or our weekly newsletter to get updates on the latest posts. 

That’s all there is to it! We hope this must have helped you understand a little plants’ language and you would probably take the guesswork out of when to repot plants!  

Do you have any desperate repotting duties? Let us know in the comment section. 

Happy growing! 

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Donald Clark - February 28, 2024

Thanks for letting me know when to repot my plants

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