Repotting is crucial for plants that outgrow their containers and become root-bound to give them an additional space to grow and also to provide fresh soil as it can become depleted of nutrients over time. Repotting is a fun garden task and extremely therapeutic! For some people, it is the gardening version of meditation!
Repotting may seem like a simple task, but there’s always a risk that your plant may undergo stress and may not do well after repotting. So, carefully repot your plant to avoid any injury and to promote healthy growth in the new container.
We are going to pull back the curtain on how to repot your plants successfully without upsetting or killing them and explain what it means to choose the right pot and potting mix.
If you are unsure whether a repotting is needed, check out our blog- 5 signs that your plant needs repotting that we have made exclusively for those of us new to gardening. If you see any of these signs, your plants likely need repotting.
Once you’ve decided that you need to repot take these precautions to ensure a smooth transition.
- Plants newly bought from nursery should not be repotted at least a week or two.
- Water the plant the day before you plan to repot.
- Repot in evening hours to prevent shock during the day time.
Before you get started, make sure you have all the supplies you need. You don’t need much to repot, but you should have following things for successfully repotting your plants.
You will need:
- New bigger pot – Choose a container that is only one pot size larger than the current pot, if necessary and has drainage holes.
- Porous covering material – You will need these to cover the drainage holes in your new pot, broken pottery or a fine mesh screen works great. You can also use coffee filters or folded newspapers.
- Potting mix – You will need more soil when repotting into a bigger pot.
- Scissor or gardening shear– You might need to cut off excess roots to encourage continued root growth.
- Water – You will need to water the plant after repotting.
Here’s our step-by-step quickie guide to repotting your plants:
1. Choose the right container for your plant
Plants when become root-bound need more space to grow so as to support their top-heavy aerial parts. Make sure the new pot is only slightly bigger than the current pot and has drainage holes, otherwise your plants might get drowned in water and rot.
In general, you’ll want to increase your pot size by an inch or two. However, plants do not need bigger pots every time, sometimes plants just need refreshed soil to provide nutrients that become depleted overtime.
There are several containers available in the market such as plastic, terracotta, metal, and ceramic pots. Plastic and terracotta containers are the most widely used as they are the cheapest with good drainage promoting soil aeration and healthy growth of roots.
If you choose a terracotta pot, soak it in water for a while as porous terracotta pots tend to lose water faster from the soil and need frequent watering. If not watered your plant can dry out and eventually die. Soaking terracotta pots in water is a good trick to save your plant from drying away.
In case you opt for fancier metal or ceramic pots that do not have drainage holes, we would recommend growing the plant in a plastic pot and placing it inside the fancier pots. Be sure to use a plastic pot that is slightly smaller than the metal or ceramic pot such that it covers the growing plastic pot. This way, the plant won’t suffer from drainage problems and may grow happily!
2. Cover the drainage holes with a porous material
Cover the drainage holes of the new pot with a porous covering material (broken pottery pieces, fine mesh, coffee filter, or folded newspaper) which removes excess water and prevents soil from falling out.
3. Add potting mix into the new pot
Before you add the plant inside, add a base layer of moistened soil, so the roots have some space at the bottom to grow. In general, fill ¼ of the container with soil so that your plant has room without typing over the top.
You can buy potting mix soil from a store or make your own soil by simply mixing 1 part of garden soil,1 part of perlite (white small pebbles that will aerate the soil), and 1 part of compost or peat moss.
4. Remove the plant from the current growing pot
Remove the plant from the pot from its base carefully. Tilt the pot slightly downwards or turn it upside down while holding the top of the pot using your hand to smoothly remove the plant. If the existing pot is made of plastic, press the pot from outside to loosen it up from all sides. If your plant is tightly bound to the pot, use a knife and move it around the pot from inside to help separate the plant and the pot. Do not pull the plant out as it can put them in great stress.
5. Tease the roots
The most critical part in repotting is loosening the roots. This is a step that many people miss. If a plant is pot bound enough and you don’t loosen the root ball, the roots will have a hard time growing into the new soil in your bigger pot. Many people are scared to do this. Don’t be! What you should be scared of is if you don’t do this step. Plants repotted into a bigger pot do not have any roots at all in the new soil because their root balls were super pot-bound and were not loosened up.
If it is too tight to loosen, make some vertical cuts all around the root ball to encourage new root growth in the new soil.
You can cut off any older threadlike roots that are growing out extra-long of the core of the root ball. Do not cut the thicker roots as they form the main root system of a plant, cutting them can cause immense damage to the plant. Remove some of the soil surrounding the plant as it might be depleted of nutrients, so you’ll want to give it a fresh mix of soil to provide an optimum amount of nutrients.
6. Add plant
Place the plant on top in the center of the freshly added layer of soil in the new pot. Once it is perfectly positioned, add potting mix from all the sides securing the plant. Do not pack tight as plant roots need some air to breathe.
7. Water and care
After securing the plant in the new pot, water thoroughly to drain away from the drainage hole. Place the plant in the shade for at least a week, and then set the plant back to its spot and enjoy!
Pro tips for the first few days after repotting:
- Avoid over-watering. Water only when the soil feels dry.
- Keep it in shade as direct light can stress plants.
- Do not fertilize your plants for at least a month.
Now that you’ve repotted, your plant will be much happier and produce more growth, just make sure to continue to care for it!
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