Whether you are a new plant parent or not, the process of repotting your beloved plants will make you anxious. Moving plants from one pot to another, gives them a shock. But you might be shocked as well if the final result isn’t the desired. Plants need special treatment. They need soil full of nutrients to keep them healthy and help them grow. But you have to be careful when it comes to choosing the right one.
For example, succulents need soil that drains easily and is full of sand, pumice and perlite, while flowering plants need a mixture of compost, peat and topsoil. Do you know what you need to keep in mind while repotting your plants? We bet you know a thing or two, but better safe than sorry! In this guide you’re going to find out all the information you’re going to need about the whole process. Are you ready?
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Why is it important to repot your houseplants?
When talking about repotting a plant, it doesn’t necessarily mean changing its pot. The most important thing about repotting is changing its soil. While a plant is growing, its roots are growing too, and its needs for nutrients are increased. Having the plant in the same soil all the time, takes a toll on it’s ability to grow. As a matter of fact, you prevent its growing because the old soil has microbes and minerals that the plant has gotten used to. Thus, if you want to keep yours in the current planter, you have to add some fresh potting soil in there for a boost full of nutrients to help it maintain healthy roots.
What’s more, while plants grow larger, their roots grow too and become root-bound. As a result, they begin to grow in tight circles at the base, take up all of the space and end up passing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot. That’s when the larger pot comes out to play! In a bigger pot, the roots will have the needed space to grow.
Can you repot all kinds of plants?
But can you repot all your plants? Do they all need repotting? These two questions will probably come to mind next. The truth is that when you decide to move your plants into a new planter, you have to be somewhat careful. First, you need to know what type and size of pot to get for each plant.
Small plants don’t need to be repotted due to their low needs for water. However, if you move them to larger pots, this automatically means more soil and water. Overwatering is a trap that many people fall into. Be careful not to cause root rot to your favourite greenery. Always check with your plants needs and try to give them the best conditions to thrive. Overdoing it isn’t the right way.
How to repot your plants: Step by step guide
Repotting your plants isn’t such an easy process. However, you should follow some instructions to safely do it to your outdoor and indoor plants without damaging them. Whether you keep the old pot and you add some extra soil, or you repot your plants into a bigger one, you have to gather your supplies first:
- New pot
- Scissors or a sharp knife
- Fresh potting mix
- Lava rocks (in case you have a pot without drainage)
- Your gloves
Now, let’s see the steps you need to follow:
Step 1: Choosing the right pot
When selecting the pots for your plants, you should know that you can’t buy an oversized one. However, the new planters should be wider and deeper than the old pot to give your plants’ roots the extra space they need to grow.
Make sure that you don’t overdo it though! Planters shouldn’t be too large as they require more soil. Too much soil, in turn, requires more water. Overwatering your plants can lead to just getting the soil wet without the water reaching the roots. Also, you should get a pot with drainage holes at the bottom to drain out the excess water. Otherwise, if the roots are surrounding by too much water, they’ll rot.
Another important factor you should pay attention to while choosing the right pot is the material that it is made of. Opt for terracotta pots, which are porous and don’t maintain moisture or plastic pots for plants that love moisture, like ferns and Calathes.
Extra tip: If you choose a pot without drainage, you can lay the pot’s bottom with some lava rocks or gravel. This way, you will make space for water to drain and keep the roots safe.
Step 2: Fill the new planter with soil
Before placing the plant in the new pot, add a soil layer at the bottom and press it to remove any air. Next, you should add enough soil for each plant.
Extra tip: If your pot has drainage, before adding the soil, cover the bottom with a porous material like a coffee filter. This will prevent the soil from falling out and at the same time letting water drain.
Step 3: Remove the plant from the current pot
You should make smooth and gentle moves while removing a plant from a pot. First, you have to turn the plant sideways and hold it by the stems and leaves. Then, while holding your plant, tap the pot’s bottom to help it slide out. If you find it hard to remove them from the pot, you can use a knife to separate them.
Step 4: Prune the old roots
The roots will probably be tangled around the rootball. You have to remove any parts that are growing out of the core and then try to loosen and untangle them to grow outwards. Pruning the roots will help your plant thrive in its new home.
Step 5: Place the plant to the new pot
After pruning the roots, it’s time to put the plant into its new pot. Place the root ball on top of the fresh potting mix and in the centre. Add some more around the plant so that the top of the roots is secured. The roots should breathe, hence don’t press too hard. Also, you have to ensure that the surface of the rootball is below the rim of the pot.
Step 6: Water your plant
The final step is to water your plant. Watering will keep the rootball together and maintain the plant healthy. Avoid watering again in a short period of time. Give your plant some time to adjust (a week will be enough time) to its new environment.
When is the best time of the year to repot?
As a general rule of thumb, the best period to repot your plants is in late winter or early spring, before new growth begins. However, you should keep in mind that the repotting frequency differs whether a plant is young or old. Young and fast-growing plants need to be repotted every six months to a year, whilst the oldest ones every few years.
However, in most cases, your plants will show you when they need new soil or a bigger planter. In addition, multiple signs will help you understand what your plant needs. Thus, if you notice any of the following signs, you should act accordingly.
- If you notice your plants’ roots growing through the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot.
- When the roots push the plant up, and a part of it is out of the pot.
- While watering, the excess water is sitting on the top of the soil instead of being absorbed.
- Your plants are growing slower than normal.
- Your plants are top-heavy and fall over.
- If you see noticeable salt and mineral build-up on the plant or planter.
- The soil dries out faster, and your plants frequently need waterings.
Repotting should never make you nervous again. As long as you have the right pot size, the proper potting mix, and making smooth moves while moving the plant from its current pot to its new home, things will be just fine. In fact, your plants will be really happy. Following the steps we’ve just mentioned, your plants will grow, and you will keep enjoying them!