March 25, 2023

How to repot your houseplants to let them thrive

By Kaitlyn Seawood

A root is growing through the drainage whole of this pot. That means it’s time to replant. Photos by Kaitlyn Seawood

Everything appreciates a little more space to breathe … especially houseplants.

It may be time to start thinking about repotting your plants, so that they can achieve their full potential. Repotting plants has numerous advantages for the overall health of your plants. By repotting, you can detect and reduce the risk of diseases like root rot and avoid unhealthy saturated soil.

A plant will ultimately outgrow its pot, as is natural for any healthy plant. Here are some signs to look for, which may indicate your plant is ready for a new home:

• Roots growing through the drainage hole

• Roots are pushing the plant up out of the planter

• Plant-to-pot ratio is off

• Plant is starting to yellow or lose leaves

Maintaining a regular repotting schedule when your plants exhibit any of these symptoms will allow the growth of new and healthy roots. Replenishing with new soil will add nutrients that your plants will also appreciate.

Once you’ve identified that your plant is ready to be moved, here’s out to do so:

• Find a pot larger in width than the plant’s current pot.

The pot on the left will make a suitable new home for the plant on the right.

• Be sure that your new pot has drainage holes at the bottom, to avoid overwatering.

• Add fresh potting soil into the new pot and pack it down, adding enough so the top of the root ball is a few inches below the rim.

• Carefully ease your plant out of its current pot. You can gently pat on the sides of the old pot to encourage the root ball to loosen.

This plant has been successfully removed from its old pot.

• Gently untangle the roots and remove old soil, leaving the roots exposed.

The plant’s roots are now cleaned and exposed, and the plant is ready to be repotted.

• Place your plant into the new pot and add soil around the roots until the plant is securely standing upright. Gently press down on soil to remove air pockets.

• Continue to fill with soil, leaving about an inch or two of space from the rim of the pot. Overfilling with soil will make it more difficult to water the plant.

This plant has been successfully repotted.

Important: Plants may appear wilted and thirsty but refrain from watering for about a week after repotting to ensure the roots have not been damaged during the process. During this recovery period, place plants in a cooler shaded spot. Watering your plant a few days before repotting will help ease your plant out of its current pot.

Also, be sure to check which type of soil is best for the type of plant you have. For example, standard potting soil contains too much moisture for succulents and cactuses, which require fast-draining soil that retains little moisture. Soil can be mixed with mineral grit to produce well-draining soil.

So, check on those houseplants. If they look uncomfortable, repot them to encourage new development and keep them healthy. Your plant will thank you by brightening up your home, improving air quality, and benefiting your own health and happiness.

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