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7 Easy Steps to Repotting Your Houseplants

7 Easy Steps to Repotting Your Houseplants

A Guide to Repotting Plants

The task you’ve been meaning to get around to, but argh maybe never do? (We know the story all too well). Whether you’re moving your babes up to a new vessel, or freshening up its current home, repotting your plants is the perfect weekend activity - one your plants will thank you for!

Not only will repotting, or potting up, give your houseplants a nutrient boost, it will allow more space for the plant to grow, prevent disease and mineral build ups, and create a stronger healthier plant. Here’s our tips on how to re-pot your houseplants to keep them as happy and healthy as possible.

Gardening tools and soil on cloth

A Step-by-Step Guide to Successfully Repotting Your Houseplants 

Step 1. Prepare your plant for re-potting

Water your plant thoroughly a day or two before you plan to re-pot. This will make it easier to get your plant out of its pot and make sure that it is hydrated beforehand. 

Step 2. Remove the plant from it's current pot

Tap the sides of the pot to loosen the roots and using two fingers to support the stem of the plant, gently tip the pot upside-down and tap the pot backwards. For highly root bound plants, slide a butter knife around the inside perimeter of your pot to loosen roots.

Shake away excess soil, making sure not to damage the roots. Clip off any brown, black or visibly damaged roots with clean sharp snips.

Step 3. Transplanting into the new pot

Next, add a layer of indoor potting mix to your new pot. If you’re repotting into the same planter, make sure to give it a good wash before re-introducing the plant, to prevent the spread of fungus or bacteria that might harm your plant.

You should have enough soil in the bottom of the pot to lift the plant to sit approx 1cm below the pot rim or at the same level it was in its current pot - please use a premium potting mix. Gently place the plant on top of this soil and fill in the spaces.

Step 4. Water

Water from above for the first few times to help the potting mix settle in. If you're using a self-watering pot, excess water gathers in the water well at the bottom. Only top up when the water has been taken up by the plant and there's none left in the well.

It might take your plant some time to get used to its new pad, so during the next week or so keep it out of bright light & let him settle in.

Scared you’ve got no green thumb? Add a Sustee watering checker to your pot to know when its time to water. These little guys are a really handy tool for the beginner plant owners. The key to a successful repot is to get the moisture levels right. Too wet is as equally bad as too dry.




There are three different ways to re-pot your plants.

1. Moving up a size

Repotting your plants into a roomier space. For plants that need to stretch their roots, and have outgrown their old pot.

2. Freshen up

Repotting back into the same pot, but with fresh soil. They aren’t ready for a bigger space, but they could do with a little TLC.

3. Just the top layer

Refreshing just the top layer of the soil. This is for your already healthy, or larger plants that would benefit from a dose of new nutrients.

Roots coming out the drainage holes of a potted plant

 

How to Know When Your Plants Need Repotting?

Plants held in small containers for too long can fail to flourish (succulents or Bonsai are the exception), so consider advancing your plants on when the time is right. If your plant shows any of these signs, it’s time to move them into a new home

  • Roots are growing through the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter
  • Roots are pushing the plant up out of the planter
  • Plant is growing slower than normal (different than dormant)
  • Plant is extremely top-heavy, falls over easily
  • Plant dries out quicker than normal
  • Noticeable salt and mineral build-up on the plant or planter
  • Potting mix has slumped (or compacted) in the pot which means not enough air and oxygen for the roots


When is the best time to re-pot?

Can you repot your houseplants in winter? Should you repot plants after buying?
Plants generally like to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, but some slow growers can call the same pot home for years. While Spring is a great time to repot your houseplants as it’s growing season (you’ll see the benefits a lot quicker), that doesn’t mean it’s the only time.

Most houseplants don’t mind when you repot, as long as you aren’t exposing them to extreme conditions that can cause shock. Ie, don’t repot during a heatwave or a snowstorm.

A person repotting a succulent


How to Avoid Transplant Shock with Houseplants?

Transplant shock is where a plant does not cope well with a change in its environment. This is more of an issue in our garden where we decide that we no longer want that large shrub in that spot any more. We dig it up, which means damaging all those roots in the process, shift it to a location that has different conditions and it has to readjust to all these changes.

It is not as critical with indoor plants as we are not generally damaging the roots to any great extent, in fact, they usually thrive since it is getting fresh soil and nutrition. What you do need to watch is that you put it back into the same location after repotting until it settles into the new pot. This means it has the same light, temperature and air movement as what it had before. Giving your plants a liquid feed after potting is also helpful.

A collection of plastic pots for plants


How to Choose the Correct Size Pot for Repotting?

There are so many options to choose from when it comes to pots and planters. Here’s a few things to consider when choosing your plant’s new home.

Does size matter?

Well, sort of. If your plant has outgrown it's current home (bursting at the seams) don't be too generous in providing a new one, it’s best to gradually move up in pot size.

If you re-pot your plants into a too-larger pot, there is a risk that you will overwater. A smaller plant means fewer leaves, less transpiration and less water needed. If you have a pot with a large volume of soil compared to the size of the plant, chances are that you will keep the mass too wet and your poor little plant virtually drowns. Constant soggy soil means aeration around roots is poor, and this allows for fungal infection and root rot to set in.

For any sized plant that needs re-potting, we recommend shifting to a pot around
5-10cm larger in diameter than the rootball. If it is a very fast-growing plant you can get away with going a bit bigger. This gives your plant enough space for new root growth.

Hands pointing out the drainage holes on the bottom of a pot



Please people, just make sure your pot has a hole in it

Some pots have drainage; others do not. It’s a pretty straightforward distinction, and yet that little hole at the bottom of your pot can make a world of difference.

Drainage holes are crucial to your plant's health. But, is it possible to keep your plant in a pot without a drainage holes? Yes, but with caution. Watch our video on "how to create your own pot inserts for ANY planter/pot/vase with no hole.

Colour and Material

The material your new pot is made from and its colour can actually influence how often your plant needs to be watered. Here are some things that you’ll want to consider.

Unglazed terracotta pots are porous - so the water will evaporate through the fine holes in the clay sides. This means the soil will dry out faster than plastic or ceramic pots. Hanging baskets also tend to dry out faster especially the wire and coir ones.

If you have dark coloured pots out on your balcony or deck, they will heat up by absorbing the sun's rays and dry out faster than their lighter-coloured counterparts. This is not such an issue for indoor plants as they are usually not getting that direct, intense sun.

Ready to repot? Check out this great range of pots
 

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