How To Repot Your Plant The Right Way: Step-by-Step Guide

House plants repotting materials.

When your plant is overgrown and you also want to rearrange up your decor, repotting is the answer to avoid suffocating out your plants. Repotting your plants can be a little bit tricky. But no worries, for we have a few tips to make your new arrangement a success. Let’s begin!

Repotting does not mean changing only your plants’ container. It is replacing the soil that loses nutrients over time.

Also, if you are planning on reusing your prevailing planters for repotting – that is fine, and if you’re considering getting a new one, that’s cool too!

If you’ve decided to change new planters, considering its size is also important. Ideal size for a tabletop planter is 3″ larger in diameter and not more than 6″ larger for floor planters.

Pick a container that has a drainage hole at the bottom. It will help drain excess water and save your plants from rotting and drowning.

When To Repot Your Plant

Succulent with its bound roots.
Image by:

You’ll know it’s time to repot when you see one or any combination of these:

  • Roots start to crawl out through the drainage hole of your planters. 
  • Roots are big enough to drive up the plant, out of the planter. 
  • The plant is growing slower than usual.
  • Your plant is now extremely top-heavy and tends to fall off over easily. 
  • It requires to water your plants daily and dries out quicker than usual.
  • The parts of your plant take up more than three times the space of your pot. 
  • You can see salt and mineral build-up on the plant or planter.

From 12 months up to 18 months is the usual demand to repot a plant. But, some growers can have the same pot at home for years.  The safest and the best conditions to repot your houseplant is the beginning of spring or the end of fall. Try to repot your houseplants in early spring before the growing season starts.

How To Repot Your Plant (Step-by-Step)

Now that you know when to repot, are you now excited to know how to repot the right way? Then go ahead and check our step-by-step guide below.

You need:

  • A houseplant
  • Fresh potting mix
  • A planter (you can pick any color or materials but be mindful of the size)
  • Scissors or pruning shears
  • A watering can  or spray bottle
  • Newspapers

12 Steps to Repot

A woman repots the plant with fresh potting mix.
Image by: Gardening Solutions
  1. Water your plants deeply a day before you repot. 
  2. Pre-moisten the loam if it seems dry. 
  3. Hold your plants gently by the stems and tap the bottom of its current container, as you turn your plant sideways. Continue until the plant slides out.
  4. Loosen its roots and cut any that are extra long.
  5. If the roots of your plants are growing tight around the base of your planters, be gentle to unbind them by tearing the roots slowly. Be careful not to damage its stem or buds.
  6. Remove at least 1/3 of the old soil in your planter.
  7.  Pour a layer of fresh, pre-moistened potting mix into the planter and slowly press down.
  8. Set your plant at the center of your planter on top of the fresh potting mix.
  9. Gradually add more soil around the plant until it is secured.  
  10. Don’t toss too much soil into the planter as you want the roots to breathe.
  11. Leave at least one to two inches of space below the rim if you’re using larger pots. Too much soil will give you a hard time to water your plants properly, as water will spill on the sides of the planters without ever soaking in.
  12. Even out the potting soil on top, water well, and let it drain.

You Must Avoid Transplant Shock

Newly transplanted tomato seedling suffering from transplant shock.

Overgrown plants need to be transplanted to get back into their usual shape. But plants that are transplanted incorrectly can suffer from repotting stress. Wilted leaves, yellow leaves, dropped leaves, and failure to flourish are signs of the plants’ stress. It takes time and extra care to heal.

When plants are stressed and die as a result of transplanting, you can call it death from transplant shock. Transplant shock can happen to seedlings, bedding plants, houseplants, and even newly planted trees.

When your plants have indications like wilted leaves after repotting, you’ll know you’ve done it wrong. One of the most common mistakes plant growers make is when they repot before the plants are about to bloom. Repotting at this time is not advisable, so always avoid replanting in the summer.

Here are a few more reasons why your newly repotted plant suffers from transplant shock:

  • Using other types of soil than your plant previously lived in can cause transplant shock.
  • Putting your plant under various lighting conditions right after transplanting can contribute to its stress too.
  • Leaving the roots exposed to air for some time during the transplant process can be a reason for this too.

Be Cautious of Plant Stress

The plant's yellow leaves indicates plant stress.

When we move plants from one place to another, it horrifies them. It’s hard for new transplants to adjust to their new environment.

Follow these steps, and you’ll surely have healthy and happy plants back into life.

  • The very first thing to bear in mind is to avoid moving the plant unnecessarily.
  • Place newly repotted plants at the same spot it used to occupy. Getting the same temperature and lighting conditions it had before helps the plants cope from stress.
  • Provide a dose of water-soluble fertilizer. 
  • Finally, snap off all dead leaves to make room for new parts to grow.

Avoid Plant Dehydration

Flower plant in full sun.

If the leaves of your plants are falling off and the plant itself looks saggy, it is a sign that your plant suffers from dehydration for not getting enough water.

Water your plants slowly until the soil is fully saturated, and let it dry out before watering again. Also, an indoor plant likes warm water. As such, hot or cold water can harm the plants.

Avoid dumping water on your pot all at once, it instantly flows through and comes out the bottom, leaving your plants soil unsaturated. 

Try Not To Overwater Your Plant

If the leaves of your plants are turning yellow, it indicates the soil is always moist. You can see molds and powdery bugs growing at the base of your planters. All of these mean you are overwatering.

Roots sitting in the water, are what plants hate, that is why a planter should have a drainage hole at its bottom. A layer of lava rocks or pieces of broken terracotta can be an option too. These materials are porous, so they absorb excess water and release slowly.

Your Newly Potted Plant Needs Sufficient Sunlight

Flower plants in ceramic planters.

Learning what your plant needs before buying is the best way to make your plants happy- and only buy plants that accommodate the conditions you can offer. If you live in an apartment with no natural light or limited light, don’t get a plant that will only grow with plenty of direct sunshine.

Plants can get weaker and start losing leaves if they are not getting sufficient light. Most houseplants prefer moderate but enough light. If daylight in your home is not available, artificial light can make your plants happier. 

What If Your Pot is Too Small?

Newly transplanted large house plant.
Image By: Gardening Solutions

The size of your plant should be two-thirds above the dirt and one-third below it. Your soil should be 1-2 inches below the rim, so water won’t spill before seeping in when you pour it on your plants. These are general rules of thumb in choosing the right pot for your houseplants.

You May Need To Repot Large Houseplants

Like smaller plants, large houseplants need repotting too. It is necessary to replace the potting mix that loses its nutrients over fresh ones.  Even if your houseplant is already in a larger pot, you still need to refresh the potting mix. Repotting can also provide more room for roots since your large plant is constantly growing.

There are varieties of houseplants that can grow huge if given a larger pot, and you may not like it. Sometimes, plants grow lanky with droopy leaves in spite of being fed. Repotting using a fresh potting mixture is the answer to both cases.

Final Thoughts on How To Repot Your Plants

Knowing exactly when and how to repot your plants is essential to keep them healthy and in shape. As you can see, you don’t need a green thumb to give your plants the best shot at survival. 

Are there any other tips you want to add to our list? Don’t hesitate to share your thoughts on the comment section below. We would love to hear them too.

About Benita Abucejo

Hi there! My name is Benita Abucejo. What can I say? I truly love spending my days in the outdoors, specifically in the garden. Gardening has always been a strong passion of mine since I was a little girl. It has brought me so much joy and happiness that it is definitely safe to say that I will be a gardener for life. For a period of time, I was able to work with people who are into home gardening and I found it to be quite beneficial to my physical health, as well as my mental well-being. Here at Seasonal Preferences, I am going to share with you my experience and ideas so that you can fulfill yourself with the same satisfaction and happiness. Of course, if you have ideas, I would love to hear those as well! Being creative in the garden can really be quite fascinating so let's share our experiences and be the best gardeners we can be. With that being said, thank you for dropping by and please leave me a comment on one of my posts if you would like to get in touch!

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