Blog Indoor Plants How To Repot Indoor Plants

How to Repot Indoor Plants


There are times it may be necessary to repot your indoor houseplants, for various reasons. If you see signs of stunted growth in a plant, repotting may be a solution. 

However, often the goal of repotting houseplants is to simply change the soil. With fresh soil, your plant gains access to a fresh stock of nutrients essential for its healthy growth.

Another scenario is if the plant has outgrown its current planter, you may need to repot in a new planter. If that’s the case, always consider the dimensions of the plant before choosing a new planter. 

For a floor plant, the new planter should be 4 inches larger than the current size, at most. For a tabletop plant, there shouldn’t be more than a 2 inch increase in planter diameter. 

However, these are just general rules; in reality, the planter size should reflect the current size of the plant and take into account its growth rate. Just don’t go overboard and increase the size too much. 

More soil means more watering, while the watering needs of the plant remain the same. For help with a watering schedule, make sure to check out our app for guidance!

Photo by Kristygoldblatt

When Should You Repot an Indoor House Plant?

Most plants require repotting every year or year and a half, depending on their growth rate. However, even slow growing plants might need to be repotted every once in a while to refresh the soil. 

To know when it’s time to repot your indoor plants, keep a constant eye on two things––the roots of the plant and the behavior of the plant. When you see any of the below symptoms, time to repot! 

  • Salt and mineral buildup
  • Plant is top heavy and tips over easily
  • Plant dries out more quickly than usual
  • Plant grows slower than normal
  • Above ground part of plant is three times the size of the pot
  • Roots are pushing the plant upwards
  • Roots are growing through the drainage hole

The best time to repot a plant is before spring. The growth spurt during spring will help the plant to fill its new, bigger shoes.

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How to Repot Indoor Plants 

Step 1: Water Beforehand 

Water the plant a day before repotting. This will soften the soil and fertilizer, making it easier to remove it the next day. Be sure to check out our latest guide on the best fertilizer for indoor plants if you are in need of advice!

Step 2: Remove Plant

The first step in the repotting journey is to remove your plant from its current home. This should be done with extreme care to ensure minimal disturbance to the plant. 

To remove it from the planter, tip the planter to its side and tap the planter bottom. This will release the sides and bottom of the plant from the planter. You can then use the stems to gently tug the plant outward.  

Step 3: Detangle the Roots 

Once the plant is out, take a look at the roots. If you see signs of root rot or signs of infection, prune off the damaged areas and assess. However, if all seems well, you only need to loosen and trim off any excess roots. 

If the plant is root-bound––meaning the roots are growing in tight circles around the plant––use your hands to gently loosen and unbind the roots without damaging them. Remove any thin, extra-long roots, but make sure you keep the thick roots intact. 

Photo by Martin

Step 4: Remove the Potting Mix 

Regardless of your reason behind repotting, you need to remove at least 1/3 of the aged potting mix from the planter. The plant has already leeched out most of the nutrition from that soil anyway. However, don’t remove too much or it could cause a shock to the plant.

Step 5: Set Up the New Planter 

Set up the new planter beforehand so that it’s ready to go. Add layers of fresh or new soil into the planter and press it down to ensure there are no air spaces remaining. Fill the planter only enough to create a base for the plant. 

Choose the planter based on the requirements of the plant. For example, if it needs fast-draining soil, you might opt for a planter with a drainage hole. 

If you opt for a planter without a drainage hole, line the bottom of the planter with lava rocks to ensure there is enough space for the water to pool so it’s not pooled around the roots. Otherwise the water could settle at the bottom of the planter and cause root damage.

Photo by Alex

Step 6: Repot the Plant

Once everything is ready to go, repot the plant. Gently put the plant on top of the layer of fresh soil and ensure it’s sitting in the center. Then add potting mixture around the plant until no space is left. Settle down the potting mix but not too much. You need to leave some air space for the roots to breathe. 

Step 7: Water the Plant 

Pour water on top of the soil to nourish it thoroughly. This will also help settle the soil and potting mix, so it merges with the old potting mix around the plant. 

Repotting plants is a relatively simple, straight-forward process. With practice, it becomes easier and easier! 

Looking for more plant care tips? Check out our latest blogs on How to Use Grow Lights for Indoor Plants, How to Get Rid of Spider Mites on Indoor Plants and the top Safe Plants for Dogs and Cats.