How to repot your favorite plants when they get too big

When your plant begins to wilt, wither, or overextend itself beyond its pot, it usually means it’s time to transfer it to a new home. Repotting your plants doesn’t have to be stressful. If you take careful measures to protect you and your leafy friend, you can have a plant that lives for years to come.

Below is a step-by-step guide on repotting your favorite plants to increase their lifespan and create a healthier home that encourages growth.

person repotting houseplant with garden tools

Why you should repot your plants

If you’re wondering why or how to repot old plants, then you’re not alone. Many people aren’t sure what difference repotting makes for their plants. Here are a few reasons you should consider repotting about once a year.

Small pots stunt growth

As your plant grows, its roots grow as well. Small pots condense root growth and inevitably stunt your plant in the long run. This is because the plant requires its roots to be as close to the size of its above-ground portion as possible to ensure there is adequate water intake for survival.

If a pot is too small, the plant will stop growing to preserve its ability to survive. Stunted growth may not sound like an issue, but it could lead to death later on.

You could kill your plant

As we mentioned above, stunted growth due to a small pot is a surefire path to plant death. However, it isn’t just stunted growth that causes a hindrance.

As the plant grows, its roots soak up vital nutrients in the soil that keep it healthy and strong. Over time, the nutrients in the soil are depleted. Repotting your plant now and again re-introduces key nutrients to the roots, allowing your plant to thrive.

What to know before repotting

Before you repot your plant, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, you don’t have to swap out the pot for a bigger one. Most plants are completely fine living in their current pot. This is good news if you love the pot the plant is currently residing in.

However, if your plant seems too big or you deem it necessary to transfer the plant to a larger home, it’s important to remember not to go too big too fast. Try opting for a pot only three to six inches larger than the old one. This will prevent the chance of overwatering to compensate for the increase of soil. Often, we overwater our plants when they have more soil, thinking we need to saturate as much as we can. This kills our plants.

Instead, maintain your regular watering routine and only repot to a pot that is larger by a couple of inches.

person holding pot while transplanting plantHow to repot your plants

Before you begin repotting your plant, make sure you have all of the tools you’ll need.

  • Your plant
  • Fresh potting mix
  • The old or new planter

The most important thing to remember when repotting your plant is to be gentle and take your time. You don’t want to stress out your plant or break off leaves and stems. Remember to act slowly and remain gentle with your houseplant.

Step one: Remove the plant

First, you’ll need to remove your plant from its old pot. Tilt the plant and pot sideways and hold the plant at its base. Be sure to hold the stems and leaves securely without adding too much pressure. Gently tap the bottom of the pot to loosen the plant. If you’re having trouble, gently tug on the plant to pull it out. It should slide out easily.

Step two: Remove old soil

Next, you’ll want to remove the old soil from the pot and the roots. Stretch out the roots if they are coiled together and trim any long ends. Be sure to leave the thicker, primary roots of the plant alone.

Shake off about one-third or more of the old soil and empty the pot. Your plant likely removed all of the valuable nutrients in the soil, so it’s best to clear it away to make room for the new potting mix.

Step three: Add new soil

Now, you’ll add the new potting mix to the new or old pot. If your new pot doesn’t have a drainage system, lay down some rocks on the bottom to protect your plant’s roots from excessive moisture.

Step four: Add your plant

Add your plant to the new pot and top it off with the new potting mix. Make sure you secure the plant in the pot and do your best to keep it centered. You don’t need to add a lot of soil. Just add enough to keep the plant secure and standing upright.

Step five: Water

Finally, you’ll need to water your plant. Give it a thorough drink to moisten the new soil. Once you’ve watered your plant, place it back in its original location or recommended lighting and water normally.

Following these steps will ensure that your plant remains healthy and strong. Monitor your plant for any signs of stress like wilting or dying leaves. While this reaction is expected, it shouldn’t continue for weeks. If it does, examine your watering habits and ensure that you aren’t overwatering due to a larger pot. In time, your plant will grow accustomed to its new home and will grow and thrive as it should.

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