Repot a Houseplant Checklist

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Houseplants are an easy way to bring nature indoors, to add a little green to your color scheme, and to bring extra oxygen to your atmosphere. When your plants outgrow their pots, it’s important to repot them because the roots have a difficult time absorbing the nutrients and water they need to support further growth. That’s why you see plants turn brown, droop and stop growing. Many people complain about not having a green thumb, but all you need to do is give plants a bigger pot to grow in. It’s recommended that you repot plants in the spring because that’s when the roots grow the most and you have a better shot at preventing the plants from going into shock. Follow these simple steps repot a houseplant to give your plant a new home!

Preparation

  • Materials. The professionals recommend you get a pot that is around 2 inches in diameter larger than your old pot. You do not want to go much larger than that. You’ll need some fluffy potting soil, one that holds moisture and that gives the roots a complete balance of moisture, nutrients, and air. The idea is to anchor the roots with the soil. A watering can or hose is good to have around, too.
  • Water. Several days before you plan to repot your plant, be sure to water it well.
  • Clothing. Wear something you don’t mind getting dirty in. An old tee shirt and some worn out blue jeans work well.
  • Location. Find a spot outdoors for the process, as it tends to be a little messy. A carport, driveway, front or back yard or deck will do just fine.
  • Weather. Ideally, you’ll want to do this in warmer temperatures or the plant may experience some shock.
  • Tools. A local nursery or hardware store should have a flat-bladed tool for repotting plants. A good alternative is a butter knife from your kitchen.

Process

  • Plant removal. Turn the pot upside down and carefully remove the plant. It helps to hold on to the main stem. If there is any resistance, grab your tool (or butter knife) and use it along the inside edges of the pot to loosen the roots and soil. Try removing the plant once again.
  • Root pruning. Sometimes the roots are knotted or coiled around the bottom because they’ve had no room to stretch out. Gently, use your fingers to untangle them a little, and then prune the roots. By pruning them, you will help stimulate them to grow new roots and the transition will be much smoother.
  • Add new soil. Take your fresh, fluffy potting soil and add it to the bottom of the larger pot. Be sure to pack it well around the hole where the water drains. Move the plant to it’s new home. You may need to make some adjustments with the soil mix. You want the plant to be positioned in the same way that it was in the old pot. If you need to add more soil to fill it in, this is the time to do it. Once you’ve got the plant where you want it to be, use a generous amount of water on it.

Aftercare

  • Stress. The plant may go through a little bit of stress from the transition. You’ll know this if it’s wilting or turning brown. It’s best to keep the plant in a shady spot for five to seven days to give it a chance to rest. High humidity can help it overcome stress, too. A small humidifier, humidity tray or plant mister will help.
  • Don’t overwater. Keep the soil moist, but not soggy. If the leaves become yellow, you’re watering it too much. If the leaves are wilting you’re not watering it enough.
  • Don’t fertilize. Never ever fertilize a plant that has been newly repotted. The roots are sensitive and can be burned by the fertilizer. Wait a month before fertilizing it so that the plant’s root system can become established.

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