Garden Advice

How and When to Repot Your Plant

Do you have a plant that doesn’t look as great as it used to a few years ago? Have you noticed some of the leaves are pale, yellow, or wilting? If you haven’t changed the environment, or the way you water, perhaps it’s time to take a closer look at the roots and find out if it needs repotting.

There is only one way to know for sure if your plant needs a bigger pot and that’s to take a look underneath. Support the base of the plant (where the stem meets the soil) between your fingers and tip the pot upside-down. Tap the bottom of the pot with your other hand and give it a little squeeze. The plant should release from the pot into your hands. Overgrown roots will have begun to circle inside the pot and form a mass at the bottom.

Now you have the plant out of the pot, it’s a good time to check the health of the roots and the soil for signs of pests or disease. Gently tease out the roots that are tightly packed around the edges and the bottom. If any of the roots feel mushy, these should be carefully cut away, taking care not to damage any of the other roots. Shake away some of the excess soil.

Before you repot, think about what type of pot you want to use. It should always have at least one drainage hole and shouldn’t be more than one or two sizes bigger than the previous one. Plants which are put into much larger pots can suffer from rot due to the volume of water used.

If you’re using a terracotta pot with a single drainage hole, place a stone or piece of weed membrane in the base to stop the soil from falling out. A plastic pot won’t need this. Fill the pot with house plant soil, leaving enough room for the plant to be placed inside. Gently place the plant into the new pot, making sure the top of the root ball is at least 1/2″ below the rim of the pot, so that it won’t overflow when you water it. Using a spoon or trowel, add soil to fill in around the edges so your plant sits firmly in place.

The final step is to give your plant a drink. Pour the water through the soil until it’s flowing out of the bottom of the drainage holes. Then place it away from direct sunlight and leave it to acclimatise.

Plastic pots aren’t the most attractive to look at, so I recommend finding a basket or cover pot to sit it in. I source most of mine from second-hand shops as they are unique and cheaper than buying new ones.

Large plants can be kept in the same pot for years, but to remain healthy they need their roots lightly trimmed back from around the edges of their pot. Once pruned, remove some of the soil and replace with fresh soil. Add in some slow-release fertiliser then return them to their original pot.


Now you know all about re potting your plants. Let us know, in the comments below, if we’ve missed anything. Let’s start a conversation.

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