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A Guide to Repotting a Plant

Are your plants beginning to look a little cramped? It may be time to repot them! This can be a daunting task if you've never done it before, but it’s an important step to give your plants a fresh start. Perfect Plants has put together this easy step-by-step guide on how to repot a plant to ensure your greenery thrives in its new home.

When to repot plants

First up, how do you know when to repot your plants? The following tell-tale signs could indicate it’s time to start repotting.

  • Your plant becomes too big for its existing pot – you may notice it’s started to topple over easily. Check the bottom of the pot and often you’ll see the roots are pushing through the drainage holes.
  • Your plant is growing slower than in previous years – if it’s looking a little lack lustre, or appears thirstier than normal, this can be another key sign. Be aware, though, slow growth in winter is typical.
  • Your plant needs some fresh soil and nutrients – soil needs changing regularly to replace the nutrients that are absorbed by your plant. Sometimes you won’t change the plant’s container, but rather the soil within it.
  • You are changing your décor – there’s no shame in you outgrowing a pot before your plant does!

You can expect to repot a plant every 12-18 months or so. And it’s usually best time to repot your plant before spring approaches when it will enter its main growing phase. However, if you buy a plant in winter that is crying out for a new home, repot in a warm environment with care rather than leaving it until spring.

What do I need to repot a plant?

Collect the following equipment before you begin:

  • Tools – gloves, trowel, scissors, and a sharp knife.
  • High-quality potting soil – the soil you use should be specific to the type of plant you’re repotting. You can either use an all-purpose houseplant potting mix for foliage, or special mixes for plants such as orchids and African violets.
  • Pots – it’s important to get the size of your pot right when repotting a plant. Don’t be tempted to put your plant in a pot that is significantly bigger than its current one. Many plants won’t like the additional room and the extra soil could suffocate it.
  • Newspaper – covering your work surface with newspaper or plastic will make cleaning up much easier.

How do you repot a plant step by step?

There are seven main steps involved in repotting a plant.

Step 1

Start by sprinkling a small amount of water on your plant. This will help your plant and its roots slide easily out of the pot without damaging them.

Step 2

Carefully remove your plant from its existing pot. Turn the pot on its side, then use one hand to support the main stem and the other hand to slowly pull the pot away. Be careful not to pull the stem because this could cause damage to the plant.

Step 3

Massage the roots to loosen them. Use your fingers to gently separate any tightly coiled roots. This will help them spread out in their new pot, making it easier to absorb water and nutrients better. Be sure to cut off any rotten or dead roots and discard.

Step 4

Remove approximately one third of your plant’s old potting mix. If your plant is healthy and there are no signs of disease or pests, you can re-use a small amount of the existing soil in your new pot.

Step 5

Next, you’ll gradually add your fresh potting mix. Pack it down with your hands to remove any air pockets.

Step 6

Place your plant in its new pot. Carefully, but firmly, place your plant into its new home, add a bit more soil around it to secure your plant in place and pat the soil down using your hands. Don’t use too much soil as this will prevent the roots of your plant from being able to breathe.

Step 7

The final repotting step is to immediately give your plant a good drink of water. Plants can get stressed with the process of repotting so they will appreciate the refreshment. Let the water soak through the soil and out of the drainage holes at the bottom. Add a saucer or small container underneath your new pot for thirty minutes to allow your plant to soak up any excess into its new soil.

How to repot a plant – aftercare

It can take plants several weeks to settle into their new pots and recover from the repotting process. Watering regularly and keeping your plant away from direct sunlight can help them thrive. You should also monitor how wet the soil is to avoid overwatering and hold off on the fertiliser until your plant has adapted to its new container.

How do you repot a plant without killing it?

The main concern you’ll have when repotting a plant is disturbing the plant’s environment to the point where it won’t survive. If you want your plant to thrive, avoid making the following repotting mistakes:

  • Repotting a plant as soon as you bring it home – allow your new plant to adjust to your home’s environment, temperature, and lighting before moving it to a different pot.
  • Using oversized pots – a pot that is too big for your plant will take longer for the soil to drain and dry properly, making it more susceptible to rot.
  • Adding gravel to the bottom instead of proper drainage – gravel shouldn’t be used as a substitute for drainage holes. Gravel raises the soil’s wet area, bringing it closer to the roots and resulting in a lack of oxygen for your plant.
  • Repotting a plant in cold weather – plants can die if they are uprooted and moved to a new pot during harsh weather. If you must repot during winter, bring your plant inside, and keep warm during the process.
  • Choosing unsuitable soil – some plants require different soil to others. Research the correct soil for your plant before purchasing any.
  • Providing insufficient water and light – your plant’s needs are likely to change slightly after moving to a bigger pot. The more soil there is, the more water is required. Re-potted plants should always be kept out of direct sunlight for at least the first few weeks.

Perfect Plants is passionate about helping plant owners to provide a nourishing environment for their plants to grow. Feel free to browse our extensive selection of pots or contact us with any queries about how to repot a plant.  



By Parag Vidyarthi


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