Basic Plant Repotting

November 9, 2021

So it’s time to re-pot your plants. To be honest this was a bit scary for me. The only plant I’ve ever had to repot was my very small pink cactus (Pinky Tuscadero) and I don’t really count her because repotting very small plants is super easy and less messy. Yes. Messy. Be ready to set up your repotting station in an area where you can be messy even with a repotting mat. But before that let’s start with the basics.

Ask for help: If you’re ever confused with your plant, it’s okay to ask for help.  Don’t be shy to take them over to your local nursery to get more information on care and repotting processes.

Signs it’s time to re-pot: The major sign would be to check to see if the plant’s roots are growing out from the bottom of your plant pot. Seeing the roots grow through the drainage holes is a sure fire way to know it’s time. Another way to tell is no growth. If a plant is getting watered regularly depending on it’s needs and with optimal light you should see some sort of growth especially in the spring / summer time. Some plants also need repotting when the foliage starts to turn yellow. This is a tricky sign because this can also mean over watering. I would stick to checking the roots under the plant pot. 

Before repotting: Make sure your plant is in need of water. You want to re-pot when it is watering time. It’s a lot easier when the plant is dry to remove it from the pot.

What new pot size? You want to give your plants room to grow (because who wants to re-pot every spring?). I would say double the pot size you have currently for small to medium size plants and 2 to 3 sizes bigger for large plants. Pay attention to how quickly the plant(s) you are repotting grows. For example my rubber tree plants grow very quickly year round so they went from a size 5 pot size to a 10.  If your plant grows slower you can do 2 or 3 sizes bigger and you may be good. All plants are different so there are no right or wrong answers here, just personal preference when repotting.

What tools / accessories will I need? Tools are my favorite part. I love a good project. Let’s be honest this is the time we have to really show our plants we love them. We don’t want  to be unprepared. Here are the tools I use below.

  • Gloves: If you’re anything like me and don’t want dirt under your nails, this will be a blessing. It also helps if you’re repotting cacti as well.
  • Repotting Mat: A mat to lay down to minimize the mess that will happen on the floor or on a table. If you’re on a budget you can lay down a large unopened  trash bag.
  • Soil and or mixture: If you are not sure what soil to buy, try your local nursery for help. I take my plants to the nursery with me sometimes if I have questions too.
  • Gardening shears: When repotting your plants sometimes you need to do some trimming. Shears also help with propagating and much more.
  • Plant pot : When repotting I was told to go up 2 to 3 sizes bigger than your previous pot. Some say double the size (if you want a small tree in your house).
  • Watering can : The plants should be dry and need to be watered before repotting. To help with removing the plant from the original pot easier. Having a watering can ready to give your plants a good drink after a repotting process is key.
  • Rocks, sand, peat moss (optional) : These items are helpful to top your plants if you want to prevent pests. 
  • Plant Fertilizer : Some plants need some help with fertilizer to promote growth. I add a little to my watering can when repotting as a treat. 
  • Gardening tools: Some gardening tools come as a set like the one I found at homegoods came with a Trowel (looks like a small shovel) and Cultivator (looks like a small rake). The Trowel will help with replacing the soil to the new pot. The Cultivator helps more with bigger projects (bigger pots or in the garden).

What potting soil should I buy? SO. I totally cheat when it comes to soil. I usually buy a bag from my local nursery. I figure they’ve been doing this plant parent thing for like EVER. What I do look for is good drainage soil, but you can add more perlight and or peat moss (natural minerals) for better drainage to any soil. I also buy potting soil from Target (because: curbside) Home Depot is a great source as well.

Setting up your repotting station: It is very important that you pre-plan your repotting station because if you’re lazy like me you’ll have to keep getting up to get something. I usually set-up what I need the night before so all I need to get started are my plants. * Insert Picture *

Repotting process: The number one thing to remember is to be gentle with those roots. Your plants are a living thing so remember that when gently removing the old pot from your plant. Take off as much of the old soil as you can. Add some soil to the bottom of the plant pot, add your plant back to the pot and top off the plant with more soil. Remember to leave some space on the top of your plant pot.

Water and shower: After you have successfully repotted your plant make sure to give them a good drink. My plants love distilled water. Distilled water is good for helping with toxic buildup in your plants, but rain water is the best. The tap water in my area is too hard for my plants so I just buy the distilled water. Thinking of getting a Britta. I also like to pop them in the shower to wash off the foliage. Trust me they’ll love it!

Conclusion: Now it’s your turn. Let me know how it goes. Do you re-pot differently? What’s your secret sauce? What plants do you have? Give me all the details! Well, That’s all I got. Remember to clean your camera lens before taking photos.