How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?

how do you know if your plant needs a new pot

How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?| July 2018
|Our Green Sanctuary Blog

Don’t feel daunted if your plant needs a new pot. Without speaking about a particular plant, most houseplants will require repotting every 6-12 months. So, how do you know when your plant needs a new pot? There are a few signs your houseplant needs a new pot, and depending on how fast your plants grow, will determine how often repotting is required. I’ll take you through the main indicators your houseplant needs a new pot and offer a few tips along the way.

My first tip is, where possible, repot your house plants in spring. The roots will then actively grow into their new soil, and this will minimise the risk of transplant shock. What is transplant shock you might ask? If your plant shows signs of stress after transplanting it may be experiencing transplant shock. This could include wilting, so ensure not to overwater newly potted plants.

This is my parents Dracena, the plant had stalled growing and was looking quite sad.

How do you know if your plant needs a new pot?

To determine when your plant needs a new pot, consider the following:

How often do you need to water the plant? Plants which are thirsty can indicate its time for repotting, as the roots are taking up most of the room in the pot, there is less soil to hold moisture.

An easy way to determine whether a plant is ready for a new pot, is by looking at the soil at the top of the pot for signs of roots. You can move or scrape the soil at the top of the pot and feel any roots that have moved to the surface. Can you see roots growing through the holes in the bottom or showing at the surface of the soil? Roots showing in these areas is a clear indication the plant is becoming pot bound and should be repotted as soon as possible. 

Does the plant appear to have stopped or stalled growing? This will be less obvious in winter, but during the growing season if your plant seems to stall or growth has slowed even with regular fertiliser and the right care. 

roots on the surface of the soil

Can you see the veiny roots on the surface of the soil?

Choose the right container.

Choosing the right container for your pot is an important consideration before repotting.

You will need to think about:

The size of the container. Don’t pot up into a container too large as the plant may look out of balance and the extra soil will hold additional moisture 

this container has two drainage holes

This container has two drainage holes

It's about one and a half times larger than the current container

It's about one and a half times larger than the current container.

Sometimes you may find a plant has been in a pot for a little too long and is starting to or has become root bound. In this case, it’s definitely best to repot the plant into a pot 1 and a half, to 2 times larger than the original container. If the roots are really bound, gently tease or cut to separate them so they continue to grow into the new pot, I would suggest to check youtube for some advice about your particular plant if this is the case. 

The roots are quite bound

The roots are quite bound

So I used this tool to help separate them

So I used this tool to help separate them.

I gently teased out some roots to encourage growth

I gently teased out some roots to encourage growth.

What material is the container is made of? I usually choose lightweight containers for my house plants so they are easy for me to move when watering and taking photos. Terracotta containers can also help dry out soil quicker, so may not be suitable for all houseplants. There is also specialised potting mix you can purchase for terracotta containers.

Another reason I repot my plants is because I want them to look good in my home! The colour and style of the container should be of your preference. The container should suit the plant size, style and your home decor. 

Why should you repot your plants?

Often when you bring home a new plant from the nursery, garden centre or wherever you buy your plants, it may need repotting. It’s good to repot new plants for a few reasons. You can check the plants roots and see if they are healthy, free from root rot and any disease.  You can also ensure the soil is free from bugs and plant your new houseplant in premium potting mix to give it all the nutrients, fertilizers & trace elements it needs to keep blooming and growing. 

We lined the base with fresh potting mix before transplanting

We lined the base with fresh potting mix before transplanting.

Speaking of potting mix.

The soil you use when repotting is definitely an important factor. Specialised potting mixes are available for a variety of houseplants and should be used where available. Alternatively, premium potting mix has all the nutrients, fertilizers & trace elements for great all round plant health. Always add fresh soil in with the existing plant soil when repotting. I don’t recommend recycling soil in case of disease, I add any used soil to the compost heap and recycle it for the garden. 

Finally fertilise & water.

If you follow all the steps above, you might also like to fertilize your newly potted plant. A new pot provides room for growth, so feeding up your plant with a suitable liquid plant food or slow release fertiliser will encourage your plant to grow.

So now you know what to look for when your plant needs a new pot, and what to consider when repotting, I’ll share the final rule for potting up a plant. Always water your plant as soon as it has been repotted. This is important for two reasons, firstly it will stimulate the roots so they grow into their new home, and secondly it will compact the soil into the pot so you’ll know if you need to add a bit extra. 

After repotting and a drink, I removed all the damaged foliage. My parents were very happy!

After repotting and a drink, I removed a lot of the damaged foliage. My parents were very happy!

Repotting your houseplants is a fairly simple process. If you remember the tips above, your houseplants will continue to flourish year after year. 

How often do you repot your houseplants?

Share your tips in the comments below!

Rachel 

Our Green Sanctuary

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