“When should I repot my houseplants?”
It is a question most plant enthusiasts eventually have.
Indoor plants can happily occupy the same pot for years. In fact, slow-growing plants (such as snake plants, Chinese money plants, and aloe vera) only need to be repotted every two to three years. However, when a plant gets big and leafy with healthy foliage and strong roots, it will start to feel cramped.
But this is a good problem to have!
It means your houseplant is thriving in its environment.
So, to continue keeping your plants happy, The Plant Dads is here with everything you need to know about when to repot plants, plus some helpful tips on how to repot plants without killing them.
Let’s jump in.
6 Signs It’s Definitely Time to Repot
A general rule of green thumb (see what we did there?) is to repot your indoor plants in the spring through late summer. This is because plants are actively growing. Warmer temperatures, brighter light, and longer days all set your plants up for repotting success. Most plants are repotted every 12 to18 months. Yet if your plant is showing any of the following signs, it could be time to invest in a larger container and fresh potting soil.
Be on the lookout for:
- Roots coming out of the bottom of the pot
The #1 way to tell if your plant could benefit from repotting is: check the roots. See long roots escaping from drainage holes? It needs more room. Otherwise, the roots could block water drainage and lead to root rot.
- Soil that dries out faster than normal
Secondly, monitor the soil. All plants have different watering requirements. For example, cacti prefer dry whereas carnivorous pitcher plants love wet, boggy conditions.
If your houseplant is thirsty (despite regular watering) and dries out quickly, this could be a sign to repot.
- Yellow Leaves
Third, watch for yellow leaves. When roots can’t breathe, they suffocate. Compacted roots may be causing a color change in your plant.
- No more growth
Next, has it been a long time since your plant produced a new leaf? Plants that grow slower than normal could be experiencing potting problems. Try a bigger container. New space can stimulate growth.
- Salt and mineral buildup
Another way to figure out if your plant needs to be repotted is to look for white crystals. Salt accumulation will leave an ugly crust. And it can injure your plants! One cure is to transfer to a pot with completely new soil.
- A plant that seems to be raised or “floating”
Thick roots balled too tightly together will push a plant up. As the roots desperately try to expand, the soil is shifted. The result is a lopsided or flimsy houseplant that appears to be raised out of the pot.
Quick Tips to Safely Repot
Unfortunately, repotting can be tough on plants. To repot plants without killing them, follow these steps:
- Avoid repotting on extremely hot or cold days
- Choose an appropriate pot size. One to two inches bigger in diameter is ideal.
- Squeeze the original pot or lay horizontal to ease it out
- Gently loosen up roots by hand
- Cut back any dead / dying roots with scissors
- Use a high-quality potting mix to combine old and new soil
Lastly, give your plant a deep drink of water. These tips will minimize the risk of root shock. Or accidently killing your plant!
Ready to Repot? The Plant Dads Can Help
There you have it.
An easy-to-follow guide on when to repot plants.
About the Author
Jen is a professional freelance writer from Canada. She loves growing exotic and unusual plants and teaching people how to embrace their “green thumb.” You can contact Jen here.