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When To Repot Indoor Plants? (Signs, How-To & Other FAQs)

While growing houseplants, we sometimes forget about repotting. But, you must know, just like other requirements, repotting is also vital for keeping the plants healthy for a long-term basis. This article will help you understand when to repot your indoor plants and all other things regarding repotting.

Most houseplants need to be repotted once every 2-3 years, and the ideal time to repot your indoor plants shall be during the spring. Signs like frequent dehydration, droopiness, and roots coming out of the bottom of the pot, indicate that your plant is root-bound and needs repotting.

You cannot repot your plants anytime. There is an ideal time for it. Repotting at the wrong time can put unnecessary stress on your plant. It can also raise other issues. You should repot mainly during the springtime.

If you want to understand how repotting will help rejuvenate the growing conditions in the houseplants, keep reading this article till the end.



Why is repotting important?

Repotting helps in improving the health of the plants. When we repot our houseplants with a new medium, they get extra fuel to grow more profoundly, along with abundant blooms. 

Let us see how repotting is essential:

1. The plants get fresh soil and nutrients.

We use potting mixes, which are nutritious for the plants. But, as time goes by, the soil loses its nutrients. With every watering, the nutrients get washed away. The soil becomes more acidic over time. 

Even if we fertilize regularly, the soil won’t improve much. While repotting, use a new soil mix. This new soil gives the plant a nutrient boost. This will not only help your plant remain healthy but will also thrive.

2. Improves water flow. 

If you water your plant and it immediately comes out of the drainage holes, it means the plant is not getting the water. The water is not entering the root system. 

When the roots twist around each other, the plant becomes root-bound. This creates channels through which water flows and immediately drains from the drainage holes.

When repotted, the roots get extra space and twist no more. The water reaches the entire root system. However, some plants prefer remaining slightly root-bound for flowering, but it shouldn’t be extreme.

3. Space for growing and breathing. 

Your plant is constantly growing big. So you need bigger pots too so that you can give your plant and its roots can have enough space to grow freely and breathe flexibly. 

Repotting your plant to a pot size bigger than the existing one will encourage flexible growth and breathing.

4. Prevent diseases.

Disease and pests are common in all houseplants, and this happens when you overwater your plant for a long time. Repotting will help in avoiding diseases and pests if done before root rot reaches its extreme level. 

Remove the damaged roots and repot the plant in a new pot with fresh soil. This will help in keeping the diseases from reaching your plant.

5. Helps in propagation.

If you want more of your houseplants, propagating will help you do that. You will not propagate in the same pot. So, while repotting, take advantage and grow more plants. 

Separate the mother from the babies and plant the babies in new pots. You do not have to buy new plants repeatedly.



Signs that your plant needs repotting

Some plants enjoy growing in crowds, whereas some plants need good air circulation for healthy growth. Some plants enjoy being root bound, whereas some do not like being root bound at all.

In such situations, whether your plant needs repotting or not depends on the type that you own.

Some people do not understand when houseplants need repotting. Your plant will show some signs, which are indications that your houseplant needs repotting.

Overgrown roots

When the roots grow bigger than the pots, they start coming out of the drainage holes, or plants grow upward from the sides of the pot. This condition blocks the drainage holes. 

This situation might cause overwatering, and root rot as the water cannot find its way to pass out. Blocked drainage holes and roots coming out of it indicate that your plant needs more space for a flexible root system for growth.

Rootbound plant

First of all, rootbound plants show signs like yellow leaves, wilted leaves, or dry soil.

Before declaring that your plant is rootbound, check the roots. These signs are also seen in underwatered plants.

When you see that the roots have grown in a circular motion, it means the plant is rootbound. This is another clear signal that your plant wants more room and needs to be repotted.

Abnormal growth

Your plant is growing upwards. They are not spreading wide. Think about for how long have your plant been in the same pot like that. You will get your answer.

This is another sign that your plant does not have enough space to grow, and thus they start growing upward.

Another thing to keep a note of is its growth rate. Despite providing every requirement in adequate quantity and time, the plant might be growing slowly. The reason can be old soil. It could have been a long since you repotted the plant. So, it is high time for repotting.

Compact soil

When we water, the water is supposed to get into the soil, reaching the roots and the plants. But if the soil is compact, the water will not reach the roots. 

The water will stay over on the soil and evaporate. This happens if the soil gets very old. Compact soil is a sign that you will have to consider repotting.

Salt accumulation

Each time you fertilize your plant, it accumulates leftover salt and creates a layer over the soil. These salt layers will absorb all the water and won’t allow it to reach the roots.

However, you can solve this problem by flushing the soil. But as time goes by, the layer thickens, and sometimes, we forget to flush them off. The salt keeps accumulating. The soil becomes compact with time. In the end moment, flushing will not work. Repotting is the only way out.

How often should you repot your indoor plants?

Generally, repotting should be done every 2-3 years. But it varies from plant to plant. It is not the same for all types of houseplants. Blindly following the same schedule for all plants might shock the plant.

Slow-growing plants like succulents will not need repotting every year. Instead, they will perform well without being repotted for long 3 to 4 years.

If you own houseplants that grow very fast, they might need repotting every year. They will need fresh soil, a big pot, and more room for growing flexibly. Sometimes, they will need repotting every nine months. Being fast growers, they will expand quickly.

Fast-growing plants need not only space but also soil. With new soil, they will get fresh nutrients. The faster they grow, the faster they will absorb all the nutrients from the soil. The new soil will create a rejuvenating growing condition for the fast growers.

Rather than guessing the number of years, remember the signs. These will help you understand the right time of repotting.

Best time to repot indoor plants

The best to repot houseplants is during their growing months. Nearly all houseplants are actively growing during the early spring or summer. Moreover, spring is the time when the plants come out of their dormant period and start growing.

The roots grow actively, so repotting will help them grow stronger and healthy with new fresh soil full of nutrients. Replenishing the plant with new pot and soil will fuel its growth rate.

But, wait for a moment before repotting. If your houseplant is a slow grower and takes a long time to mature, it is better not to repot it. Moreover, in their growing seasons, the houseplants are growing. Interrupting their active growth will stress the plant, and after repotting, your plant might slow down its growth.

So, you should repot your plant before they enter the growing season, which is before the arrival of spring or when the winter is just going to end. The beginning of March is ideal.

If you have currently bought an indoor plant in the middle of winter, and if you think that your plant needs some rejuvenation or readjustment, wait until the environment is warm. 

Most of the time, you should avoid repotting the plants during the winters, i.e., from November to February, because of their dormant stage. Every plant will be in a shock after repotting. They enter into a completely new environment. They need some time to get used to it.

During the growing seasons, the plant can recover quickly from the shock. The situation won’t be the same during the winters due to dormancy.

Though repotting shouldn’t be done during winters, there are exceptions. Some houseplants do not have any dormant period and will grow all year round. These types of plants can be repotted during the winters.

Also, if your region is always warm, or there is no winter frost, repotting can be done anytime. You will only have to water less after repotting and not expose the plants to cold drafts. Keep them under bright sunlight or grow lights.

Choosing a proper pot

While repotting, it is crucial to choose a suitable planter for your houseplant. Choose the size depending on the size of the plant. Choose a bigger pot than the existing ones.

Now that you need a bigger pot than the current one, you should not just drastically jump to a huge pot. Remember always to choose the pot which is 1-2 inches bigger than your current one. A more big pot will not allow the water to dry up and will cause overwatering.

The next thing you should keep in mind is drainage. The pot you choose for repotting must have suitable drainage holes at the bottom. Even if you do not find such one, you could make holes yourself after bringing it home. Decorative pots might not have holes in them.

Avoid using pots that have a narrow mouth. The next time you will have to repot your plant, you will face many problems while taking it out. It might even result in root breakage and damage. 

Repotting

Now that you are familiar with the signs and ideal time for repotting and the type of planter needed, it is time to know how to repot houseplants step by step without making any mistakes.

Repotting correctly will keep your plant healthy and strong for one or more years. But if anything goes wrong, you will have to waste extra effort behind them.

Things you will need to repot:

  • The plant
  • The selected pot
  • Fresh soil mix
  • Rocks (optional, if your pot does not have drainage holes)
  • Water
  • Knife

Now, coming to the steps:

  • The day before repotting, water your plant well so that the plant would come out from the soil without any difficulty.
  • Gently try to get the plant out of the pot. Tap at the bottom to loosen the soil. The plant might be stubborn if the soil is dry. Use a knife to loosen the soil. Make sure to sterilize the knife to avoid fungus and bacteria.
  • Loosen the root system. Gently remove the old soil from the roots. If there are any damaged roots, get rid of them. Do not disturb the root ball or other healthy roots. You can also cut off the extra-large roots. Always make clean cuts.
  • For the potting mix, prepare soil that can both drain excess water and retain enough moisture. A mix of perlite, coco coir, and vermiculite would be excellent. You can add compost, cow manure, or bone meal to your potting soil. The ideal potting mix depends on which houseplant you are growing.
  • Put a layer of the fresh soil mix into the pot, half of the amount, and press it well to block air pockets. 
  • Now, plant your houseplant on the top of the soil at the center. Add the remaining soil around the plant securely. Do not press too much. The roots will need air to breathe.
  • Now, water your plant well with tepid water. Make sure not to overwater it. Just moist the soil. Do not wet it.  

Rocks or pebbles are needed if your plant is not having drainage holes. You will have to layer to the bottom of the pot with rocks or pebbles. This will help make an opening for the excess water to pool in, keeping it away from the plant’s root system.

What to do after repotting?

Your plant will undergo a shock after repotting. The leaves might turn yellow or brown; they will wilt and even fall off. There is nothing to worry about it. 

They just entered into a completely new environment, and they need time to get used to it. Once they get adjusted, they will come back healthy.

In the meantime, avoid stressing the plant. Water them deeply but not frequently. Water them once a week, and the rest of the days, avoid it. Keep the moisture level in check. Do not give them direct sunlight.

Some potting mixes are high in nutrients and will do work of fertilizer. So you don’t have to fertilize separately. Avoid fertilizing for at least six weeks.

If you have done something wrong while repotting, your plant will show you signs like root rot or pests. These happen when the pot or the soil does not have a sound drainage system, you overwatered or have fertilized after transplanting.

Final words

Always repot during the growing season. Although you can repot some plants in winter, repotting during the spring or summer is still the best for quick recovery from transplant shock.

Sometimes, your plant will show signs of repotting, but there might be some other problem in your plants. Looks may be misleading. So before repotting, check your plant closely.

FAQs



Why is my plant dying after repotting?

This mainly happens because transplanting aftercare is not maintained. You might not have watered your plant thoroughly or overwatered it. Check the moisture of the soil to find out. 


Sources: The Pennsylvania State UniversityThe Royal Horticultural Society.