|Spider Plant - needs to be repotted|
Generally houseplants won’t need to be repotted very often, in fact many won’t need to be repotted for several years. But when a houseplant grows in the same pot for a long time, it can become pot-bound (or root-bound) and will usually need to be repotted.
If you put your houseplants outside during the summer, they will probably become pot-bound faster and will need to be repotted more often. Some plants like to be pot-bound, but most houseplants will start to show signs of distress if they become pot-bound.
There are several signs that a plant has outgrown it's pot and needs to be repotted.
- The soil is always dry and doesn’t seem to hold moisture for very long
- There are roots growing out the bottom of the pot, or over the top of the soil
- The pot looks as if it's ready to bust open
- The plant has grown so tall that the pot keeps falling over
- The plant is slow to grow or seems to have stopped growing
If it's a dense mass of roots with very little soil left in the pot; or the roots are circling around the inside of the pot, that means the plant is pot-bound.
If a plant won't slide out of the pot and seems to be stuck, that's also an indication that the plant is pot-bound.
Once you determine your plant needs to be repotted, it's a good idea to water it a day or two before you plan to repot it. This will help the plant recover faster, and will also make it easier to remove the rootball from the pot.
Choosing a new pot:When you're planning to repot a houseplant, you'll want to choose a pot that is only one size larger (i.e.: from a 4" pot to a 6" pot). If you’re reusing a pot, make sure that you scrub it with soap and water before putting a new plant into it. This will prevent the transfer of any disease or houseplant pests.
I would recommend always using a pot that has drainage holes because it's easier to maintain a consistent level of moisture without overwatering your plant.
|Piece of screen over drainage hole|
To keep the soil in, while still allowing the water to drain out, cover the drainage holes with a piece of screen material or landscape fabric.
If you want to use a decorative pot that doesn't have drainage holes, it would be a good idea to add drainage material to the bottom before adding soil. You can use pieces of broken pottery or pebbles, I like to use pieces of styrofoam because it won't add extra weight. Better yet, you could use a pot with drainage holes, and then drop it into your decorative pot.
Potting Soil:Common houseplants will do fine in a general purpose potting soil. (Note that some plants may require different types of soil, or medium. If you are unsure, it's best to look up the specific potting medium recommend for your plant.) Always use fresh, sterile potting soil. If there is any loose soil left in the old pot, it's fine to dump that into the new pot. But never reuse soil from another plant; and never, never use garden soil.
If there are roots growing out of the bottom of the pot, trim those off before attempting to remove the plant from the pot. Gently tease the plant out of the pot, you may need to tap on the side of the pot to loosen the rootball. If the plant is stuck in the pot, you may need to use a knife or trowel and gently run it along the inside of the pot to loosen it up.
|Straighten out circular root growth|
Trim off any roots that are damaged or look unhealthy. Healthy roots are firm and whitish in color.
If the roots have grown in a circular pattern, gently tease the roots to straighten them out.
This will break the circular growth pattern and help to stimulate new growth.
Place the plant in the new pot so that the top of the rootball is at the same level it was in the old pot.
If there was root growth over the top of the soil, you could place it slightly deeper in order to cover up the rootball fully with soil.
|Repotting spider plant|
Place the rootball in the center of the new pot and fill in soil around it, lightly packing it down as you go.
|Repotted spider plant|
When you're done, water the plant to moisten the rootball and allow the soil to settle.
You may need to add more soil once it has settled in the new pot.
|Ugly plastic pot dropped into decorative pot|
Repotting a plant into a larger pot will stimulate new growth, allowing the plant to stay healthy and grow larger.
If you have a plant that needs to be repotted, but you don't want it to get any bigger, check out my blog post about repotting a large houseplant.