How to Repot a Plant

If you need to repot a plant, there are a few important things to keep in mind so that the process is the least disturbing possible for the plant. If you do it carefully, you'll be rewarded by healthy growth from nutrients and knowing you got rid of salts.


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    Water the plant a couple of days before you repot it so that the soil is moist when you're ready to work on it.
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    To remove the plant, slip your hand over the top of the pot and hold the plant's stem, then turn the pot upside down. Tap the pot against a hard surface, then slowly pull the pot away from the plant. After several tries, if the plant still doesn't come out, use a knife to cut around the edge of the soil. If that doesn't work, you can break the pot. If you happen to break some of the roots, don't worry. There are times when a plant's roots are pruned to keep a plant at a smaller size, so breaking off a few roots in the replanting process won't hurt anything. In fact, if the plant has become rootbound (roots tightly curling around the sides and bottom of the rootball), it is important to slit through the sides and bottom of the rootball to encourage the roots to branch out into the new soil.
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    Remove about one-third of the soil.
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    Put a few inches of potting soil in the bottom of the new larger pot (no more than about 1 inch larger in diameter than the old pot), put the plant into the pot, and make sure the soil level is high enough so that the soil line on the plant stem isn't above the top of the pot. The soil line should be about 1" below the top of the pot. If it's too low, add more soil below the root ball.
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    Fill in around the root ball with soil, tamping the soil down hard around the edges of the pot with the tips of your fingers or your thumbs. This removes any air pockets that could dry out the roots between waterings.
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    Thalassa Cruso, a plant writer and guru wrote that it's a good idea to thump the potted plant down hard against a firm surface just to settle the soil and encourage the roots to get busy and grow.
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    Soak the plant until water runs out the bottom and then let it drain completely.


  • Always use a pot with good drainage. The holes at the bottom should be big, if it doesn't have any holes drill some in, or add big stones to the bottom before adding the soil.
  • The new pot should be the next size bigger (no more than 1 inch larger in circumference), with room for new soil around the root ball.
  • Put your plant in a larger pot than the one you took it out of. Don't pack down the soil; let it be airy. You could also use gritty soil or anything that will keep the dirt from being waterlogged and giving the plant root rot.


  • Don't cut away healthy roots unless you are pruning them so that the plant will remain the same size or be miniaturized (like for Bonsai).

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Categories: Indoor and Patio Plants