An Introduction to Repotting
Have you ever wondered what repotting is, why it's necessary, or when to do it? We have outlined all of the information you need to know, as well as developed a step-by-step guide for you to follow, here in this article. There is no need for you to be overwhelmed with this task, as it is all a part of being a plant owner, but we want you to be as prepared as possible!
Now that the days are getting longer and warming up (slowly but surely), our plants are starting to wake up and stretch their little roots out. With these brighter spring days comes the potential plant-parental task of repotting. It is time to determine if your plant needs a soil refreshment or a larger home to fill out and support its maturing growth!
What is Repotting and Why is it Necessary?
Repotting is essentially upsizing a plant's home, giving it more room to grow and allowing for a nutrient refreshment of sorts. One of the most important reasons that repotting is essential in a plant's life is that it gives a plant, and its roots, a larger home for healthy and full growth. Some other reasons for repotting include:
- Overall plant health - Your plant may be too large for its container, starting to become top-heavy, or the overall health of your plant is low (stunted or slow growth, root bound, etc.) for no other reason. We will go over these signs and more in the next section, where we discuss when it is the right time to repot!
- Soil refreshment - Sometimes a plant doesn't need a larger home but rather it has used up all the nutrients that its current soil has offered, this is when you would repot the plant into the same size pot but with new soil.
- Alternative medium - Maybe the drainage of the soil it's in currently doesn't benefit the roots as much as a chunkier medium would, which would offer a natural aeration as well as promoting strong roots, rather than very fine ones (this medium is most common for Aroids, or the Araceae family)
- Outdoors - When moving a plant outdoors for the season, they will often grow a little quicker than they did indoors since they have the heat, light and changes between day and night temperatures. Assess the pot that they are in and if it seems as though they may need a larger home, consider repotting! This is especially important to consider if you are moving a citrus plant outdoors for the first time since owning it.
- Decorative reasons - Although this may not seem as important, it is still legitimate! Maybe you are looking to keep all your decor matching, or you have a decorative pot (with drainage holes) that is a little bit bigger than the existing pot the plant is in.
- Overwatering - Hopefully this does not happen to you, but the final reason for repotting would be due to overwatering. When this occurs, the plant has sat in damp soil for too long, causing the roots to rot from this excessive amount of water. You will want to remove the plant from the pot, get rid of the damp soil, trim off any rotted roots, and plant it in fresh soil. Make sure to watch your watering in the future!
Depending on the size of the plant, how actively it is growing, and the time of year, plants generally need to be repotted every one-and-a-half to two years. If you are interested to know the requirements for your specific plant, please reach out to our plant experts for additional information on when it is ideal to repot your plant!
When Should You Repot?
Now that you know what repotting is and why it is beneficial, how do you know when the right time to repot is? Well, that's a great question! Thankfully, our plants often show us what they need, and when it is time to repot is no exception.
Let's first start with the time of year that is ideal for repotting. It is best to repot in the early spring months, roughly March to April, although it is also ok to repot a little later as well. Plants are often dormant throughout the winter, as the days are shorter and cooler, which aren't ideal conditions for helping a plant adjust to a new potted home.
Coming out of the winter months and into the spring months, our plants are starting to wake up, leaving their dormant phase behind. The days are also getting longer, meaning there is more daylight to support actively growing roots that need to adjust to a fresh potting mix!
The following signs are the most common that a plant needs a new home:
- Stunted or slow growth: When the overall state of the plant looks quite sad and there is very slow growth or relatively unhealthy new growth, it has most likely run out of the necessary nutrients, or space, in its current home (this can include drooping foliage, pale or yellowish leaves, and smaller new growth)
- Top-heavy: This occurs when the bulk of the plant above the soil is very heavy, often causing the plant and pot to fall over
- Root-bound: If you remove the plant and soil from the pot just to see that there are a lot of roots coiled around the bottom of the soil, there are more roots than soil, or that there are quite a few roots coming out of the drainage holes of the pot
- Lack of moisture retention: When you water your plant and the water drains out extremely quickly, not actually absorbing into the soil, or the plant dries out very quickly between waterings
Although our plants can be in need of repotting once in a while, avoid an excessive amount of it. Doing it too many times can put additional stress on a plant as it is constantly adjusting to one new home after another, never getting situated enough to actually settle into a home and focus on new growth!
Also, when you are repotting, remember that the plant will be putting all its energy into forming healthy roots, not much will be going on above the soil. Once established, then it will begin to put out new growth, which is another reason why we recommend repotting in the early spring, so that you will still be able to enjoy seeing active, new growth throughout those warmer months.
Now, let's get into the dirty work!
A Step-By-Step Guide to Repotting
Light Requirements & Placement