Time to Repot?

Time to Repot?

Time to repot? Let’s find out!

Whether you’re new to plants, an intermediate, or even an expert sometimes the idea of repotting can seem overwhelming, and perhaps even intimidating - especially when you have a lot of plants. It’s easy to think, “it’s been doing so well the way it is now, so I’m not sure if I should rock the boat!”


To add to the confusion, you also must consider that transplanting can definitely stress out a plant, and doing it too often or unnecessarily can do more harm than good. So you may be asking, how will I know when I need to re-pot?


Here are some of the signs you’ll want to look for to determine whether or not it’s time for you to repot your plants.

  1. Lift the plant up and look at the bottom, are the roots coming out of the drainage holes? If so, it’s time to re-pot!
  2. Does it seem like the plant is bulging out of the top? If so, it’s probably time to re-pot!
  3. Does it seem that the plant would tip over easily? A top-heavy plant is an indication that it’s time to…. (You guessed it!….) repot!
  4. Does the plant just seem to be squishing out of its pot… Think a tight fitting pair of jeans after a Thanksgiving dinner! If so… Do you know the drill. Time to re-pot
  5. If the water seems to sit at the top when you water, or it seems like it rushes right through super quickly, there’s another sign that it’s time to re-pot.
  6. If you feel like you’re having to water the plants all the time, or much more frequently than before, Yep… I won’t even say it this time

So you’re reading these checkpoints and realizing that it’s time, you must make sure that you’re doing so at a GOOD time - as in, time of year. During the winter, most plants go dormant, (think hibernation) meaning they grow very little, if at all. So the best time to repot is in the spring when the plants are finally coming back to life, OR, late summer very early fall will also be fine, particularly if the signs listed above are present.


Some things to remember before starting the process of repotting is to make sure you have all your supplies in hand before you start. Firstly, you’ll need a pot, and it’s best to choose a pot 1 to 2 inches bigger than the one the plant is currently in now. One of the biggest mistakes people make when reporting is using a pot that is much too big for the plant. This is typically a well-intentioned move assuming this will give the roots “plenty of room!” However - that’s not usually a good idea. Why? Because if a pot is too large, it will hold more soil which will then hold water - more than the plant can absorb. So basically, it takes what the roots can hold and then just sits (full to the brim with water) in more damp soil - and more often than not will lead to root rot and eventual death of the plant. So - sticking with that 1 to 2 inches larger is best. You will also want to make sure that there’s a drainage hole so that the water can free flow as mentioned before root rot is one of the biggest issues people will have with their beloved potted plants.


So what are the different options for pots you may be asking? Well, the MOST IMPORTANT thing when selecting a pot is to make sure it has a drainage hole. It is IMPERATIVE - I’ve spent years trying to find a workaround for this and I’ll just save you the time - there isn’t. It NEEEEEDS drainage. The reason people hope to skip the hole is simply that they don’t have a proper pot on hand, or to avoid the spill-out when watering. I know personally I have fallen for the rumored “hack” of using rocks, broken pieces of terra-cotta, sand, even squished aluminum cans… The list goes on and on… To put at the bottom of a pot that doesn’t have a drainage hole in hopes that that would alleviate the problem and the mess. “It will keep the roots from sitting in water, right!?”


WRONG. Unfortunately, that does not work as the soil that the plant is in is still sitting against that standing water. Standing water in the bottom of a pot with no drainage is basically a guarantee that you will have fungal and bacterial issues ending in root rot and death of the plant. Even if you manage to evade root rot, the buildup of salts and minerals from water will eventually wreak havoc having nowhere to escape.

So  one of my favorites is called a cachepot. Basically, it’s an ugly but functional plastic pot inside of a cute pot! You can use an ugly plastic nursery container with tons of drainage holes and stick it inside of something much more attractive that does not have a drainage hole, such as a woven basket, piece of pottery, bucket,  or some type of decorative item. These are nice because they tend to be more attractive and easier to swap out when it’s time new decor or for a fresh look! When you water your plants, you simply remove the plastic nursery pot holding the plant, stick it in the sink or the bathtub, or the yard wherever, and water it, let it drain, and put it back and it’s pretty container. Super easy! But again, it’s imperative to know that whatever your plans is actually in MUST have drainage holes. Stick it in whatever else you want after that, but as long as when it’s watered, it must be able to freely drain.


So let’s just say we do have a pot, and it does have a drainage hole… Perfect! However, the only downside is that when you water the plants, obviously, that water has to have somewhere to go. Otherwise it will wind up all over your floor And it’s a huge pain in the butt! It’s a really good idea to have a drainage tray, or a saucer, or something else for the run off water to go.


So long story short, either use a Nursery pot like the plastic kind that you’d see at your local garden store (yes, the ugly ones…) and put that inside of something else that’s more attractive, or find an actual pot that has a drainage hole, and then use a drip tray or a saucer.


Now that we have that out-of-the-way, it’s time to go gather the rest of our supplies. You obviously need the pots, potting soil, a clean pair of scissors, a watering can, gloves if you choose, a repotting mat is helpful a hand trowel to help get the soil where you need it to be, and some small screens or even coffee filters. The screens or coffee filters assist in covering the drainage hole so that dirt does not come out of the hole when you water.


When choosing your soil, it’s important to research which type of soil is ideal for that type of plant. There are different mixes available for example, cacti and succulents need much more drainage, and to be able to dry out quickly, where some plants need a lot of organic matter, bark, stagnant mice, etc. to hold more water For longer. Some plants are just thirstier than others!


A decent starting point is miracle gro potting soil, but I definitely need to say that even a pre-mix like Miracle Gro has proven to be still much too dense for most of my plants (meaning it holds too much moisture and doesn’t allow for enough drainage.) So if you’re just getting started and need a quick/general soil mix, my suggestion is to get a bag of perlite and mix 2 parts miracle grow to one part perlite. There are many different soil “recipes” tailored for specific types of plants, but this is a good quick starting point. I will make a follow up post going more in-depth about soil amendments, what they are, what they do and how to use them. Some of my favorite soil amendments are orchid bark, Coco coir, perlite, vermiculite, activated charcoal, earthworm castings…. The list goes on and on! I will elaborate on all of these topics in a follow up post.


For a more in-depth explanation, please see this video!


Back to blog