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How to repot your plants in 6 simple steps

So your plant needs a new home. Do you just plop it into a new pot and hope for the best? Not so fast.

If your plant looks like it’s outgrowing its current container, then you need to know the best ways to repot and get the best results.

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1. Determine if you need to repot

First, you’ll want to determine if your plant seems to be outgrowing its current home. Sometimes it’s pretty easy — the plant looks top-heavy, seems to be struggling or there is a trail of roots growing out of the drainage hole in the bottom of the container. Also, you may notice that water seems to stand on the surface of its soil for longer than you’d expect after watering, or it doesn’t seem to drain very well.

2. Remove the plant

If you’ve confirmed that your plant needs a new home, you’ll have to get it out. Lightly water the plant, and let it sit for an hour or so before you make your attempt. Plants that are root-bound and in need of larger containers will usually slide out easily — if you can, invert the pot, hold on to the plant and shake or bump it out that way. It should come right out. If you notice that there is a bunch of loose dirt that comes out with it, then your plant may not need to be repotted after all.

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3. Free up those roots

You’ll likely notice that your plant’s root system is pretty tightly packed into the shape of its former container. First, you’ll want to cut away any roots that are black or in otherwise bad shape (as well as any stragglers), but if the root ball is bound pretty tightly, you’ll definitely need to loosen that up. Use your fingers or a sharp knife to loosen up the roots, or make three or four vertical cuts up the sides to allow them to spread out better in their new home.

4. Prepare your new pot

Place a pottery shard (curved side up) over the drainage hole of the new pot to prevent soil from escaping as well as aid in drainage. You can also toss in a few pebbles or even use a coffee filter instead.

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5. Replant your plant

Finally, you’ll want to replant your gorgeous plant. Ideally, you want your plants root system to be about one inch from the top rim of your new container, so make sure you fill in the bottom so there is some room to rest the root ball on when you first put it in. Finally, fill in the rest of the empty space with soil. How firmly you pack it in depends on your plant’s needs — does it need support or to be steadied? You might want to make it a little more packed in.

6. Water your green friend

Once you’ve replanted and packed in more potting soil, generously water your plant — enough so that water seeps out the drainage hole in the bottom. Voilà! You’re done.

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