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How and Why You Should Repot Your Plants

Whether you are new to plants or you have been taking care of them for years, you need to know when is the best time to repot your plants – and why you need to repot them in the first place. The following guide will help you understand more about repotting your plants, including why you should do it, when you should do it, and what mistakes to avoid.

How and Why You Should Repot Your Plants

Why Do You Need to Repot Your Plants?

If you are growing a plant inside a container, whether it's a literal pot, a square planter or something else, the plant may eventually outgrow the initial container.

When a plant outgrows a container, this causes the roots of the plants to become crowded. Eventually, they will become compacted together. Compacted, crowded roots cause stunted growth and may even cause the plant to die. If the plant is a flowering plant, crowded or compacted roots could prevent the flowers from blooming.

Here are some signs that your plants may be overcrowded:

  • Roots growing through drainage holes in a pot or planter

  • Roots growing above the soil level

  • Water running straight through a container

  • Sick, unhealthy looking leaves

  • Crowded roots visible to the naked eye

  • Dried soil that won’t absorb moisture

  • Years since last repotting

If you see one or more of the above symptoms with your plant, then it is almost certainly time to consider repotting.

Benefits of Repotting Your Plants

In addition to helping your plants grow healthy, repotting has other benefits, too. When you repot a plant, you will have the opportunity to replace your current soil with new, better soil that can provide your plants with more nutrients.

Old soil is often a target for mold, diseases and other pests, so replacing the soil can be a great way to give your plant a fresh start.

Finally, repotting can give you the opportunity to place your plant in a new container that looks nicer or fits in better with the aesthetic of your home, patio or other indoor or outdoor living space.

How to Repot Your Plants

Now that you know it’s time to repot your plants, it’s time to learn how to repot them in the right way.

Get the Right Supplies

You will need the right supplies in order to repot your plant.

The supplies you need include: a new pot that is larger than the previous pot; a trowel that will be used when removing the plant from its current pot; scissors or a sharp knife which can be used to cut excess roots; fresh potting/soil mix for the new pot; gloves which will help keep your hands clean.

Step One: Prepare your new pot

The first step is to prepare your new pot.

The pot should be larger than the previous one so that your plant has more room to grow.

If the new pot is made from terracotta, make sure you soak it ahead of time so that it doesn’t dry out; terracotta pots have a tendency to dry out soil when they aren’t properly soaked, so this is something you will want to avoid.

Step Two: Add a base layer of soil to the new pot

Before you start working on taking the plant out of the old pot, you'll need to put down a base layer of soil into the new pot. This will give the plant roots space to grow. It’s important not to add too much soil to this base layer, as otherwise, the plant won’t be able to fit inside the pot.

Step Three: Water the plant inside the old pot

Before you start removing the plant, make sure you give it a light watering while it's in the old pot. This will keep the rootball together while you remove it from the old container. Make sure you don’t overwater the plant at this stage, otherwise it will cause a mess when you change the pot.

Step Four: Remove the plant and prune the rootball

Now it's time to remove the plant. Use a trowel if you need some help removing it, and be careful with the roots. Before you repot the plant, prune the rootball. Pruning the rootball will give the plant roots a chance to grow healthy and uncrowded in the new pot. It’s important to be careful at this stage, as you don’t want the rootball to fall apart, you simply want to trim and prune it to an acceptable level.

Step Five: Repot the plant

The final step is to place your plant inside the new pot. Carefully place the plant down on the base layer of soil, and then add soil around the plant and gently pat down so that it surrounds the plant comfortably. Then give the plant a light watering to help settle the soil, but be careful not to overwater it.

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