Is it time to repot?

Spring is often the best time of year to repot your houseplants, when they are coming out of dormancy. Just as our outdoor plants are gearing up for some summer growing, with the increased light and warmer temperatures, our indoor plants are also preparing for their big season of growth. Now is a great time to take stock, and see if your houseplant friends could use a little extra love.

How to tell if your plants need to be repotted

While repotting plants does have benefits, not every houseplant will require it. There are, however, several tell-tale signs you should look out for to indicate when a plant needs to be repotted. If the plant has grown so large that it is tipping over in its current pot, that is an obvious sign. If the soil doesn’t drain properly when you water the plant, that could be because the roots have spread too much for the size of the plant pot; this, of course, can cause the health of the plant to suffer.

If the roots have become visible, and are poking out of the soil or through the bottom of the pot, that is another sign that the plant needs to be moved to a larger pot. If the plant has become obviously unhealthy; if it’s sagging, or losing color, that is another sign that perhaps it should be repotted to regain access to beneficial nutrients that will help it return to optimal health.

The Benefits to repotting

Plants, like people, require nutrition to grow and thrive. Plants tend to derive most of their nutrients from the soil in which they grow. As they do so, they will eventually deplete the soil of nutrients and leave it less rich than it was before. Repotting will allow your houseplants access to new, nutrient-rich soil and help optimize their future health.

Even if you don’t repot your indoor plants, occasionally changing out the soil can be extremely beneficial to their overall health. If that isn’t an option, you can also place a fresh layer of soil over the top of the soil that is already in place. Even that small amount of soil will help provide additional life-giving nutrients that will boost your plant’s overall health and appearance.

Moving your plants to a larger container will provide a number of benefits itself; extra space will give the roots room to grow further. Not having enough room to spread can be very detrimental to the health of the plant; for example, the roots can all become packed into one spot and eventually cause the plant to begin choking itself.

Repotting in a larger container will help allow the roots the room they need to spread and breath. It will also help deal with issues such as root rot; if plants are overwatered, the roots tend to turn brown or black, which of course is detrimental to the overall health of the plant. Repotting will allow you to locate cases of root rot and remove unhealthy roots, helping new, healthy ones to grow in their place. Repotting also allows you to remove offshoots of your plant and place them in new containers of their own, leaving you with multiple plants for the price of one!

The Process

Repotting an indoor plant successfully requires several steps. The first thing you should do is thoroughly water your plant several days before you plan to undertake the repotting process. A properly hydrated plant is a healthy plant; having optimal hydration will help to lower the risk of shock when your indoor plant is moved from the pot that it is currently in.

Repotting can be an extremely messy job, leaving soil everywhere, so it’s a good idea to do this outside. This may not be feasible, however, if the weather is too cold; less than sixty degrees can also increase your plant’s risk of shock. How you will undertake the repotting process also depends largely on the size of the plant; while smaller plants can easily be moved from one pot to the next with minimal hassle, as they grow larger you may need to obtain help removing them from their containers and placing them into larger ones.

Once you have an appropriate workspace and an adequately hydrated plant, you can remove your plant from its current container. For a larger container, you might have to turn the plant over on its side to slide it out. If the plant seems stuck inside of the pot too firmly, you can make use of a butter knife to break apart the hardened soil. When you have removed the plant from the pot, shake away the excess soil from the root ball and trim away any roots that appear damaged or unhealthy.

Place a layer of soil into the plant’s new container and then set the plant on top of that. If the plant pot does not have a drainage hole, a layer of pebbles or charcoal is advisable to help prevent accidentally over-watering the plant. Then pack a layer of fresh soil around your plant, ensuring that there are no air pockets but taking care not to crush the roots as you do so.

The process of repotting is stressful to an indoor plant; as a result, you will want to make sure you don’t subject your plant to any additional stresses for a few days. Keep it out of the light that is too strong and water it only lightly; do not oversaturate the soil.