Four Signs Your Plant is Ready to Repot
Is it time? One of the most exciting parts of indoor gardening is pairing a new plant with a pot or seeing a beloved plant graduate to a bigger pot.
However, like all things plants, it’s best to approach an up-pot knowing it will only benefit (and not harm) your leafy friend.
To learn the four rules of repotting – watch this video from Tula founder Christan Summers.
At Tula, we follow the rule of four.
If you’re thinking about repotting, take a look at your plant and ask yourself these four questions. If more than one of them applies, then it’s time to consider repotting.
An addendum before we begin: often we see a plant growing wildly and happily, pushing out new leaves and even flowers. New growth is usually NOT a sign the plant wants to be repotted – simply a sign that it is happy. Let it be happy. If new growth is looking too wild or large for the pot, consider other solutions like stakes, trellises, or pruning and propagating!
Without further ado, Tula’s four signs to get repotting.
- LOTS of roots growing out of the bottom of the pot or through the drainage hole. This is a sign the plant wants out of its pot. Roots expanding out the bottom often mean subterranean roots are condensed in the soil and are seeking more soil to expand into. Keep in mind that a lot of plants like Monstera deliciosa send out aerial roots. Aerial roots are not always a sign that the roots beneath the soil need more space, since aerial roots and subterranean roots function differently.
- The plant is rootbound and you need to water it very frequently. If your plant typically wants water once a week, but now you’re watering it every other day, this might be a sign that it is rootbound. Rootbound means that the roots in the pot are condensing and pushing out the soil. If you do a soil moisture test with your finger, the soil of rootbound plants is often hard to break into, because of the soil and root density. Repotting a rootbound plant will help with moisture retention by adding more soil.
- New growth looks stunted. If the plant should be growing and new leaves come in looking small, clefted, or do not fully open, this could be a sign a plant is rootbound and stunted. This could also be a result of lighting or water issues, so be sure to compare it with the other four signs before moving forward with a repot.
- It’s spring/summer and the plant is not growing at all. If it’s the growing season and you see NO new growth, your plant may want more space in the rootball to grow to a larger size. Like our third rule, there is a chance this has to do with light or water conditions, so check to see if the plant is rootbound before repotting.
Another tip involves an always difficult concept, delayed gratification. After you bring a plant home from the nursery, give it time before repotting into that special pot you got for it. A couple weeks in the plastic nursery pot will help the plant acclimate to its new lighting and water situation in your home!
Finally, it’s important to consider what time of year you are repotting.
Most plants are spring / summer growers. Repotting during those times or right before will benefit a warm season grower by providing extra space for root growth at the time it wants to expand. On the other hand, most plants are dormant in the winter. Providing extra soil and root space at a time when the plant isn’t ready for it could lead to root rot or other issues.
Once you have your plant in a new pot one size bigger, it should be happy there for multiple years.
If you've done your research and decided it's time to repot, now it's time for a deep dive on how to repot your tropical or arid plants.