How to Repot House Plants


Every container plant will need to be repotted sometime to remain healthy and vibrant. By watching for certain signs, you can recognize when your plants need to be repotted before they become badly root bound or stunted. Fresh, high-quality potting mix and more room for root growth can invigorate even old and ailing plants. Choose the proper size and type of pot to ensure your plants' growth requirements will be met. Some plants can even be divided and repotted into separate containers, increasing your supply of plants. Repotting is a chore that rewards the gardener with lush, beautiful container-grown plants.

Step 1

Look for roots protruding from the soil surface or the bottom of the pot and check for white salty buildup on the soil surface. Repot your plant if you see either of these signs, or if the pot needs water constantly.

Step 2

Select a new pot that is about 2 inches in diameter larger than the pot in which your plant is now growing. Choose unglazed terracotta pots for plants that need less moisture, like Mediterranean herbs or cactus. Use glazed ceramic or plastic pots for moisture-loving plants, like ferns.

Step 3

Fill the pot with sterile, well-drained potting mix. Do not bother using rocks or pot shards at the bottom of the pot, these are not necessary for good drainage as long as the potting mix is well drained. According to Arizona Cooperative Extension, all they do is provide a bit of extra space for water to accumulate.

Step 4

Spread out a sheet of old newspaper on the edge of a work table. Tip the plant upside down over the newspaper, and then hold back the top of the root ball with one hand. Tap the pot rim on the edge of the table gently to release the root ball.. Tap the bottom of the pot lightly, if the soil ball does not immediately release. Remove the plant from the pot carefully, keeping the soil ball intact.

Step 5

Place the plant in the new pot so the soil surface is at the same level it was growing, ideally about 1/2 inch below the rim of the pot. Fill the voids in the pot with soil, and then gently firm it with your hands. Pour water into the pot until you see water running out the bottom. Allow the pot to thoroughly drain, then fill the pot with water once more.

Things You'll Need

  • Flower pot
  • Sterile potting mix
  • Newspaper


  • University of Illinois Extension: Homeowner's Column: Repotting Houseplants
  • Arizona Master Gardener Manual: Containers
Keywords: re pot plants, potting plants up, house plant care

About this Author

Malia Marin is a landscape designer and freelance writer, specializing in sustainable design, native landscapes and environmental education. She holds a Masters in landscape architecture, and her professional experience includes designing parks, trails and residential landscapes. Marin has written numerous articles, over the past ten years, about landscape design for local newspapers.