How to Transplant a Potted Plant


Sooner or later, potted plants outgrow their pots. Transplanting a potted plant can feel a little scary if you haven't tried it before, but you should be able to easily move your plant to a bigger pot successfully so your indoor and/or outdoor container plants perform at their best. This is also a good opportunity to improve the type of pot, particularly if the original pot is unattractive.

Step 1

Water your plant well 3 to 4 hours before you want to transplant. This will loosen the roots from the sides of the pot and should make it easier to release from the pot.

Step 2

Select a new pot at least twice the size of your existing pot. Spread a thin layer of pebbles or gravel across the bottom of the pot to help with drainage. Fill the pot 1/3-full with potting soil (or a blend of soil rated for your plant type). Set your new pot aside.

Step 3

Place your hand over the soil in your existing pot. Slide your hand so that the main stem or trunk of the plant is between your forefinger and middle finger. Tilt the plant over and tap along the bottom corner edge by lifting the pot and bringing the corner down on a firm surface, like a floor. This should loosen the roots from the sides of the pot.

Step 4

Slide the plant out of the pot. If your plant doesn't loosen, you may need to cut or break the pot with a hammer or garden shears. Never pull on the trunk or stems of the plant.

Step 5

Gently tug the roots toward the sides if they are tightly wound together. Trim away and dead or diseased roots, but don't cut the tap root.

Step 6

Place the plant into the new pot so that the roots are in good contact with the soil. The soil at the top of the plant should be 1-inch below the top edge of the pot. Trowel more soil into the pot and compact the soil lightly so there are no air voids. The repotted plant should be 1-inch below the top edge of the pot. Water the plant thoroughly and place it out of full sunlight for a few days.

Step 7

Add root fertilizer to its water after two or three days to encourage root growth and slowly move the plant back into its normal location.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden shears
  • Hammer
  • Trowel
  • New pot
  • Gravel
  • Potting soil
  • Root fertilizer


  • Home Made Simple: Tips For Properly Potting Plants
Keywords: repotting plants indoors, repotting outdoor plants, transplanting pots planters

About this Author

F.R.R. Mallory is a senior at UC Berkeley completing degrees in both Neuropsychology and English. She has been published since 1996 in both nonfiction and fiction, books, short stories, articles and essays. Her fiction short story "Black Ice" recently won a National Space Society contest.