How to Repot Tropical Plants


Tropical plants can survive in the home for years with proper care, which includes water, fertilizer, adequate light and occasional repotting. Plants should be repotted whenever they outgrow their current containers, no more than once a year. Repot indoor plants at any time of year; repot outdoor tropical plants in the spring or fall to avoid summer heat or winter cold. Choose a container with drainage holes to prevent against root rot.

Step 1

Wait until your tropical plant has outgrown the pot it's in, as evidenced by roots coming out the drainage holes in your container, and is in an active growth phase. If you can see new shoots on your tropical plant, it's actively growing. Most plants resume active growth in the springtime, notes the Smithsonian Institute.

Step 2

Select a pot one size up from the one currently holding your houseplant. Cut a circle of mesh screen to fit in the bottom of the new pot and place it in the bottom of the pot. This prevents potting soil from washing out through the holes in the pot every time you water.

Step 3

Create a custom potting mix for tropical plants by mixing equal parts of potting soil and perlite or equal parts each of potting soil, peat and perlite. Straight potting soil does not provide adequate drainage for tropicals.

Step 4

Fill the new container 1/3 of the way full with this potting mix.

Step 5

Remove your tropical plant from its current container by grasping the crown, where the stem meets the roots, and gently tugging up. If the plant does not come free, prick the soil with a fork to loosen it. Then try again. Work in this manner until the plant comes free.

Step 6

Squeeze the root ball with your fingers to break up clods of soil. Unwind any circled roots. Check the roots for signs of breakage or rot and cut back damaged or rotting roots to healthy tissue using anvil pruners.

Step 7

Place your tropical plant in the new container and spread the roots out with your hand.

Step 8

Fill in the rest of the container with your custom potting mix, gently firming the mix around the plant roots.

Step 9

Water the repotted plant until water flows out the drainage holes in the bottom and the soil compresses around the plant roots.

Things You'll Need

  • Container
  • Scissors
  • Mesh screen
  • Potting soil
  • Perlite
  • Peat
  • Anvil pruners, if needed
  • Water


  • Smithsonian Institute: Indoor Tropicals Fact Sheet
Keywords: repotting plants, tropical plant care, transplant tropical plant

About this Author

Based in Northern California, Elton Dunn is a freelance writer and nonprofit consultant with 14 years' experience. Dunn specializes in travel, food, business, gardening, education and the legal fields. His work has appeared in various print and online publications. Dunn holds a Master of Fine Arts in creative writing and a Bachelor of Arts in English.