How to Transplant Indoor Plants

How to Transplant Indoor Plants image by L. Marie photo


Indoor plants should be transplanted as they show signs of cupped leaves, yellowing around the edges of their leaves (although this may signal other conditions as well), roots protruding through drain holes in the pot, or simply overgrowing the pot. When the soil pulls away from the edges of the pot, you may need to move the plant into a new pot or into the same pot by removing it, emptying the pot, then replanting it with new soil.

Step 1

Spread out several sheets of newspaper or a large plastic garbage bag to protect your work area from spilled dirt.

Step 2

Set the old pot (with the plant still in it) and the new pot side by side on your protected work area. Visually compare to confirm that the new pot is 1 to 2 inches deeper and bigger around than the old one. Prepare the new pot by adding 2 or 3 inches of all-purpose gardening soil in its bottom.

Step 3

Fill a bucket or large bowl with lukewarm water. Dampen the plant's soil in the old pot if it's very dry; this will make it less likely to tear away in chunks, bringing the plant's roots away with it.

Step 4

Tip the old pot on its side and, grasping the plant by its main stem or trunk, as close to the soil as possible, support the plant as you gently draw the pot away from it. Make sure you pull on the pot, not the plant. If it won't come out, use your hand or a butter knife to gently loosen the soil around the edges of the pot, then try again.

Step 5

Gently loosen the plant's roots by dunking it carefully in the bucket or large bowl you filled in Step 3. Work any bound roots that have packed into the shape of the inside of the old pot gently with your fingers to loosen them further.

Step 6

Place the plant on the dirt you've already put in the new pot. Continue to support the stem with your hands so that, once you've filled in dirt around the plant, the same portion of the stem that was below the dirt in the old pot will be below the dirt in the new pot, starting an inch below the rim of the pot.

Step 7

Use a small cup, scoop or your hands to fill the pot with dirt around the plant to within an inch of the pot's rim. Don't press down on the dirt; instead, water it gently, which will cause it to compress a bit, then add more dirt to within an inch of the pot's rim.

Things You'll Need

  • Newspaper or large garbage bag
  • Pot
  • Bucket or large bowl
  • Butter knife


  • Buckeye Garening
Keywords: transplant indoor, indoor plant, indoor plants

About this Author

Marie Mulrooney has written professionally since 2001. Her diverse background includes numerous outdoor pursuits, personal training and linguistics. She studied mathematics and contributes regularly to various online publications. Mulrooney's print publication credits include national magazines, poetry awards and long-lived columns about local outdoor adventures.

Photo by: L. Marie photo