How to Repot a House Plant


It's all too easy to take your potted plants for granted. They sit on your windowsills and desks, look great and don't ask for much besides a little water. Eventually, just about every plant will need to move up to a bigger pot to accommodate its roots. Some plants need more frequent repotting than others. Watch for signs your plant needs repotting, like the appearance of roots at the surface or bottom of the pot, wilting between watering, yellow lower leaves or stunted growth. When it's time to repot, do so to keep your plants healthy.

Step 1

Take the plant out of its pot. If the soil is dry, water the plant well a few hours before, so it will come out more easily. For plants in smaller pots, simply tip the pot over and cover the soil with your hand. For larger pots, wrap an old towel around the rim of the pot and lay it on its side on the newspaper. Gently tap the towel-wrapped rim of the pot with the wooden mallet in several places until the root ball releases.

Step 2

Choose a clean, new pot that's 1 inch larger in diameter than the previous one. If the old pot had a diameter of 10 inches or more, select a new one that's at least 2 inches larger.

Step 3

Place a 1-inch layer of pebbles or clay shards in the bottom of pots that are 6 inches or larger in diameter, to improve drainage. For smaller pots, this step is unnecessary.

Step 4

Add enough potting soil to the bottom of the pot to bring the crown of the plant back to the same level it was in the old pot and gently pack it down.

Step 5

Set the plant in the center of the pot and add or remove soil to ensure the crown is at the proper level. This is vital because, if the plant is replanted at the wrong level, the roots might be damaged from exposure or rot.

Step 6

Fill the sides of the pot with potting mix and lightly firm the soil. If your pot is large, you will want to do this a few times as you fill in the sides so that there are no voids. Use a stick to firm soil down the sides of the pot, if you can't reach it with your hands. This step deserves careful attention because voids in potting mix can result in root damage.

Step 7

Water the plant thoroughly after potting but avoid over watering for the next two or three weeks, while new roots are forming.

Things You'll Need

  • Well-drained potting mix
  • Old towel
  • Newspaper
  • Wooden mallet
  • New pot


  • North Dakota State University
  • Crockett's Indoor Garden; James Underwood Crockett; 1978
Keywords: Repotting House Plants, Repotting Plants, Potting Up Plants

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.