How to Repot Garden Plants


Growing garden plants in pots streamlines care and makes it possible to garden in areas where soil is unsuitable for growing or space is limited. Repotting them may be necessary for a variety of reasons. Bringing plants inside or changing their location, providing fresh soil or allowing more room for roots and plants to grow are the most common reasons. Regardless of the reason, repotting a garden plant requires a new pot and fresh soil.

Step 1

Assess the size of the plant compared to the size of its original pot. If roots protrude through the drainage holes or are visible near the surface of the soil, the plant is root-bound and requires a bigger pot. If you are unsure, turn the planter over and tap gently to slide the plant loose from the pot. Tightly coiled roots in the bottom of the pot indicate the plant is root-bound.

Step 2

Select a pot two or three sizes larger that the original pot. A plant in a 6-inch pot should be transplanted into a 10- to 12-inch pot to allow adequate room for roots to grow. Larger plants may require a large bucket or tub.

Step 3

Loosen the roots and remove loose soil. Severely root-bound plants may require trimming of the old roots to expose fresh, young roots to the new soil. Clip a section of roots and gently tug to release the tightly wound mass of roots. Trim away any dead or dying roots to allow young roots to thrive.

Step 4

Fill the new pot three-quarters full with the appropriate soil mixture for the plants. Most thrive with a mixture of equal parts peat moss, all-purpose potting soil and perlite. This creates a lightweight soil formula with good drainage.

Step 5

Spread the roots over the soil and fill in around the plant with fresh soil. Firm gently to secure the base of the plant at the original soil level. Stake large plants with plant stakes or a wooden dowel, if necessary.

Step 6

Water until water runs freely through the bottom drainage holes and place in similar lighting to its original location. Allow soil to dry before watering again.

Things You'll Need

  • Plant pot/container
  • Scissors/sharp knife
  • Soil mixture (peat moss, perlite, all-purpose potting soil)
  • Plant stake/dowel (optional)


  • Purdue University Cooperative Extension: Indoor Plant Care (PDF)
  • Clemson University Extension: Indoor Plants-Transplanting and Repotting
  • Maryland Cooperative Extension: Seasonal and Indoor Plant Tips

Who Can Help

  • University of Illinois Cooperative Extension: Repotting Houseplants
Keywords: repot garden plants, repotting, garden plants

About this Author

Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with 4 years experience in online writing and a lifetime of personal journals. She is published on various sites, including Associated Content. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.