How to Move a Plant From a Small Container to a Large One


Plants potted in containers for significant periods eventually outgrow their container. Due to lack of room, the root system encircles the root ball inside the container, leaving little to no room for the roots to expand. To keep plants healthy and allow room for soil to promote adequate root growth, re-potting root-bound plants to larger containers is necessary. The process for re-potting flowers, vegetables, trees, plants and shrubs follow the same basic steps.

Step 1

Prep the plant for re-potting by saturating the container's soil with water. Set plant aside to allow the soil to thoroughly absorb the water and drain the excess.

Step 2

Prepare the potting soil mixture using the large container as a guide. Fill the container approximately 2 inches from the top with potting soil. Pour the soil into the bucket and add water. Use the trowel to mix the soil and water to create a moist and malleable mixture. Add additional water or potting soil, as needed, to adjust the texture. Set aside.

Step 3

Place a layer of small rocks or pebbles at the bottom of the large container to encourage good drainage. Refill the container with the moistened potting soil mixture approximately 2 inches from the top rim.

Step 4

Squeeze the sides of plastic containers gently to loosen the soil. Use a knife to loosen soil and overgrown roots from around the inside of ceramic containers, if necessary. Use garden clippers to snip roots growing outside of the container preventing the plant to be removed, or to cut away a plastic itself. Hold the container securely and slowly turn the plant upside down. Be prepared to support the plant as it slides from the container to prevent breakage of the stems.

Step 5

Shake excess soil from the root ball. Use clippers to remove dead or damaged roots and to prune the root ball. Use the trowel to scoop out potting soil to a depth to accommodate the roots. Place the plant into the container and gently fill in all areas around the roots using the moistened soil. Add soil and lightly press into place up to the rim of the container.

Step 6

Water the plant, place it out of the sun and allow it to drain. If necessary, add more potting mixture once the soil has settled.

Things You'll Need

  • Containers
  • Bucket
  • Potting soil
  • Gardening trowel
  • Small rocks
  • Knife or garden clippers


  • Dummies: Steps for Fool-Proof Repotting
Keywords: repotting plants, container plants, potted plants, overgrown container plants, rootbound plants

About this Author

Vickie Ferguson began freelancing in1998 and hasn't put the pen down since. Her editorial stints have included working as a reviewer, managing editor and senior managing editor. She writes for several websites and covers a range of topics, including travel guides, gardening, home d├ęcor, crafts, pets and wildlife. Ferguson specializes in flower craft articles and has worked in the flower craft business for some time.