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How to Repot Outdoor Plants

By Elton Dunn ; Updated September 21, 2017
Repotting provides fresh nutrients.

Every year or two, depending on the speed at which it grows, repot your outdoor plant using fresh potting soil to ensure a steady stream of nutrients. If the plant is too large for its container, the roots will be circled. It needs to be transplanted into a larger container. Cactus and succulents grow slowly and prefer to have a snug fit in the pot and can go two years between repotting, while other outdoor plants like ivy grow faster and need more frequent repotting. Whenever repotting an outdoor plant, choose a container one size larger than the one currently holding the plant.

Cut a piece of mesh screen to sit at the bottom of the new pot. The screen covers the drainage holes and prevents soil from falling out of the bottom of the pot each time you water. Always choose a container with drainage holes so your plant does not develop root rot and so excess rainwater doesn't flood your container.

Fill a new container one-half to two-thirds of the way full with potting soil.

Remove your outdoor plant from its pot. Turn the pot over on its side and wiggle it to slowly shake the plant from the pot if the pot is small. If the plant won't come out, squeeze the sides of a plastic pot together, then try to wiggle it again. If your plant is in a large container that's too heavy to move, loosen the soil around the top of the plant with a fork, then pull upward on the base of the plant to tug it free.

Massage the plant's root ball between your fingers to break up any tangled roots. Check the roots and trim any that appear broken or damaged with clippers. Work the root ball with your fingers until all the roots are loose.

Place the plant in the new container. Spread the roots against the soil with your fingers.

Fill in the rest of the container with soil, pressing loosely to mound the soil against the plant's roots.

Water the newly repotted plant until the soil compresses around the plant's roots. Top the container off with more soil if the soil level seems low, then water again.


Things You Will Need

  • Scissors
  • Mesh screen
  • Container
  • Potting soil
  • Fork
  • Clippers


  • Repot your plants in the spring to summer when they are actively growing, advises the University of Illinois.

About the Author


A successful website writer since 1998, Elton Dunn has demonstrated experience with technology, information retrieval, usability and user experience, social media, cloud computing, and small business needs. Dunn holds a degree from UCSF and formerly worked as professional chef. Dunn has ghostwritten thousands of blog posts, newsletter articles, website copy, press releases and product descriptions. He specializes in developing informational articles on topics including food, nutrition, fitness, health and pets.