A Guide to Repotting New Houseplants

  • 4 min read

A Guide To Repotting New Houseplants

You’ve just gotten a new houseplant, congratulations! Getting a new family member is always exciting, but before anything, stop and think: do you need to repot your new plant?

Repotting isn’t something you can just do anytime, anywhere. It requires supplies, timing, and tender care to repot a plant successfully. Even after repotting, you’ll still have to manage transplant shock, so should you do it?

Should I Repot a New Plant?

In short, the answer is yes. Whenever you receive a new plant, it’s essential to move it to a newer, more permanent home as soon as you can. 

1. If the Plant is Bare Root

If you receive a plant bare-root, you’ll need to repot it right away. Bare-root plants are shipped in a dormant state and require moisture and nutrients to grow. A bare-root plant may also have dry roots, which need water as soon as possible. 

2. If the Plant is in a Pot Already 

If your plant is already in its own pot, it’s still a good idea to repot it anyway. When purchasing plants from garden stores or online, the plant goes through lots of stress while traveling. After sitting in a store for a while, it may continue to grow and become root bound in its tiny, plastic pot. Upscaling your plant’s home as soon as possible is always a good idea to prevent it from becoming root-bound, which can cause poor drainage, choke out new root growth, and potentially damage the plant. Some plants, like the Hoya, Snake Plant, and Spider Plant, prefer to be root bound and don’t need repotting as urgently as other plants.

Even if your new plant isn’t root-bound, there are still chances of extra environmental stress that comes with pre-planting. Your new plant may not receive enough drainage in its current pot, or its soil may not have enough aeration. The pot may still be too small for a long growing season, or the pot’s material may retain too much heat.

Hoya Kerrii Heart, Houseplant Repotting
If your plant is already in its own pot, it’s still a good idea to repot it anyway.


When to Repot your New Plant

The best time to repot your new plant is as soon as you get it, regardless of the growing season. While it’s typically recommended to repot your plants during their growing season, a new plant is more likely to suffer stress from the location change, so you might as well repot it now. 

Fortunately, many garden stores sell certain plants during their growing seasons, so you can repot any new leafy friends as soon as you get them without worrying about timing.

Houseplant Repotting, Time To Repot Your Houseplants
The best time to repot your new plant is as soon as you get it


Repotting Your New Houseplant

So it’s time to repot your new houseplant. Let’s get started!

Things You’ll Need

The first step to repotting any plant is to collect your materials. For repotting a new plant, you’ll need fresh, well-draining soil and a clean pot at least 10% larger than your plant. You’ll also need a clean trowel or shovel, some water, and gardening gloves if desired. If your new plant comes in a pot, consider having a clean, sharp knife on hand.

Depending on the plant you have, your soil needs may change. Check out our soil guides for houseplants and succulents to find the right soil for your plant!

Soil for houseplants, Soil For Repotting Houseplants
Prepare fresh, well-draining soil and a clean pot at least 10% larger than your plant
Photo by Lisa

Time to Repot!

It’s time to repot your new houseplant. To make sure your plant gets the smoothest move possible, follow these steps:

1. Loosen your plant from its pot. Turn your plant sideways, supporting the stem, and use your fingers to loosen the top layer of soil. Give your plant a light pull to see if it’s loose enough to remove. Continue working your way through the soil at the sides of your pot until the plant is loose enough to slide out.
  • If your plant is root-bound, take your knife and bring it around the sides of the pot, freeing any roots that may have fused with the material. 

 2. Remove any excess soil and debris from the roots.Using a clean hand, gently brush off any excess soil surrounding the plant’s roots. During this time, check for root rot or any signs of damage. You will not need to remove dirt if your plant has arrived bare-root.

  • For root-bound plants, now is the time to carefully detangle your plant’s roots. Begin detangling with your hand, gently pulling any tangled roots away from the root ball, then prune any damaged, rotted, or severely tangled roots.

3. Fill your pot with soil.Depending on your root depth, fill the new pot about one-half to two-thirds full with your fresh soil. For plants that require extra drainage, lay some gravel at the bottom of your pot before adding in any soil. Create a divet to place your new plant in the middle of your pot.

4. Put your plant in the pot.Gently lay your new plant in the divet you made, and fill the sides with soil. Make sure your plant’s roots are completely covered by adding a little more soil or a fine layer of compost on top. 


Post-Potting Care Tips

After repotting, your new houseplant will most likely struggle with transplant shock. It may appear droopy, faded, or have a slower growth rate than usual during this time. This is completely normal, and it’s also normal for transplant shock to hit especially hard after repotting a brand-new houseplant. To make sure your plant has plenty of time to adjust to its new surroundings, wait a day after potting and water your plant. Make sure any excess water drains completely from the pot afterward. Monitor your soil’s moisture levels daily to start creating a watering routine. To help perk up your new houseplant, we recommend adding a little water-soluble fertilizer, compost, or sugar water to your soil to boost its nutrients and help it grow.

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