Repotting your plants is an essential part of plant ownership and care. Performing this process gives the owner a chance to examine the plants roots, which can provide insight into a plant’s health. However, it is very important not to repot your plants unnecessarily as it by nature can be stressful to the plant and its root system. With most plants, unless there is something of concern about the current soil or container, we always recommend waiting until a plant’s roots have outgrown its current pot before repotting.
Checking Your Plants Root System
While there are several signals and reasons why a plant may be ready to be re-potted, we always like to check its actual root system before making the final call. Typically, if you begin to see the plants roots are pushing out through the drainage holes in the bottom of its pot, it is undoubtedly ready to be re-potted into a larger container. If you don’t see roots poking through the current pots drainage holes just yet, you will want to check your plants root system. Lay the pot on its side and gently shimmy your plant out of the pot just partially so you can get a good look at its roots and soil. It is best to do this when the plants soil is in the process of drying out and is only slightly moist. This will ensure that the soil does not shift too much and leave you with a mess.
Upon inspection, if you see that many plants roots are starting to circle around the inside of the pot it is safe to go-ahead and re-pot the plant. If you find that the plant has roots that have not yet reached the exterior walls of the current pot it will be best to leave it for now and allow the roots some more time to develop. If you plant is in a plastic nursery pot that you want to cover, a cachepot\pot cover may be the perfect option.
New Plants & Acclimating
When bringing a new plant into your home, it should always be given at least 2 weeks to acclimate to your home. This is especially important with plants ordered by mail, as they need extra rest to de-stress from their journey. Changes in environment can be stressful for some plants, and it will take time for your plant to get used to its environment. While your plant is going through this acclimation period, it would be wise to allow it to rest.
Get to Know Your Plants & Their Individual Needs
Before re-potting, we would strongly encourage you to do some research regarding your particular plant. You may learn that your Monstera plant grows fast with large roots and likes to be re-potted often, or that your Peperomia has very fine and fewer roots that prefer to be bound, just like your Hoya. Like people, each plant and its needs are different. Different environments also dictate different needs. As you become more comfortable with different types of plants, their root systems, and your growing environment, choosing the right time to re-pot your plants will become more natural and intuitive. This is why we encourage you to spend the time to get to know your plants on an individual basis. They will reward you greatly for it!
Always keep in mind that your plants root system is naturally a very sensitive structure. In nature, a plant would almost never be uprooted and disturbed the way that it is as a houseplant. Be gentle and respectful with your plant, especially when handling its root system.
Other Signs or Reasons That it is Time to Repot
You may notice that you are having to water your plant more often than you used to. Many times, this is because the plants roots have out grown the current pot. You may also notice that the soil is drying out quickly or not fully absorbing water. This means the soil may be hydrophobic and past its prime. You may find a pest. The plant may currently be in a soil or pot with poor drainage. All of these are great reasons to go-ahead and repot your plant. Just be sure you don’t up the size of the container unless the roots have outgrown the current size.
A Note on Selecting the Proper Size Pot
As a rule, when a plant has outgrown its current pot, the new pot should only be about one size larger (around 2” in diameter and height). Therefore, a 2” starter plant should be potted up into a 3" to 4” pot, and a plant in a 4” pot should be potted up into a pot around 5” to 6” in diameter, and so on and so forth. Choosing a pot which is too large for your plant and its roots can result in problems and heartache. An oversized pot will encourage slow drying. If the plants root system is not large enough to drink the water in the soil, this will cause it to become overwhelmed with water and will eventually cause root rot. An overly large pot can also encourage your plant to direct energy towards root growth rather than foliage growth.