Repotting houseplants seems like a pretty straightforward task, and we’re often tempted to repot our new plants as soon as we get them home. However, repotting can be a somewhat traumatic experience for plants, and some are more sensitive to this disruption than others. The journey from the garden center to your home is quite an adjustment for your plants, and they should be given a little time to rest before repotting.
When Should I Repot My Houseplants?
Repotting houseplants is best done when the plants are actively growing, which happens from April through August here in Iowa. After this time, plants go dormant, and repotting should be avoided unless the plant is showing signs of being severely rootbound. If you’ve brought a new houseplant home, give it about 3-5 days to rest and adjust to its new environment before you repot it.
A Bigger Plant Pot is Not Always Better
Overplanting is a common problem with houseplants. Overplanting happens when plants are repotted into containers that are too large, leaving a small root system sitting in a large volume of potting soil. This contributes to over watering problems and can cause poor root development and root rot. Most plants like to be potted in smaller containers, and it’s okay for them to be a little rootbound. We recommend sizing up no more than one size from the current pot. This is usually done in 2” increments for pot sizes.
If you are planting a plant that prefers specific conditions, like an orchid, it may need a specialized container. Orchid containers have large holes in the side of the pot for extra air circulation around the roots.
What Type of Soil Should I Use?
Most houseplants will benefit from a good quality potting mix; there are even a few available designed specifically for certain houseplants.
Some plants, like orchids and cacti, definitely need specialty mixes. Orchid potting mix and cactus mix are both free draining, but they feature very different types of materials. Planting orchids or succulents in other media can cause disease and root rot problems from overwatering.
How Do I Deal with Rootbound Plants?
When you remove your plant out of the old container, you will often see tangled roots. When you see more roots than soil, it means the plant is rootbound or potbound. In some cases, this can require an intervention. When repotting, it’s crucial to separate these roots before planting in the new pot. Very gently, pull some of the roots apart and untangle them from each other. Take out as much of the old soil as you can at the same time. You will break some roots while you’re doing this, but that’s okay. Some broken roots will encourage the plant to grow new roots (however, orchids are an exception to this rule). Carefully place the plant roots into the new pot prepared with a layer of fresh orchid mix at the bottom, and backfill around and over the roots. Leave about half an inch of space between the lip of the pot and the top of the soil line to allow room for watering.
Orchids Are The Exception
Some specialized plants have their own rules that need to be followed using the example above. Orchid roots don’t grow the way other plants do, so do your best not to damage or break any of the roots while repotting—be very delicate. Orchids also like to have some air roots, so leave some of them exposed.
Repotting After Care Tips
Tropicals and foliage plants should be soaked deeply right after repotting.
Cacti should not have their watering schedule adjusted when repotted—place them in the new pot and don’t water them until they’re due for a drink.
Should I Fertilize After Repotting?
It may be tempting to break out the fertilizer after repotting. However, it’s best to wait at least a month before fertilizing. Fresh potting soil is loaded with the nutrients your plant needs to get a good head start on growing new roots, so fertilizer shouldn’t be required for up to 3 months depending on your mix.
Whatever you need for repotting your houseplants this spring, we’ve got you covered. Stop by our garden center today, and we’ll send you home with everything you need to make repotting as trauma-free as possible for your houseplants.
If you’re looking to add some exotic, strange, or straight-up strange-looking plants to your home, stop by our garden center. We’ve got plenty of weird and wonderful houseplants for you to discover!