Though repotting may seem simple to some, it can also be easy to overthink, especially if it's your first time. When you discover your love for houseplants, it's a magical feeling, especially when you see new growth unfurl shortly after bringing them home. However, collecting plants requires more than just watching them grow. Nurturing and caring for your plants will help them thrive!
Since we love getting down and dirty, let's break down how we actually repot plants!
LET’S GET DIRTY
Here's what you’ll need:
- A tarp or newspaper as a repotting station
- Ideal Soil.Ninja substrate suitable for the plant you're repotting
- A shovel, scoop, or your hands if you don't mind getting dirty
- Various nursery or terracotta pots with drainage holes
Roll out a tarp or lay down some newspaper with the Soil.Ninja substrate ready to go. Gather a few nursery pots in different sizes, larger and smaller than the current pot of your plant. It's always good to have options as you never know how root-bound the plant is or if you need to trim it back. You can often find free nursery pots at garden centres or on platforms like Facebook Marketplace, so take a look around before buying different sizes.
[Philodendron Imperial Green from Stamford Botanics]
First, give the nursery pot a gentle squeeze in the middle while securely holding the base of the plant. Sometimes the plant will come out easily, but you may need to wiggle, shake, and tap the pot a few times. If you're having trouble removing the plant, place it on its side and gently roll the pot while pushing down in the middle (be careful with the foliage). Eventually, you will be able to wiggle the base of the plant free.
Now comes the most crucial part of repotting. Gently massage the root ball to remove all the old substrate from the roots. Thoroughly examine the root system to ensure it's healthy before placing it in its new home. Watch out for any signs of rot! If you notice dark or black roots that smell like decay, give them a gentle squeeze. If they feel mushy and easily come off, you're dealing with root rot. For guidance on how to treat this issue, check out our 'root rot' blog post.
Leaving large clumps or pockets of old substrate on the plant's roots, especially peat moss, can hinder even water distribution. Make sure to remove all the previous substrate from the roots so that when you repot the plant in the new substrate, it can fully utilise the components and nutrients within the blend.
Now it's time to determine the pot size you'll need. Take a few pots from your selection and place the plant's roots in them to see how they fit. Remember to leave around 1/3 of the base of the pot filled with soil and some space around the sides of the root system. The root ball should have room to grow, but not too much as this could increase the risk of rot. Potting into a pot that's too large will cause the soil to take longer to dry out, and the roots may struggle to utilise the moisture, leading to root drowning.
Once you've found the perfect pot, fill the base around 1/3 of the way up with substrate. Place the roots on top of the substrate in their proper position, and hold the base of the plant in the middle of the pot just below the lip. Shovel, scoop, or pour the soil around the plant. Tapping the pot on the surface a couple of times will help the components settle snugly around the roots.
After filling the pot, gently press the substrate down and tap the pot on the surface a few more times until the plant feels secure. Add any extra substrate to fill in any gaps, and voilà - you did it!
Now you might be wondering, should you water the plant right away? That's a great question! For xeric plants like cacti and succulents, hold back on watering for a few weeks as they won't appreciate it immediately. Less is more when it comes to these desert plants. For most other plants, allow them to settle for a few days or even a week before watering. Thirstier plants like Prayer Plants, Peace Lilies, and Alocasia may appreciate a drink after repotting.
Now go out there and get knee-deep in dirt. If you can handle repotting, you can do anything!