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Caring for Houseplants - Houseplants - University of Illinois Extension

Caring for Houseplants

Re-potting

When should a plant be re-potted? Some plants may need re-potting each year while others may not need it for many years. Also, some plants seem to do well when pot-bound while others do not.

Here are some indicators for when a plant needs to be re-potted.

  • Roots begin to grow through the drainage holes.

  • Roots appear on the soil surface.

  • The soil mass is filled with roots.

  • New leaves are smaller than normal.

  • The plant wilts between normal waterings.

Timing is important. Re-potting is best accomplished when the plant is actively growing. Typically this is done in spring or early summer.

Sometimes it is best to simply replace the old and tired plant, especially if it is too large for the space. You may purchase a new one, or depending upon the plant type, make a new plant using the correct propagation technique.

Gently knock the plant out of its container and look at the roots. For root-bound plants, cut and/or unwind any circling roots. If there is a salt buildup (crusty white residue) on the soil surface, remove it carefully by scraping away the top inch of old soil. Then replant into the new container using fresh potting mix. Make sure the plant is re-potted at the same depth it was grown in the old pot. Gently press the soil around the roots and water immediately. Also, leave a little room at the top of the pot to allow for easy watering.

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