Repotting is a “traumatic episode” for a plant, but it is essential for its growth and development. If we have already decided that our houseplant needs repotting, we will have to be veeeery careful not to damage it more than necessary.
Choosing a new container
You can choose whichever you like, but be sure that IT HAS drainage holes. And the bigger, the better. Don’t worry about dirt escaping; we’ll take care of that later. Have you fallen in love with the nicest pot but it has no drainage holes? Well, it won’t do the job, I am sorry. You can, however, use a slightly smaller pot and put it inside your beloved one, but you’ll have to be extra careful when watering.
Regarding size, it has to be a bit bigger than the old one (about 4 or 5 cm bigger in diameter) but not too much, to avoid drenching where the roots don’t reach.
How to repot?
- It’s advisable to water the plant one or two before, as it is usually easier to repot when the substrate has some humidity.
- If you’re going to recycle an old pot from another plant, wash it before to avoid the new plant to be infected with possible pests.
- You can use a coffee filter or something similar at the bottom of the pot to keep the potting mix from escaping through the drainage holes. This step, however, is optional. Usually not a lot of substrate escapes. By the way, forget about the layer of gravel or little loose stones because they just take up space and have no effect on drainage.
- Put a layer of potting mix at the bottom and press a bit with your fingers, but just a little! Then, put the plant inside to see if the height is correct.
- Now it’s time to get that root ball out of the pot. You’ll have to be extra careful not to damage the roots.
- Use one of your hands to hold the plant and the soil and turn the pot around. Do not pull or push.
- If the pot is made of plastic, squeeze it a bit with the other hand to detach the root ball. If the pot is made of clay or any other non-squeezable material, slightly hit the base of the pot or the edge with the aid of a surface, like a table.
- If all this doesn’t work, we can try using a knife or similar to detach the plant from the pot, but be very careful not to damage the roots. They are so delicate.
- If everything fails, it’s time to get brutal. Destroy that pot :0
- If the plant is very big we won’t be able to put it upside down, so we’ll have to turn it on its side and use a tool to detach the root ball. We may need help not to damage the plant in the process.
- Once we have the root ball out, I like to loosen up the roots a bit with my fingers to untangle knots so the roots keep growing straight.
- Roots are light brown. If there are darker ones, smelly ones or soft ones, it’s advisable to prune them as they are sick or rotten.
- Now, introduce the plant in the new pot and fill the empty spaces with fresh potting mix, pressing a little.
- Finally, I like to water the plant to allow the soil to settle. However, if we’ve pruned the roots or the plant is prone to root rot, it may be better to wait a week or so before watering.
- After the process, put the plant in a spot with light and without extreme temperatures to recover from stress. Avoid fertilizers for a few weeks, as the roots may get burn by chemicals.