One of my least favorite spring tasks is repotting houseplants. Repotting any container plants, actually. But spring is the best time to do it because they are waking up from their winter dormancy and ready to start growing again.
Even if you don’t want your plant to get much larger, it’s still beneficial to repot, although if you want the plant to remain small, you will also want to prune the roots a little, by maybe a third, so they are not filling up the entire container.
Most potted plants benefit from being repotted every 3 – 4 years. If you have a lot of potted plants and you only have time to repot a few, the ones to focus on would be:
● Those where you see roots coming out the bottom of the pot
● Any that dry out quickly after watering. That usually means the roots have filled the container and there’s no soil left to soak up water.
● Plants whose roots are growing in circles. You will have to slide the plant out of the pot to see that.
● And any plants that just don’t seem to be thriving.
The ones you can hold off on are most flowering and tropical plants, because like to be snug in their pots, so unless they look stressed, you can let them be. Moving them into a larger container will encourage them to grow more roots, not leaves or flowers.
Some tips for repotting:
● It can be easier to remove plants from pots if the soil is moist. Water at least an hour before you plan to repot, so the soil has a chance to become evenly moist.
● If the roots are circled or entangled, go ahead and loosen them with your fingers.
● Repot into a container one size up from the original pot. For example move from a 6 inch pot to a 8 inch pot.
● Re plant at the same depth. Make sure your plant isn’t any deeper in the soil than it was. Remember, it will settle a bit, so err on the side of higher, rather than lower.
● Be sure to water thoroughly and allow the excess to drain. If you noticed the plant has settled considerably at that point, add more soil.
As for the old potting soil, don’t waste it. You can mix it with some fresh soil and add a little compost or fertilizer and reuse it in outdoor containers.