How To Repot a Plant Without Killing It

When it comes to gardening, repotting a plant is one basic skill that is worth mastering. Repotting your plant is relatively simple in theory, however some larger or pot-bound plants can be a little difficult to re-plant. If not done correctly, you may hinder your plant’s growth or even end up killing a perfectly healthy plant. As highly experienced gardeners, we explain when you should repot your plant and how to do it without killing your plant.

When should you repot a plant?

As a general rule, most plants should be repotted every 12-18 months. However, some fast growing plants such as the Snake Plant and the Syngonium plant, may need to be repotted more regularly.

There are some other tells if your plant is needing to be repotted, which include:

  • Your plant is too big for the pot – if your pot plant looks like it may tip over, is obscured by foliage or simply looks out of proportion then it’s time to repot!
  • Overgrown roots – if your pot plant’s roots are growing out of the bottom of the drainage hole, or the sides and the top, then your plant has run out of room and need to be repotted
  • Yellow leaves – while yellowing leaves can be a sign of many different issues, such as overwatering and too much light, it also is a sign of needing to be repotted.

The best time of year to repot your plant is usually Spring. Some plants may be especially vulnerable before they flower so it’s best not to plant them during this period. Before you repot, make sure you do plenty of research into the type of plant you’re working with. Certain plants may require particular care, have a specific way they need to be repotted, or simply need some extra attention during the process. Before repotting your plant, do some reading about the best ways to replant the specific one you are working with.

How do you repot a plant without killing it?

Repotting can be a stressful time for a plant so you need to ensure you know what you are doing. The last thing you want is to end up accidentally killing your plant when repotting.  Follow our handy step by step guide below!

Step 1: Choose a new pot

The first step is to choose the pot that you wish to relocate your plant into. You will likely want to pick a pot that is larger than the one your plant is currently growing in, to allow for it to have ample space for growth. Choose a pot that is one or two sizes larger than the existing pot, but avoid choosing a pot which is too big for your plant as it can create issues such as root rot. We recommend choosing a pot drainage holes can be a good choice for most varieties, as plants generally like to have adequate drainage. If your plant is indoors, place a saucer underneath to catch excess water and avoid furniture or floor damage. 

Step 2: Prepare the plant’s new home

Before beginning the plant relocation process, make sure you prepare the new pot to be a good home. Repotting is the perfect time to refresh the soil and add additional nutrients through compost and fertiliser. Do some research into the type of soil composite the plant you’re repotting needs for best results. Some plants can suffer from ‘transplant shock’ so you may want to incorporate some of the existing soil into the new pot. When adding the soil into the pot, leave enough room for the plant and additional soil to go on top. You dig in a small hole in the soil so it’s ready for the new plant.

Step 3: Gently remove the plant

Now it’s time to remove your plant from its existing pot and transfer it to its new home. If your plant is positioned in a plastic pot, you may like to gently squeeze on the outside to loosen the soil and allow for the plant to easily slip out. If not, you will likely want to slightly tip the plant, support its stem and very gently remove it from the pot. It’s important that you are very careful with the stem so as not to separate the plant from its roots. Hold the stem as close to the roots as possible and support the roots when moving it into its new home. If the plant is a little too large, consider bringing in a friend for a little extra assistance. Once you have the plant out of the old pot, massage its roots to separate them a little before placing it in the new one.

Step 4: Repot the plant

Place the plant into the space you’ve created in the new pot. Pat the dirt around it to secure the roots, you may want to add some additional soil on top so the roots are completely covered and the plant is adequately supported. Once repotted, give the plant a good watering and place it in a position that suits it. 

Step 5: Keep an eye on it

Following repotting your plant, keep an eye on it for the next few days. If your repotting has been done correctly then your plant should be growing and thriving as usual. Common signs that the repotting has not been successful include; wilting, yellowing leaves and a dying plant. Check that your plant has adequate drainage and is being placed in the same temperature and lighting. 


If you need assistance with repotting your plants, you can trust Jim’s Mowing expert gardening services. You can also learn more about gardening maintenance and care on our blog

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