Should You Repot New Houseplants


Admittedly, your houseplant is quite new, but it’s also looking a little big for its pot, which makes you wonder if it’s time to repot. After all, the plant can’t grow in the pot it came in forever, right? It must be time to upgrade, but the question becomes, when?

Should I repot my new houseplants? If you’re insistent on repotting your new houseplant, then do it as soon as you get it. However, if you’ve had your plant for less than a year, more than likely, you do not need to repot it yet. Some plants can go 18 months and others even longer before they need a new pot. Repotting too often can stress out the plant, leading to browning at the leaf tips, wilting, and shed leaves. Proceed carefully!

In this article, we’ll help you figure out just when the time is right to repot your new indoor plant. It’s not that repotting is all bad; it has its benefits, which we’ll also share in this article. By the time you’re done reading, you’ll know that when you finally do repot your plant, it’s because it truly needed it.

When to Repot New Houseplants: Signs It’s Time

If there’s one thing you don’t want to do, it’s stress out your new houseplant. Repotting it will likely do just that, which is why we advocate for getting it out of the way at the beginning of your time with your indoor plant if you really must.

Hold on, what?

Before your plant ever came to your home or apartment, it lived at a nursery. There, it was tended to, watered regularly, and fertilized on occasion. It may have traveled great distances, accumulating hundreds or thousands of miles before it reached the garden store you bought it from.

Houseplants aren’t exactly frequent fliers. More than likely, your plant was already pretty stressed out when you bought it from the store. With time, it will acclimate, which is why if you’re eager to repot your houseplant, now’s as good a time as ever to do it. The plant is already in a stressed state, so it’s better to momentarily prolong the stress rather than let the plant recover and stress it out again months from now.

As we said in the intro, a stressed plant could develop leaf browning and overall wilting and drooping. The leaves could even fall off. Besides repotting it, changing the soil can also trigger this stress in the plant.

Okay, so you could repot then, but we have to ask, why would you want to? A new houseplant can’t grow so quickly that, within a few weeks, it’s too big for the pot it came in. Most indoor plants get repotted annually and some even more seldom than that. You’d have to give your new plant a monster fertilizer for it to necessitate a new pot already.

If it’s just that you think the plant needs a new home, it could be that you’re wrong. I’ve written a post that explains in detail how to know when to repot your houseplant. To recap, here are the times when you should upgrade your houseplant’s pot.

You Can Barely See the Pot Anymore

Significant growth is when the houseplant has gotten so large, full, and lush that you can’t really see the pot it came in. At that point, then yes, your plant needs a new pot.

The Drainage Holes Are All Full

If you read our recent post about rocks in the bottom of your houseplant’s pot, then you know how important it is that the pot’s drainage holes stay open. Otherwise, water can’t get out. It sits and accumulates in a pool, soaking the roots of your houseplant. The plant then either drowns due to low oxygen or develops root rot. Neither is very fun for your poor plant.  

In some cases, an indoor plant can block up the drainage holes on its own. This tends to only happen when it grows to a certain size. The roots have nowhere to go, so they might extend out of the drainage holes.

The Plant Doesn’t Absorb Water

The water you feed your houseplant should get absorbed to the root system so the plant can stay healthy and continue growing. If you notice water sitting on the flowers and leaves of the plant and the soil feels dry, that’s not good. A new pot could help.

The Soil Is in Bad Shape

Another issue with the soil to watch for is disintegration. When your soil feels crumbly, compact, or dry, you have one of two options. You can either switch out the soil for a new brand or you can repot your plant. Both can stress out your houseplant, so choose carefully.

The Benefits of Repotting Your Plant

Repotting shouldn’t be feared or dreaded. In fact, it’s something all gardeners will have to do over the lifespan of their plants, often more than once. You just have to make sure you’re only doing it when the houseplant needs it and not when you think it does.

Once you get the plant’s repotting schedule down, it can begin reaping the following benefits.

Produces More Plants

Those offshoots in your pot didn’t have room to grow before, but now that you’ve given them more adequate space, they’re thriving. With some time and tending, the offshoots could become full-fledged houseplants of their own, and all because you repotted.

Gives You the Chance to Tend to the Roots

Arguably the most important part of your houseplant is its roots. When you repot, you can now inspect the areas of your plant you typically don’t see, the root ball included. Review the health of the root ball and trim any roots that seem damaged or dying.

This can safeguard your plant from disease and fungus. Even better, if you’ve overwatered your houseplant to this point, by getting rid of the affected roots, you could encourage the plant to heal.

Your Houseplant Has Room to Get Bigger

This is an obvious perk, but we have to talk about it anyway. The bigger the pot, the more space a houseplant has to stretch its legs, so to speak. Its leaves will grow larger and more plentiful, the foliage colorful and bright.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should automatically skip to the biggest pot possible when repotting your houseplant. As we talked about before on this blog, a pot that’s too big can be just as detrimental to your plant as one that’s too small. You’re at an increased risk of your houseplant tipping over, the pot smashing on your apartment floor. Your poor plant could sustain serious damage from the fall.

Even if you put the houseplant somewhere where it couldn’t possibly fall, you have another problem. A bigger pot needs more soil. When you water all that soil, since there’s more of it, it retains moisture longer. As water lingers in the soil for extended periods, your plant has a much better chance of getting root rot.  

New Soil Provides the Nutrients a Growing Plant Needs

It’s true that switching soil types can stress out your indoor plant. We’re not saying to use a new type of soil when you repot then, just fresh soil.

You see, when you go maybe a year, sometimes longer between repotting, the soil loses its nutrients. This is something that happens through no fault of your own. Without the nutrients your houseplant needs, it could end up with deficiencies. These deficiencies impact growth and may yellow the plant leaves. Sometimes fertilizer can help, but not always.

Fresh soil can often make a world of difference though. All those nutrients your houseplant was missing are now delivered right to its roots. Its leaves will look lustrous, its color healthy, and your plant happy.

Related Questions

Is it okay to repot houseplants in winter?

Given that you own a houseplant, you can do a lot more with it in the winter than you could with an outdoor plant. Whether you should repot in the winter versus other times of the year though will depend on the houseplant in question. You want to repot ahead of the growing season to encourage the most growth. For a lot of indoor plants, that growing season is in the spring. You should repot when winter ends then.

Why did my plant die after repotting?

Uh-oh. Your houseplant was doing fine until you moved it to a new pot. Then, within a couple of weeks, it ended up dying. You can’t believe this happened. What did you do wrong?

More than likely, you overstressed the plant. Remember, repotting does induce stress in your houseplant, as does introducing new soil and sometimes even new fertilizer. A combination of those stressors could have done your plant in. Next time, limit how much stress you put the plant through at once.

Should I water my plants after repotting?

Since you have new soil in the pot, your first inclination may be to soak the soil with water. Instead, what you should do is sprinkle a bit of water on the houseplant, just until the soil moistens. Overwatering now could cause root rot and other damage, so err on the side of caution.

Fred Zimmer

I'm a lover of plants, animals, photography, & people, not necessarily in that order. Currently, I'm focused on photographing indoor plants & chachkies. I write & rewrite articles about creating an environment where indoor plants can thrive. I'm good at listening to music but bad at shopping to muzak.

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