Your houseplant will grow more and more the longer you have it. Even if you buy a houseplant that’s already artfully nestled into a chic ceramic pot, it will eventually outgrow it, and will need to be transplanted.
Transplanting is a normal part of plant ownership, but it’s still a delicate process. There’s definitely a wrong way to transfer your plant to a new pot, but the right way is simple and easy. Here’s how to give your houseplants a smooth transition.
General Steps for Transplanting
Whether you’re rearranging the garden or starting with plants from a garden shop, the basic steps of transplanting are the same.
- Remove the plant from its pot.
- Inspect the roots. If roots completely cover the soil, tease them gently apart. If they are concentrated too heavily at the bottom of the pot, loosen them thoroughly.
- Place the plant in a prepared hole. The plant should sit at soil level, or a little higher, if your soil is loose or sandy.
- Firm the soil around the plant with your hands.
- Water well. Watering will encourage the plant’s roots to grow into the soil.
Replanting Indoor Plants from Nursery Pots
If you’ve just brought home a new houseplant that’s still in a plastic nursery pot, you’re more than likely excited to get it outfitted into something a little more decorative. For a new houseplant as young as this, choose a container that’s approximately the same size as the nursery pot. The plant should be comfortable in the new container for some time before it becomes rootbound, so something similar in size should suit it perfectly.
When you’re ready to transplant, first make sure the soil in the pot is a little moist. If the soil is too dry, it may crumble out of the container as you’re transplanting and make for a messier and more stressful process. Water the soil and leave the plant for a few minutes so the soil is damp, but settled.
Prepare the new pot by filling it ¼ full with a soil mix that matches what the new plant is already growing in. Make sure your plant’s new home has drainage holes that are unobstructed so water can escape freely.
Next, turn the new houseplant on its side and slowly ease out the contents of the nursery pot, which should emerge in more or less one piece. You should be left with a pot-shaped clod of soil and roots. Slide this “root ball” into the new container. Once it’s in place, give it a little more water to help the soil settle into its new home.
Moving Plants to Bigger Pots
Some houseplants, like rubber plant, monstera, Christmas cactus, and ZZ plants have the potential to get MUCH bigger over time. These plants will eventually become rootbound and need to be transplanted into a larger container.
When you need to transplant a houseplant into something larger, consider their speed of growth before buying a new container. Monstera, for example, grows pretty quickly under ideal conditions. Other plants, like ZZ plants, are slow-growing and take a long time to outgrow another container. For fast-growing plants, choose a pot 2-4” larger in diameter than the current one. If the plant is slow-growing, a pot 1-2” larger should do the trick.
The transplanting process is basically the same as it is for new plants, with a few exceptions. Fill the new container ¼ full with a matching soil mix, place the old pot on its side, ease the root ball out (with larger plants, this might be a 2-person job), and re-plant into the new container. Then, fill in the gaps around the plant with more potting soil. Top up the container with soil until it’s full to the brim, then add water to settle.