Repotting rules for green thumbs

By Laura McDonald

While spring has gardeners looking outdoors to bring life to empty deck containers, it’s also the right time to give indoor plants a second glance. Along with a good leaf cleaning to ward off insects, be sure to check your houseplants to see if they need repotting. Here’s how to tell if they do:

  • Roots will appear through the drainage holes.
  • New growth appears stunted in relation to the plant’s other foliage.
  • The plant dries out frequently.

If you find a houseplant that fits the above description. Here’s how to help it make its move successfully to a new home:

  • The new container should be one size up from the one the plant is currently in. For example, if your plant is currently in an 8-inch diameter container, move it to a 10-inch container (containers are typically sold in two-inch increments). This helps prevent overwatering.
  • Make sure the new container has a drainage hole.
  • Use good quality, lightweight potting soil formulated specifically for indoor plants.
  • After gently removing the plant from its current home, loosen the root ball slightly.
  • Place a layer of soil in the new container and place the plant on top, filling soil around the side of the plant and packing it down so it’s snug around the plant.
  • Leave at least an inch of free space from the top of the soil line to the top of the container so water is able to seep down to the plant’s roots and not roll off the top of the container.

After it’s placed in its new home, water the plant thoroughly and you’re done!


Laura McDonald is a Big Canoe resident and owner of Willow Gate Gardens. For more information visit Also, join the Big Canoe Houseplant Hangout Facebook page for indoor plant tips and more.

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