Ruby Flora is a plant shop that promotes communication and conversation surrounding houseplants and their care. I seek to educate and inspire all the plant lovers who enter through my doors.
So you've been doing good with your latest houseplants, maybe you’ve had your plants for a year now, or maybe even 2 years! Hooray! So what now? Do you repot or no?
A popular question that comes up a lot in the shop is "can I move this to a bigger pot?" Like all things planty-related, the answer to that question isn't very simple and it kinda depends on a lot of factors.
I want to say something before we get into the meat of this post, after you bring a plant home from the plant shop, give it some relaxation time before doing literally anything to it! A couple weeks (at least) in the plastic nursery pot will help the plant acclimate to its new adopted home. And always, if you must repot the plant, please make sure to use a pot with drainage! DRAINAGE, DRAINAGE, DRAINAGEEEEE.
I am going to list a few scenarios on why you may think it's time to repot. If more than one of them applies to you, then perhaps it is time to give your plant a bigger home. Upgrade, baby!
Scenario 1: My plant is growing like crazy!
Often we see one of our houseplants growing like crazy... loving life, pushing out new growth, and maybe even flowering! I know it's tempting to give that well-performing plant new digs so it reaches maximum potential but stop and think about it first. New growth = happy plant, but it doesn't always mean the plant wants to be repotted. Let it chill a little longer, no need to repot just because it's happy. It's happy for a reason.
Scenario 2: The roots are coming out of the pot and/or drainage hole.
This is absolutely a sign that the plant wants out of its current pot. Roots expanding out the bottom often mean subterranean roots are seeking more soil to expand into. See the photo below for what a root bound plant looks like when you pull it out of its pot.
Side note: Keep in mind that some plants, like the Monstera deliciosa, grow aerial roots. Aerial roots are not a sign that the roots beneath the soil need more room to grow. Aerial roots search for water and something to grab onto for support. So knowing the difference between subterranean roots and aerial roots is important when it comes to deciding when (or if) to repot.
Scenario 3: My plant doesn't grow anymore and/or new growth is smaller.
If new leaves come in looking smaller than the original leaves on the plant, this could be a sign a plant is root bound and growth has officially reached its peak inside the current pot. This could also be a result of improper lighting as well, so my rule of thumb is to move the plant to a brighter spot and see if that works. If not, attempt to repot into a pot size larger.
Scenario 4: I have to water constantly and my soil never seems to stay hydrated for long!
Potting soil will become compacted over a long period of time and possibly hydrophobic. Compacted soil (or hydrophobic soil) will not allow the water to fully reach the roots, thus creating a thin and weak root system which is definitely not a good road for your plant to go down. If you feel this is happening to your soil, it's time for some new airy soil with nutrients.