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November 26, 2018 4 min read

I didn't dare try potting houseplants until we had multiple plants very obviously outgrowing their nursery pots! In fact, we had a dozen houseplants of our own before I ever mustered up the courage to actually pot one of them myself. I had numerous questions about transplanting a plant from one container to another. How do I know what size pot to use? When is the best time of year to pot my plants? What about potting soil?

So. Many. Questions. But potting your houseplants doesn’t have to be complicated. I’m here to dish the dirt on how to properly pot your beloved plant babes. Let’s dig in, shall we?

When to Pot Your Houseplants

Before you run to the plant shop and grab a new pot, let's talk about the ideal time to pot a houseplant. Plants have growing seasons and resting seasons. Their growing season is from spring to early fall and the resting season is from fall to late winter. This is important to know, as plants should be potted during their growing season. The best time to pot a plant is in spring, so the roots have time to become acclimated to the new potting soil.

Repotting VS. Potting Up

If you haven't noticed, the Internet throws out a lot of confusing lingo around houseplant care, potting included. Here are a couple of common terms and what they mean.

Potting up: Eventually your plant may outgrow its current pot. It may grow roots out of the drainage holes, or push itself up out of the pot. When this happens, you know it's time to pot up! Potting up simply means potting a plant into a larger pot. Typically you only need to go up in size by 1 or 2 inches. Note that this is measured by a pot's diameter, not its height! For example, a plant that is currently in a 6 inch pot might need to be potted up into an 8 inch pot.

Repotting: Some plants grow quite slowly and don't need larger pots for several years. Still, you may want to consider re-potting a plant to give it new nutrients from fresh potting soil. Repotting means potting a plant into the same container, but removing some of its old soil and adding in that fresh soil.

Supplies You'll Need to Pot Your Houseplant

First things first: what on earth do you need to properly pot a plant? You'll need a few things to help you out. In addition to your plant, you'll want:

  • some fresh potting soil
  • a properly sized pot
  • a watering can

Choosing the Best Potting Soil

These days, it's easy peasy to grab a pre-mixed bag of potting soil from your local garden center. You can go this route or mix up your own. Most of the time the pre-mixed stuff works just fine and, let's be honest, this can make life a bit easier. If you'd like to mix your own, however, it's certainly not complicated and only requires a few "ingredients." Read more on that here.

The biggest concern when it comes to potting soil revolves around drainage. Some pre-mixed soil is specific to plants who love fast-draining soil OR plants who prefer moist soil. For instance, you want to plant succulents and cacti in fast-draining soil since they hail from desert-like climates, where the soil is sandy. Sandy soil translates to faster drainage. On the flip side, tropicals like moisture and do well in regular ol' houseplant potting soil.

How to Pot Your Houseplant

Now that you've got all the necessary supplies... it's finally time to actually transfer your plant into its new pot. This is the fun part!

  1. Take ahold of your plant in its current pot and gently remove the plant from the pot. Do this carefully, holding the plant as close to the base of the soil as possible so you don't damage its leaves. Most plants will come out of their pot without any issues, but if it seems stuck, gently squeeze and wiggle the pot until the plant comes loose.
  2. If the plant has lots of tight roots, loosen them up a bit by massaging the roots. This will also help encourage the roots to grow down into the new pot!
  3. Before placing the plant in its new pot, make sure there is some new soil in the new pot. How much soil you put in the bottom of the new pot will depend on the size of the pot. Common sense comes into play here, but you'll want the base of your plant (where the stems meet the top of the soil) to sit two inches or so lower than the very top of the pot.
  4. Once you've placed the plant in its new pot, fill in any gaps between the root ball and the side of the pot with potting soil. You don't want to pack it down too tightly, but make sure the roots are totally surrounded with soil.
  5. After you've added in the soil, go ahead and give your plant a thorough watering. This will help the plant settle into its new home!

See? Now that wasn’t so hard. Before ya know it, you’ll be potting your houseplants like a pro. Share your newly potted plant pics with us by tagging us on Instagram!

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