For plant lovers, there’s no more exciting feeling than bringing home a brand new plant from the nursery. The first thing you want to do is make your plant feel at home in a beautiful new pot. But should you repot plants after buying them?
Before you make this transition, understand that plants can react in different ways when repotted. Repotting right away can cause all sorts of issues, from stressing out the plant to damaging the roots. But, if done right, repotting can also allow your new plant to flourish in your home!
Usually, you do not need to repot a plant right after buying it. But if you want to repot your plant, we’ll provide you with the proper techniques.
What to Do After Buying a Plant
Your new plant has come a long way to make it into your hands. The nursery or garden center might be hundreds of miles from the store where you bought it. Not only did the plant travel in a dark truck to get there, but it also likely traveled in many different temperatures.
It may be tempting to transfer it into a nice, fresh pot right away. But, this can kill the plant if it is already stressed. Signs of stress include:
- Wilted leaves
- Dropped leaves or flowers
- Reaching toward the light
- Brown leaf tips
If you notice any of these signs, address them before you start repotting. Since the plant has already been shocked, the added stress of repotting may be too much. Allow the plant to get used to the light and climate of your house for a week or so first.
When Should You Repot Plants?
Plants don’t need to be repotted very often. Every 12-18 months is suitable, although it depends on the type of plant. Succulents and cacti only need to be repotted every few years. Younger plants outgrow their containers quickly and require repotting more often.
Our plants generally let us know when it’s time to be repotted. Look out for these signs:
- Roots coming out of the drainage holes
- Plant is top-heavy
- Soil dries out quickly
- Plant stops growing
Roots Coming Out the Drainage Holes
Gently turn your new plant upside down and have a look at the drainage holes on the bottom. Do you see soil, or do you have a tangle of roots growing through the holes? Protruding roots is a sign that your plant is root-bound.
What this means is that the root system has grown too big for the current container. Root-bound plants won’t have much soil left in the pot and may be suffering from nutrient loss. The best thing you can do for a root-bound plant is to move it to a new pot right away.
Plant Is Top-Heavy
A top-heavy plant is more likely to fall over and get damaged. This puts unnecessary stress on the plant.
Toppling over is a sign that the plant has outgrown its current pot. Upgrading to a bigger size will give it the space, soil, and nutrients it needs to stay healthy. If your plant naturally grows top-heavy, choose a heavier pot to give it more stability.
Soil Dries Out Quickly
Does it seem like you’re constantly watering your new plant, yet the soil is always dry? This could be a sign that the plant is having a growth spurt. A bigger sized pot will hold more soil, which in turn will hold more water. This water will transport the nutrients your plant needs to grow.
Plant Stops Growing
This one will be difficult to determine if you’ve just bought your plant, but nonetheless should be addressed. If a plant stops producing new growth, it could be time to repot.
Most nurseries and garden centers regularly fertilize their plants. This helps them constantly produce new growth. If your plant’s growth is stagnant after you take it home, repotting can help revitalize it. New soil contains fertilizer and nutrients that may give your plant the boost it needs.
How Do You Repot a Plant After Buying It?
So, you’ve examined your plant and decided it’s time for a new pot. These simple repotting techniques will help ensure your plant thrives in its new home:
- Untangle the roots
- Add fresh soil
- Choose the right sized pot
- Pick a pot with good drainage
Untangle the Roots
Remove the pot gently, especially if it has roots growing out of the drainage holes. The root system of your plant is its lifeline, so try not to damage it. If the plant isn’t coming out, gently squeeze the plastic pot until the sides come loose.
Check on the roots once the plant is out of the old pot. If they are all bunched together, untangle them by massaging the root ball. The looser the roots, the better they will grow in their new pot.
Add Fresh Soil
While you’re untangling the roots, let the old soil fall away. Old soil tends to be hard and doesn’t hold water as well as it used to. The new soil will contain fresh nutrients and fertilizer.
It’s a good idea to lightly wet the new soil before you add it to the pot. This ensures that the soil absorbs water evenly. When you pack the soil around the plant, leave a 1-inch lip from the top.
Choose the Right Sized Pot
In the horticulture industry, pot sizes generally increase in 2-inch intervals. So if your new plant is currently in a 2-inch pot, you should resize it to a 4-inch pot.
It’s important that you don’t put your plant into an oversized pot. All that extra soil will hold too much water and create the perfect environment for root rot. When this happens, the roots are unable to soak up nutrients and the plant will die.
Pick a Pot with Good Drainage
While picking a pretty pot is half the fun, picking one with good drainage is more important. Ensure that the pot you choose has drainage holes in the bottom. This will allow any excess water to exit, and prevent root rot.
Choose pots with detached saucers, rather than attached. With attached saucers, you can’t dispose of the excess water, which defeats their purpose.
Clay pots are a popular pot option since they are porous and allow water to drain through their walls. If you find a pot you like that doesn’t have drainage, you can always drill holes in the bottom.
Should You Water Indoor Plants After Repotting?
After your plant has been placed into its new pot, it might be in shock. Root damage is also very common when repotting. So, it can take a few days for your plant to properly settle into its new home.
You should lightly water the plant once it has been repotted. Watering helps the plant settle into the soil. A firmly potted plant leads to nice strong roots.
Avoid soaking the plant completely, so you don’t waterlog the root system. Once the plant has been repotted for a week, any damaged roots should be repaired, and you can water it normally.
Should You Trim the Roots When Repotting?
Repotting allows your plant to grow bigger, which is what most of us want to see. But what if you want your plant to stay the same size? In that case, you can trim the roots to stunt the plant’s growth.
Root trimming involves cutting off part of the plant’s root system. Usually, you prune the excess roots around the root ball. This is often performed on plants like bonsai trees, or potted trees that you don’t want growing through your ceiling.
It’s certainly not necessary to do this when repotting a typical indoor plant. After all, most of the time the goal is for the plant to get bigger. But if you’ve bought a large plant that you don’t want growing anymore, you can trim the roots when repotting.
Repotting can be tricky, but when done right, it will allow your plant to thrive. Generally, there’s no rush to repot a plant right after you get home from buying it.
It’s best to wait at least one week to allow the plant to get used to the light and climate of your house. As long as your plant isn’t root-bound or unhealthy, it will be fine.
What’s most important is that your plant has enough space, enough soil, and proper drainage. If your plant is potted in these conditions, it will be happy!