How to Repot your Indoor Plants

By: Lively Root
July 19, 2021
How to Repot your Indoor Plants
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You may be wondering when the best time is to repot your plant or even how to do it and what soil to use. We will  answer all those questions for you and show you some things to think about before repotting. Get your apron and gloves on and gather up your plant babies. We're repotting them today.

Reasons to Repot

If you just received your plant from Lively Root, we would caution you to wait at least six weeks for it to recover from the ride to your house. Your plant may be under some stress due to the weather or being in a box so let it rest, settle in before repotting it. 

After you've received your plant and have it awhile, you may want to get it out of the grower pot and into a decorative container. If it's not outgrown the grower pot, then you can choose something close to the same size as the existing pot but be sure to have adequate drainage

Overcrowded, Overgrown, Root-bound

Now, if you've had your plant several years and they're getting too crowded, overgrown, or root bound, that would be another reason to repot. 

But remember, some plants like to be root-bound; they push out more growth, so check our website under the plant you have for helpful info beforehand. What plants like to be root bound? Plants like peace lilies, spider plants, African violets, aloe, Ficus, Jade plant, snake plants, zz’s and boston ferns all like to have cozy roots. But if you see roots growing out the drain holes, it’s time to repot! 


And believe it or not, some plants need smaller pots if your evil twin planted them in too big of a pot. When this happens, the soil doesn't dry fast enough, and it can cause excessive moisture, in which your particular plant may not like as much. 

Too Big for Its Britches

If you have a plant "too big for its britches," meaning that they are so big they can't be tipped over and repotted,  you have to skim off the old soil on top very carefully not to harm the roots and replenish the topsoil. 

Right pot

Small, Medium, Large Pots

The first step in learning how to transplant a houseplant is to choose a container for your plant baby.  If your plant is full and gushing over with foliage and getting crowded, then bump up 2" wider in size. This plant is an African violet that was propagated last fall, and several starts are in this pot. We are going to show you how to divide this into three separate pots. In this case, we'll transplant with about the same size pot, so they'll all have more room to grow. 


We're using a terracotta pot for the African violets because they are breathable and allow the air to circulate the root system and dry out more quickly. They'll also absorb water as these like to be bottom watered. The leaves on African violets are fuzzy (see video) and don't like to get wet, or it will cause water spots. 

For these, a piece of window screen can be cut that you can get at your local hardware store to cover the bottom of the container. This helps the soil not to fall through the hole as easily and clog it up. 

If you're reusing decorative containers, be sure and wash them with hot sudsy water and let dry. I like to wipe mine out with a Clorox wipe to remove any lingering bacteria or fungus that could have been left behind on the old planting. 


Right Soil Mix

Planting with the correct type of soil is essential—some plants like different combinations. I like to find the appropriate mix for my indoor plants. Normally, I would use our Black Gold Potting mix for most of my plants but There are mixes for African violets, Orchids, Succulents, Cacti, and Palms. (insert pic: soil mixes.png) Some gardeners like to mix up their own, but I'm all for having someone else doing it for me, so I go for the premixed. For my African Violet, I'll use an especially formulated mix with lots of drainage materials that provide a lofty mix.

Time to Repot

When receiving the plant, do not repot immediately but wait at least six weeks or until the spring. If you repot too soon after receiving your new plant from Lively Root and it gets stressed, you'll lose your 30-day warranty, 


So be cautious when thinking about when and how to transplant a houseplant. Plants really need to get acclimated to their new living conditions. Remember, these plants are coming out of optimum conditions in a greenhouse. They're riding in a closed box for days and arrive in a new environment with perhaps different lighting conditions and temperatures. So, they will go through a reset period. You don't want to rustle their roots at this point until they are settled in and comfortable and make adjustments to their new environment. 

Once you've had it a while and spring rolls around, and provided you're repotting due to one of the reasons I listed earlier, it's time to replant! 

Tools to Have on Hand

Before starting, collect all your tools so the job is simpler. Here is what we recommend when preparing for how to transplant a houseplant:



Watering can

Proper Soil mix and any additives

potting tray (for making a mess)

Trowels and tools

Paint Brush (for cleaning up the leaves after)

Bucket (for water drainage)

Shallow bowl

Moss or colored rocks (optional)

Now, let's get started!!!

Repotting Your Plants

We recommend always watering your plants before  transplanting them the night before, so this one is fully hydrated and ready to move. 


These violets are starts  from last fall and they're needing more space to grow so we're going to transfer them into their own pots.We will demonstrate how to transplant one of them into it's own pot.   We're going to use some terrarium garden tools used for miniature gardens to help out with this task. 

Normally, you'll want to measure your existing container and get one 2" bigger pot in width for transplanting. If you go too big, the soil will dry slower, which is not helpful for some plants, and it could develop diseases and rot the roots. So we’ve chosen pretty small planters since these are still babies. 

We've traced the bottom and made a pattern and cut the screen out

 Place the screen in the bottom of the pot that you've cut to fit. 

Next, add  some potting mix to the bottom of the pot. You'll want to add enough, so the top of the soil is sitting below the container's lip so when you water, it doesn't spill over with soil and water and make a mess every time you water. This is especially true when looking at what plants like to be root bound and how to give them the space they need!

So you'll have to judge how much soil depth you'll need to build up under its roots. Since this one is a baby, it won't have a deep root system yet, so it will need to be built it up a bit more. 

Use a clean knife or garden trowel to wedge between the pot and the soil to loosen.

I'm dividing this one into sections, so I will separate each section and carefully lift it out of this pot into its new home. 

Usually, I would take a peek at its roots to make sure they're healthy and thriving especially when looking at how to repot root bound plants. If you see black or rotting roots, you've got a problem and will need to remove the rotting parts with a sterile knife or scissors and keep disinfecting your tools, so you don't spread infection to other parts of the plant. The roots look healthy on these starts.

Add more soil and backfill around the sides by tamping down. Fill up to the soil line but not over. Water thoroughly, leaving the soil damp but not soggy. 


If you're planting a plant with fuzzy leaves, a soft paint or makeup brush will come in handy to delicately brush off soil debris. African violets don't like water on their leaves, so showering it wouldn't be a good option. 


To water African violets, pour a bowl of water and let the pot soak up the water from below. But most indoor plants can water from above if the leaves of the plant aren't delicate or have special needs. 

As African violets grow, the older leaves may be removed as newer one’s form, leaving a bare stem closer to the soil. You can remove these longer stems and clip them off with some sterile pruners and propagate them later. 

Place a large, clear plastic baggie over the planter to help create humidity. The roots will re-establish quicker this way. 

Check the moisture level each week to ensure it has adequate water with your 3 in 1 water meter. After six weeks, remove the bag and set it in bright to medium indirect light. 

To add a decorator touch, you can add moss, decorative glass, or rock to the soil, whatever you like. 

We hope this helps you feel more comfortable with how to transplant your indoor plants into new containers to give them room to grow and thrive. 

If you’re needing soil and fertilizer products, the 3 in 1 meter mentioned or a new plant for your home or office space, fill your shopping cart with goodies. We have dozens of wonderful indoor plants, bulbs and landscape plants, and pet friendly plants for your fur babies. We also will help you along the way as you nurture your new plant with our continuing education and articles about how to care for your plants. Plus, we have online support so you can send in your plant care questions when you buy a plant from us. We offer free shipping and a 30-day guarantee from the purchase date to be healthy and arrive in good condition.