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Dr Green

Doctor, how do I repot my plants?

Dr Green

Words by Kelsey Lee Jones

Photos by Jaap Scheeren

Dear Doctor Green,

My roommate thinks we need to repot our plants. She might be right, but I have no idea how to do this and I’m afraid we’ll do something that could kill them. How do we know when our plants need repotting and what is the best way to do it?



Hello Jasper,

There are various reasons why plants should be repotted. Growth is one of them, the term for that process is potting up. When repotting, you just switch up the soil in your planter to keep your plant happy and healthy.

If your plants are showing any of these signs, it’s time to get to work:

  • The plant’s soil dries out quickly
  • The plant falls over frequently because it’s too big for its pot
  • Its roots are pushing out of the drainage hole
  • The plant is growing more slowly than usual

Start by gently removing the plant from its pot – if it doesn’t want to move, water thoroughly to loosen up the soil. Once your plant is out, check for dead roots and prune them. Slowly loosen the root ball with your fingers, removing any excess soil. If potting up, gently pull the roots apart so they will have room to grow in their new, bigger pot.

If you’re just repotting, throw out the old soil and clean your pot. Add a layer of fresh potting soil to the bottom of your pot and place your plant in the centre, making sure the top of the soil is inside the plant pot. Carefully add soil around the plant in layers, making sure no air pockets are left. Water your plant and place it in a shady area for about a week or so to give it some rest.

And finally, Jasper, make sure you mark your calendar for another potting party in about 18 months. Even if your plants aren’t showing any signs yet, it’s a good way to keep your plants happy.

Take care!


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