Cactus being repotted with its root structure exposed

How to Repot a Plant

How many times have you bought a cute new plant you just had to have only to have it shrivel up and die shortly after you found it the perfect place in your home? There is a lot to be said about proper plant care that involves sunlight and drafts and watering but one of the first things you usually need to do is give it a much bigger pot to live in. That’s because plants that are usually sold in stores have already outgrown their temporary containers and desperately want to stretch their roots and find new soil to draw food from that they haven’t already depleted. Luckily, this is the easiest part.

Repotting supplies: soil mix, plant pots, pot inserts, newspaper, plants to be repotted, small shovel
First, get yourself organized. Decide which plants you will be repotting and make sure you get pots and pot inserts (if your pot doesn’t have a draining hole at the bottom for the extra water to escape) that are large enough to provide more room for the roots of the plant. You will also need some potting mix, a small shovel, gloves, and newspaper to line the floor (yes, you will make a mess so I would suggest setting up outside if possible or somewhere cleanup will be easiest, such as a kitchen counter). You can get almost everything you need at a dollar store if you are on a budget, or you local gardening centre will sort you out. In this particular case, I was repotting some cacti, so I got a special cactus mix and thick gloves to protect myself from the needles (I couldn’t find my gardening gloves but a silicone oven mitt will do the trick nicely in a pinch).

Flower pot with a plastic insert
Once you’re ready, fill the new pot about 1/3 of the way with potting soil, pushing it a little to the sides so make a bit of crater in the middle. Gently lift out the plant from it’s current container (squeezing the sides a little helps loosen it) and break up the root structure a little with your fingers (don’t go too crazy here!). This tells the plant that there is damage that needs to be repaired, which helps the roots spread and, coincidentally, realize they’re no longer confined.

Cactus plant pulled out of its pot with the root structure exposed
Cactus being repotted, with the root slightly broken up

Insert the plant into its new pot and fill in all the empty spaces with fresh potting soil, making sure to get it around the sides of the plant and going all the way up to the base of the plant. Gently but firmly press down on the new soil around the base of the plant until the plant is secure. It shouldn’t be able to come out of its pot if you (gently) pull up on it (lift from the base of the plant). Top up the soil until it’s level with the base of the plant.

Packing the soil around the base of the cactus
Packing the soil around the base of the cactus

Water (don’t be a Scrooge but don’t try to drown it, either). Clean up your mess. Enjoy!

Freshly repotted plants



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