How to Repot a Plant in 5 Easy Steps (and Help It Thrive)

Published January 25, 2021
Woman repotting plant

Learning how to repot a plant is simple when you follow instructions with easy steps. Repotting plants is part of keeping them healthy to help them thrive.

Items Needed for Repotting Plants

Before you set about removing a plant from its pot, you need to gather a few supplies and tools. Being prepared will make the step-by-step process easy and quick. Gather your supplies and tools:

  • Garden knife: If the plant you're repotting a large plant with strong, woody roots, you may need a knife to cut through them.
  • Garden trimming scissors: You may need to trim overgrown roots before repotting.
  • Garden trowel: This mini shovel is a valuable gardening tool for adding dirt, digging holes, or removing plants.
  • Gardening gloves: A pair of gardening gloves makes cleanup easy and protects your nails.
  • New flowerpot: Choose a flowerpot or other container that is 2"-3" larger in diameter or width/length and has drainage holes.
  • Potting soil mix: New fresh soil with nutrients will boost your plant's health and growth.
  • Watering can with water: A water can always makes watering plants a splash free zone.

5 Easy Steps for How to Repot a Plant

Once you have all the supplies collected, don your gardening gloves. Some gardeners place a coffee maker filter in the bottom of the new pot to prevent the soil from spilling out through the drainage holes. This is purely optional, as you will only lose a tiny bit of soil through the drainage holes. Once your plant is repotted, you'll place it in the saucer or tray, and no more soil will escape through the drainage holes.

Step 1: Fill New Pot With Potting Soil

You will use the garden trowel to place a layer of potting soil mix in the bottom of the new pot. Depending on the height of the old pot, you may only need a layer of about 4"-6" thick. This will serve as a buffer zone between the root system and the pot.

Fill pot with potting soil

Step 2: Remove Plant From Pot

Gently tap the plant pot with the trowel to loosen it from the pot. Grasp the base of plant by the stems, being careful not to damage the plant. Turn the pot sideways and slide the plant out. If the plant doesn't come out easily, you can position the stems between your fingers and turn the pot upside down so the plant eases out to rest in the palm of your hand.

Woman removing plant from flowerpot

Step 3: Loosen Plant Roots

You need to loosen the plant roots with your hands. If the root system is matted from being rootbound, you may need to use scissors to trim them or the knife to make vertical cuts to free up the trapped roots and then trim the excess with your scissors.

Repotting rootbound aloe vera plant.

Step 4: Place Plant and Potting Soil Mix in Pot

It's time to set your plant on top of the new soil layer. Make sure you center the plant in the pot. Using the garden trowel, spoon in the new potting soil around the plant. Gently tamp down the soil around the plant. Leave about 1" between the soil level and the pot rim.

Putting soil around plant.

Step 5: Place Pot on Saucer and Water Plant

Set the newly potted plant in the pot saucer. Using the watering can, thoroughly water the plant. Allow the plant to rest and adjust to its new home.

Woman using a watering can for plants

How to Repot a Plant With Little Effort

It's easy to repot a plant in 5 easy steps when you understand the repotting process. You can apply these steps to most plants that need repotting.

How to Repot a Plant in 5 Easy Steps (and Help It Thrive)