repotting house plants supplies needed


Repotting house plants is a necessary task to give them the best care possible.  And then when you’re done, it’s time to learn how to clean them too!

Now that Spring is in the air, it’s a great time to learn about repotting house plants!  I inherited a plant from my Mom that was bursting out of it’s pot, so I checked mine too.  Oh yes, there were two more that were ready to “size up” for the upcoming warm weather. 

So, as is my habit, I’m sharing my knowledge on the subject with one of my fave people… YOU!   Let’s get started, shall we?



repotting house plantsYour ficus is growing beautifully and looks gorgeous in its corner next to the patio door.

Problem is, it’s grown so much, the tree has dwarfed the current pot.  What to do?

Repotting into larger pots becomes necessary when plant roots start to grow through the drainage holes or become pot bound.  Or when the tree or plant clearly no longer can grow within the confined space of its container.

Your house plants might have yellowing leaves or experience a loss of vigor when they’re pot bound.  It might be your watering schedule, but it might also be root bound. Gently pull the plant out of the container to check the roots.

Another sign of being rootbound is when the water just runs out of the drainage hole without being absorbed.  In this situation, the roots have taken over the container and there isn’t enough soil to hold water.

Depending on the type of house plant you need to repot, you might want to divide them into several different pots.

Plants such as Dracaena Trifasciata or Snake Plant are easily separated into clumps that can be replanted.  I’ve gotten 5 “babies” from one plant before and gave them to all the neighbors!



Plants that are pot bound have roots that fill most of the container and have begun to circle the outer edges of the soil.  The roots have no where else to grow, therefore wind themselves around the pot’s bottom.


repotting a pot bound house plant

Now that’s not always a bad thing, as some house plants, such as Peace Lilies and Philodendrons actually love a cramped space.  These plants will bloom more and grow better when their roots are crowded.  Go figure!

But these plants are certainly the exception to the rule, and you should keep your houseplants from suffering that fate.  Check them when the seasons change, they’ll probably need repotting at least once a year.



When a plant is repotted into a larger container, the plant switches its focus from producing blooms to root and leaf production.  Eventually, all house plants, including one’s that like being pot bound, need to be repotted.  

NAN’S TIP:  When a “pot bound” loving plant is repotted, it will go through a transition period.  Don’t fret if it seems to go downhill immediately after repotting, it will rebound once it adjusts to its new space.


REPOTTING HOUSE PLANTS – Choose the Right Size Container

Start this process by measuring the plant’s current pot. 

The new container should be about 2 inches larger in diameter.  It’s important to choose the next size up, and don’t go too large.  Too much space can be just as bad for your house plants as too little. 

Let me give you an example.  Your Silver Pothos needs to size-up from its 4-inch pot.  And you’re dying to use the beautiful Italian pot you bought on vacation.

how to start a container garden

But when the Pothos is repotted into the 10-inch container, the roots are suddenly surrounded by a lot more soil.

And all that soil can hold a lot more water inside the pot.  Your plant’s roots can only absorb so much water and the rest just stays in the soil. 

The extra water near the roots keeps the roots from getting the oxygen they need, and that’s exactly how root rot sets in.



When it’s time for repotting house plants that have outgrown their present containers, here’s how to do it correctly:

  • Turn the plant upside down, supporting it by putting your fingers over the soil surface
  • With your other hand, gently squeeze the plastic container to loosen the roots and soil from pot walls
  • Keeping the plant inverted, slowly pull the pot away from the plant, preferably, without disturbing the roots
  • If the roots are pot bound, loosen them before planting in new container
  • When repotting a new house plant, try to leave the roots undisturbed
  • Choose quality soil-less potting mix that consists of sphagnum moss and other nutritious elements
  • I like to mix in some perlite to help with the soil’s water retention
  • Use specialty potting mediums for plants such as orchids and succulents
  • Cover bottom of pot with river rocks or broken pot shards to keep soil inside pot
  • Take care to make sure water can flow out bottom of pot
  • Place enough soil in the new container so that the plant is resting on the soil.  Make sure the existing root ball’s surface is about 1/2 to one inch below the new container’s rim 
  • Top with a decorate covering if desired.  Pea gravel, river rock and decorative moss make lovely soil coverings that really give your pot a professionally planted look
  • Water your newly potted house plant well and give it a nice home with the right lighting in your house




As warmer weather approaches many of us are digging out previously used plant containers for use again this gardening season.

No matter what your pot is made of, mineral deposits and other debris can cause problems for your plants. It’s important to clean and disinfect old pots each time they’re used.  The remnants from last season may harbor disease organisms and that can spell trouble for your plants. 

repotting house plants

Mineral salts can be both unsightly and damaging to plants, as they leach through clay pots forming a white film.  While these rings are unsightly, but they can also dehydrate plants that are inside the pot. 

It’s so much healthier for your plants to have a clean and sterile home in which to live and grow.



  • Soak your pots in a solution containing one part household bleach to 9 parts water for a minimum of 10 minutes
  • Then place the pots in a mild dish detergent and water solution
  • Clean clay pots with steel wool or a wire-bristle brush to remove mineral deposits and other debris
  • If mineral deposits remain, use a knife to scrape them off
  • Rinse pots thoroughly and soak them in a bucket of clean water until you are ready to use them
  • Dry clay pots can wick moisture away from the potting medium dehydrating newly potted plants
  • Plastic pots are easier to clean requiring only a scouring pad
  • Mineral salts remaining can be scraped away with a knife.
  • Smooth any rough edges with steel wool. Rinse the pot and it is ready for reuse


Proper cleaning and disinfecting of pots requires just a minimum amount of effort, yet can mean the difference between the success or failure of containerized plants. Take those extra few minutes to assure success.

Repotting house plants isn’t a hard job. It just demands a bit of knowledge to do right, and you’re good to go!



First, let’s talk about the WHY we should clean our houseplants…

When you get home from the nursery with a gorgeous selection of house plants, invariably they’ve got gunk on them.repotting house plants Who wants that much nature inside?

But seriously, there are several reasons why it’s important to clean your houseplants:

  • As I mentioned, your plants may come home looking dingy, and that’s not fabulous, is it? Most of this is due to pesticide spraying and hard water usage. Hard water is very high in minerals, and you know how that works on your glassware!  It can cause those same white spots on your plants too.
  • The dust and dirt that builds up on the leaves can make it tough for your house plants to respire. They need to breathe, especially at night when photosynthesis has ceased.
  • It’s also important to clean off any residue from past pest infestations. Sucking insects like aphids and mealybugs leave behind a sticky secretion that you’ll want to get rid of.  Take special care to make sure you get rid of any insect eggs lingering past the active infestation. (use an old cloth or disposable towel and toss it afterwards in case any of the eggs have survived)
  • And last, but not least, I love it when my house plants are gleaming! I make them happy by keeping them clean, and they make me very happy in return.



how to clean house plantsIt’s not a very good idea to use bottled plant cleaners, as they tend to clog the leaves, making it difficult to respire properly.

In turn, your house plants will suffer… Oh, their leaves will be really shiny, but the plant will be dying from the inside!

Here’s my natural formula for cleaning house plants, made from just a few household ingredients that we all have in our kitchens.

  • 8 Cups Water
  • 2/3 Cup White Vinegar
  • 5-8 Drops Liquid Dish Soap (depending on the hardness of your water)
  • 1 tsp. Extra Virgin Olive Oil


Combine all the ingredients and pour into a clean container.  Dispense into a SPRAY BOTTLE to use when cleaning your plants.



  • If there’s just a light build-up of dust, you can just give the plant a quick hit with your duster. Or use a softhow to clean a house plant damp cloth to wipe the leaves.
  • Small house plants can be cleaned right inside the kitchen sink. Give them a light, but thorough spraying, and let them sit for 15-20 minutes to let them drip. Don’t get too enthusiastic with your spraying, or you’ll have potting mix flying everywhere!
  • For larger plants, I like to take them outdoors to give them a good spraying. Since I live in the mountains, there are many months I can’t do that.  Guess what, your shower stall or bathtub will do the trick!
  • For large plants with lots of small leaves like a Ficus tree, I’ll give them a thorough spraying and let them drip dry in the shower.
  • Large-leaf plants like my tropical plants get their leaves wiped down with a soft cloth dampened with my plant cleaning formula.



While you get brownie points for wanting your house plants to be clean and healthy, there are a few Don’ts you need to know first.

how to clean a house plant

  • Don’t place your house plants in direct sun to dry after cleaning, as they’re more likely to burn.
  • If a house plant has fuzzy leaves, like a violet, don’t spray them. Stick to keeping them clean with frequent dustings.
  • As I mentioned earlier, plants need to respire at night after photosynthesis is finished for the day. Don’t bother them in the evening for a cleaning, they need their rest too!



That really depends on where you live, your lifestyle, and most of all, your selection of house plants.  

Honestly, my rule of thumb is to clean them when I notice they’re getting dingy.  In the Summer season when our windows are thrown open to let the breeze in, they need it a bit more often.

As a matter of course, they’re always given a thorough cleaning during my Spring Cleaning Blitz. And I give them some special attention just before the Fall/Winter holidays hit.



Hey, if you’re like me, you enjoy a lovely “kitchen garden” filled with pots of herbs growing nearby.   Now that you’re done repotting house plants, and you’ve got your gardening gloves on…

growing herbs in pots

You’ll want to read this “tell-all” post and get your herbs growing in their pots as soon as possible!

CLICK HERE TO READ THE POST:  Growing A Kitchen Herb Garden in Pots + Herbal Printable Garden Markers

I also want to share a little something I’ve created for my IFAFL Subscribers to give their kitchen gardens some Lifestyle Diva flair!  Check out these adorable “chalk board” garden markers!


growing a kitchen herb garden in pots


Why not join in on the fun!

DIY herbal printable garden markers suppliesFill out the form below and I’ll send you a copy as a thank you for joining the IFAFL Email Subscriber List.

As a Ingredients For A Fabulous Life Subscriber, you’ll also get instant access to the IFAFL Resource Library and receive our weekly emails. 

What are you waiting for?  You don’t want to miss out on anything fabulous, do you? 

There’s always something fabulous happening here at Ingredients For A Fabulous Life, don’t you want to stay in the loop?  

And while you’re at it, come join the gang in our Facebook group and get in on the gabfest at, The Fab Life!  That’s where we show off our triumphs and share our pursuit of “the good life” with each other all week long.  





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