Hey Plant Lovers! Whether you like it or not, eventually, you'll need to pot up your plant babies as they grow. It can be pretty intimidating, but you've totally got this! Here are a few basics to get you started, and be sure to check out our Events page if you're in the Riverside area—we hold plant care and craft classes regularly at our store and potting is one of our standards!
Really any plant you want to repot (change to a similar size pot for aesthetic reasons or just to refresh the soil) or pot up (literally potting up or changing to a larger pot because it's root bound or overgrowing its current pot).
If you're just repotting, you can use approximately the same size pot; for potting up, you’ll need a pot 1-2” larger if your original pot is 12” or smaller, and 3-4” larger if your pot is 12”+. We also highly recommend using a pot with a drainage hole—unless you want to make your watering routine way harder than you need to!
The Potting Mix
Use a high quality, well draining potting mix. Don't use actual soil, as it can contain insects, disease, spores, etc, and compacts significantly when potted, impeding plant growth.
A spoon, trowel, butter knife, chopstic, or just fingers all work great! This isn't a farm so you won't need anything too serious.
Mixing bowl for Potting Mix
Scissors and knife
1. Water Your Plant
Water the plant you’re planning to pot 1-2 days prior, to loosen and hydrate the roots, plus make it easier to handle.
2. Prep the Potting Mix
In your mixing bowl, add water to your potting mix until all of it is just moist—allow excess water to drain if you’ve added too much. Dry potting mix is slightly hydrophobic (fancy way of saying it repels water), so you'll want to really mix it well to make sure it's actually all wet. This is honestly our favorite part—who doesn't love playing with mud? Plus, it smells lovely.
3. Prep the Pot
Place a layer of the prepped potting mix in the pot, enough so your plant won't be too low below the top of the pot when you're done. You can put your still-potted plant in the new pot to measure about how much is needed, or just eyeball it!
4. Prep the Plant
Loosen the plant gently from its current home with a knife or chopstick. Some roots seem to stick to pots way more than others, while some will slip right out without effort. Turn the pot upside down with one hand while using the other hand to gently hold the stem and keep the potting mix from falling out. Slowly shake the plant free, and then softly knock off about 1/3 of the potting mix, loosening the roots in the process. If the plant is severely rootbound, you can slice off the bottom and/or side mass of roots.
5. Planting Time!
Hurray! Place the plant gently in the new pot, adding potting mix as necessary to the base layer to make sure the top of the root system won't be too far below the top of the pot. Add the moist potting mix to the sides and tamp down carefully. You want enough potting mix that the root system will be supported, but not so much that it's dense and compacted and won't allow for root growth.
6. Final Details
Water slowly with tepid water and allow to drain well. Keep it away from too much light while so it has time to recover from the shock of potting.
Tips and Post Potting Care:
Let newly purchased plants adjust to their new home for a few weeks before repotting unless they’re severely rootbound. Always use a pot with a drainage hole—it’s just not worth the headache trying to water perfectly when it can’t drain, and why make your life harder? Terracotta pots are water permeable; soak them well before repotting so they don’t pull the water from the potting mix while the plant is acclimating and still in shock. Don't use fertilizer on your newly potted plant—the cut and broken roots can burn easily. Keep the soil moist, but don't let it get soggy.
And that's it! You've potted a plant! That wasn't so bad, was it? If you still have questions, feel free to email us! And you can always download our Potting 101 worksheet if you'd like a little more help!