Project Guide

How to Repot a Plant

Select a New Pot

Choose the best fit by selecting a pot that’s 1 to 2 inches larger than the existing one. Be sure the pot has a drainage hole on the bottom.

Give the Plant a Tug

Gently tilt the houseplant, grasp it near the base and give it a tug to remove it from its old container. If the plant won’t budge, water it thoroughly and then try pulling it out. 

Scrape off Old Soil

Remove old, tired soil by lightly scraping with a knife.

Make Cuts

At this point, you’ll want to make a few tiny cuts in the bottom of the root system to give your plant breathing room. The cuts can be made with a serrated knife or garden scissors. If the roots give easily, just pull them apart with your hands. Some houseplants, such as sansevieria (snake plant) and echeveria, can also be divided. Just look for a natural split and divide them and repot.

Select Potting Mix

Choose a potting mix that best suits your houseplant. For most plants, regular potting soil does the trick. With finicky plants you might try special potting mix, including varieties for orchids, succulents, African violets and palms.

Bring On the New

Place a used dryer sheet over the drainage hole(s) and add a few scoops of fresh potting soil before placing the plant inside. Continue adding soil until just below the rim of the container.

Water Thoroughly

Using a watering can, give your plant a good soaking in its new home.

Avoid Direct Sun

After repotting your houseplant, avoid exposing it to direct sun for several weeks until the roots take hold.

Still Unsure If Your Plants Need Repotting?

As a guideline, if your houseplants show any of the below symptoms, grab a pair of gardening gloves, your soil scoop and hand trowel, then dig in.


  • Tightly coiled roots protruding out of the bottom of the pot.
  • Dry soil and lack of moisture retention; water drains out quickly. 
  • A top-heavy plant that leans over.
  • Drooping and sagging leaves that easily brown or just fall off.

For other tips, see our story on reviving houseplants.