Weekend Projects

One Thing You Should Do (Before Spring Ends) for Happy, Healthy Houseplants

updated Jun 6, 2019
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Credit: Lauren Kolyn

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Houseplants are the most silent and altruistic members of our households. They beautify our living spaces and offer us health and happiness in return for simply keeping them alive.

Keeping them alive, of course, is easier said than done. But once you’ve gotten the hang of watering and fertilizing on occasion, the next step in plant parent prowess is repotting your plants each spring.

Most plants’ growing season is summer time, so repotting them in spring, before they begin intensive growth, is key to their overall success. To get started, this weekend we’re going to choose one of our plants to repot.

Credit: Amelia Lawrence/Apartment Therapy

This weekend: Repot one of your plants.

In order to choose which plant to repot, check on each plant and look for these signs that it might be time:

  • Roots showing above the top of the soil.
  • Roots protruding through the drain hole.
  • Soil dries out quickly after you water.
  • Growth has stalled.
  • Salt or mineral buildup on the soil or planter’s surface.
  • Your plant is top-heavy or is three times the height of the pot.

Even if none of these signs is present and even if your plant doesn’t need a bigger pot, shaking out some of the old soil and filling the pot with new soil gives plants a nice nutrient boost before they begin their summer growth spurts.

What You Need to Repot Your Plants

Gather the following supplies before you repot: 

  • Potting soil. An all-purpose potting soil is suitable for most houseplants.
  • A bigger pot, if necessary, about two inches in diameter bigger than the previous pot. Choose one with a drainage hole that’s made of a porous material. If you like the look of a non-porous planter or one without a drainage hole, use it as an outer container or drill a hole in the bottom yourself. 
  • Gardening gloves. 

Steps for Repotting Your Plant

Repotting your plant is easy, but use a delicate touch to minimize shock.

  1. Remove your plant from the pot. Sometimes it’s easier to do this if you water the plant a bit first in order to make the soil more malleable. Hold the plant by the base and turn the pot over to shake the plant out from its pot.
  2. Loosen the root ball. With the plant out and still in your hand, gently knead the roots with your other hand to loosen them from their existing soil and prime them to spread out in their new pot.
  3. Pour fresh soil into the new pot. Pour a layer of new dirt on the bottom of the pot.
  4. Put the plant in the pot. You want the base of your plant to rest half an inch below the pot’s rim.
  5. Fill in the soil. Pour new soil around the plant and over any exposed roots. Tamp it down with your hands but don’t make the soil too compact.
  6. Enjoy your happy plant! With new room to put forth roots and a fresh supply of nutrients from new soil, your plant will flourish.

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You can catch up with weekend projects right here. Share your progress with us and others by posting updates and photos on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #atweekendproject.

Remember: This is about improvement, not perfection. Each week you can either choose to work on the assignment we’ve sent you, or tackle another project you’ve been meaning to get to. It’s also completely okay to skip a weekend if you’re busy or not feeling the assignment