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Congratulations, you were smart enough to buy a houseplant during the winter sales at your local nursery. Oh, you weren’t? Well, you still have time – lots of local nurseries clear their stock this time of year.

Let’s say you did decide to welcome a new plant into your home. Now what? Most people’s first instinct is to repot the plant immediately.

That’s ok to do if the plant is obviously rootbound, or in a teeny tiny pot. Or if you have the time on your hands. But you shouldn’t have to hurry.

Consider this little guy:

There are actually two succulents in the container, an Aeonium and what I think may be a Sedeveria, a cross between Sedum and Echeveria. Because succulents hold water in their leaves, and usually have a shallow root system, they can survive just fine in a small pot for a few weeks or months.

I think some people buy a few plants at a time, then get overwhelmed trying to transplant them all at once. Instead of setting yourself up for failure like that, take your time. Transplant when you have the free time – don’t do it because you think the plant is in desperate need. Some plants actually like being rootbound. As long as you make sure they’re watered, they’ll be fine.

Indoor gardening should be relaxing, not stressful.

I recently got an Aeonium arborescens from Jericho Nursery for a dollar:

She was a little beat up – lots of crunchy leaves, as if she’d been thirsty. The reason I decided to transplant her was because I could tell she would be an enthusiast grower. If she could get that big in such a small container, imagine how she’d grow if she could stretch her “legs” a little.

In my years working with plants, I’ve found that a lot of people believe that repotting a plant is the solution to anything that’s wrong with the plant. That’s not true. The main reason to transplant a houseplant into a bigger container is to get the plant to grow bigger. But what if you have a Ficus tree and it’s already in a huge pot and hitting the ceiling? You don’t want it to get bigger. Instead of repotting it, you replenish its soil over time.

Everyone has their own methods of transplanting houseplants. I’ve more or less said all of this before in previous posts. But there may be people out there who are nervous to repot, so I’m going to walk you through it with the Aeonium, which I’m calling Annie.

How To Transplant a Succulent Houseplant

First, remove the current container:

Then you want to tickle the roots and open up that compacted soil:

By tickling the roots, I mean spread them out a little, gently, like you’re stretching their “legs” for them.

You want to pick a container that’s a little bigger than the plant’s former one, but don’t jump to a giant one.

For succulents, I recommend using a mixture of high-quality potting soil and perlite or vermiculite. For Annie, I used FoxFarm and perlite in a 6″ container:

Fill the container about 3/4 of the way full, plop the plant on top, then add more of the potting mixture, pressing it down to stabilize the plant.

You can dip the roots in a root stimulator before you plant, but I almost always forget to do that.

Some people say don’t water right away after repotting the plant, but I do. I like to drench the soil, actually.

That’s all there is to it – transplanting houseplants is pretty easy. Granted, Annie doesn’t have thorns, which makes the process a lot more pleasant.

Additional notes on transplanting: Moving a plant to a different container is stressful for the plant. So I try to do it during times of the year when the plant is chillin’. Fall and winter are good. Since I’m in the southwest, I can get away with transplanting plants outside in January. Obviously, if it’s freezing where you live, don’t take it outside to repot it, do that indoors. Also, some plants are extremely susceptible to heat. Dracaenas, (Corn plants, Janet Craigs, Dragon trees, Warneckiis) for example, will melt if you take them outdoors in the summer, and it only takes a few minutes in the sun.

I also don’t like to transplant a plant while it’s blooming or trying to bloom. I figure if it’s spending all that energy throwing up blooms, I should leave it alone. But I could be wrong – does anyone have an opinion on that?

Let me know if you have any questions about how or when to repot a plant.

I’ll be back manana with a brand new edition of Ask the Experts. You still have time to guess last week’s plant puzzler, until midnight MST time tonight, that’s 2am EST. If you look at Saturday’s post, you’ll find a hint to the puzzler.


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About Me

Hi! My name is Liza. Welcome to my blog and thanks for visiting! I'm a Midwestern gal now living in Arizona, after many years of living in and owning a plant care business in New Mexico.

Plants are living, breathing creatures, and if they're indoor plants, they are 100% dependent on human care. They cannot water themselves.

I can beautify your home, office, or patio with plants and flowers. I have 13 years of experience growing plants, and friendships.

Please let me know if you have questions or if you would like help with your plants or garden. You can reach me at lizatheplantlady (at) gmail (dot) com or follow me on Twitter, Lizawheeler7.

All photos are mine unless otherwise noted. All content is also entirely my hard work. If you'd like to use any content or photos, all you have to do is ask. If you take without asking, you are a thief. And thieves suck. So don't suck. We have a deal? Good.