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When to Repot a Plant: 6 Signs to Look For

Wondering when to repot a plant? An expert shared six signs to look out for. Here's everything you need to know.

Written by
Rachel Liu

We’ve all been there. You bought your new plant home and gave it an adorable name. In the beginning, it grew furiously. But after a while—even with a dedicated watering schedule and constant positive affirmations—it's stopped growing. Well, friends, that's when to repot a plant.

You’ve probably heard of repotting—aka changing a plant’s soil or potting mix in order to give it new nutrients. Or, sizing up the pot size. But what if it’s not the right season? What if you just need to be patient and give it some time? What if you accidentally kill it?

Have no fear. Nkhensani, the plant expert behind @hermerakai, recently shared her advice on exactly when to repot a plant.

"Most of us are scared to repot our green girls. Firstly, because we have no idea when to repot. And secondly, because we're scared we're gonna kill our plants," she says. "The most important thing is to know what to look out for before repotting so your plant can flourish in its new home."

Here are Nkhensani's top six signs that will tell you when to repot a plant

When to Repot a Plant: 6 Signs to Look For

1. Your Plant Has Roots Everywhere

Nkhensani says if your plant is root-bound—aka grown into the drainage holes or has roots coming from the top—that’s not a good sign. Your plant may not be Virginia Woolf, but even it needs a room of one’s own. (Sorry, had to.)

2. Your Plant Is Wilting

Unless you’re over-watering or under-watering your plant—or it’s not getting enough sun—Nkhensani says your plant shouldn't be wilting. If its leaves are turning yellow, get it some new soil and watch it start to thrive again.

3. Your Plant Isn’t Growing

You're one of those plant parents that measures their plant’s growth the way parents draw pencil marks for their kids’ height. And that’s okay. It’s good to catch things early.

If your plant isn't showing new growth—or if its growth has slowed down in the active months (like spring and summer)—Nkhensani says it may be time to repot.

4. You Haven’t Repotted in 1 to 2 Years

Plants typically need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, depending on their growth patterns. The repotting itself is done in the early spring and summer, before they start sprouting like crazy during the growth season. So don’t be lazy, repot your daisy. Or, you know, pothos.

5. Your Soil Dries Too Fast

Another sign it's time to repot: If "the soil is drying out more quickly, so you have to water more frequently," says Nkhensani. This is also a sign that your plant isn't getting enough nutrients from its current situation. Be a good plant parent and replenish that pot. 

6. Your Plant Is Now Five Plants

As in, your plant is so overgrown it’s now about to topple over. In a day, it’ll become its own country. In five, it might even gain sentience. Now that you know when to repot, buy some potting mix and get (re)planting.