Why Is Spring The Best Time to Up-Pot Houseplants?

by | Mar 30, 2021 | 3 comments

Spring Is here! Finally! It is obvious outside as the crocus, daffodils, tulips, and other flowers are appearing. But things are happening inside, too; our houseplants are waking up and sending out new growth. It’s such a wonderful time of year! Your plants may need to move to a different pot size. This is the best time. Why is spring the best time to up-pot houseplants?

Dormancy

In the late fall, here in the northern part of the United States where I live, the days get shorter and the nights longer. This isn’t the most ideal time to up-pot a plant. Our houseplants are growing but the rate has slowed and they enter a semi-dormant period. This is an adaptation plants have in response to shorter hours of light.

Shorter Days 

They aren’t photosynthesizing as long as there is shorter time to gather light. Our watering practices will change as well as our fertilization schedules. I stop fertilizing in the wintertime. In February and March, our plants begin to receive more light as the days lengthen and they send out new growth. Fertilization can begin again at that time.

watering can rose
The watering can rose (showerhead) actually works great

Signs of growth

We see the new leaves appearing and there is also new growth happening in the potting medium that we can’t see. If a plant is growing new leaves, it needs more roots to help sustain the new growth. The plant will need more water and nutrients and new roots will help supply that. That’s why spring is the best time of the year to repot or up-pot your plants if necessary. Always check the root ball to see if the plant is rootbound. You may not need to do anything to your plant if it is a newer plant.

Other signs

There may be other signs that your plant needs to be up-potted (moved into a larger container). It may need water more than usual, wilting only a few days after watering. It may be top-heavy and need at the very least, a heavier pot, not a larger pot. Again, check the root system first.

Root bound plant
Roots circling the saucer outside the pot

Rootbound plants

The rootbound plant below is one I’m using as an example. (I hope I’m not allowing my plants to get to this point of being rootbound. This was an annual plant at our garden center at the end of the season.) This container plant has almost 1/2 of its soil gone because of the large root system. What should you do? For this rootbound plant, I used a knife to cut the bottom roots off. I then cut slits into the sides of the root ball to encourage new feeder roots. Try to untangle or unwind the roots that are circling the root ball.

Repotting a rootbound plant

The pictures below are of an asparagus fern. Those along with spider plants may have roots so large they push the plant out of the pot. You may find the plastic pot distorted and needs cut off to repot the plant.

asparagus fern
Up-potted asparagus fern

Supplies

The supplies needed for up-potting include a good quality potting medium , and a new larger size container, and I like to use a piece of screen to cover the drainage hole. Have a tag and a pencil available to record the name of the plant and the date repotted.

Pot Size

Only go up one size at a time unless your plant is extremely rootbound and then you can go up two sizes. It depends on the type of plant and its growth rate so research your plant first. You up-pot another size later, but going too large can cause root rot, and you may lose your plant.

Now you know why spring is the time to up-pot your plants. You can continue to repot anytime throughout the growing season. Check your plants’ roots and see if they are in need of a new, roomier home.

Have a great week, plant friends!

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3 Comments

  1. Joey Williams

    The best time to repot a plant is in the spring so that actively growing roots will have enough time to grow into newly added potting mix. There are several signs that houseplants can exhibit when they are pot-bound. First check the frequency you are watering the houseplant. Denver Arborist

    Reply
  2. Sarah

    Where do you purchase your plants? I have been using this site orderfoy.com which delivers to me and makes the whole process simple. The prices are quite affordable and given they are delivered to me, I like the convenience. From my experience the plants have arrived in great condition and have lasted several months now (even after I purchased some in the winter). I’ve purchase from Home Depot before but, the plants seem to die in 30 days.

    Reply
    • Lisa Steinkopf

      Hi Sarah, I usually buy my plants at a local garden center. We have so many to choose from here in SE Michigan. If you have found a place that works for you, that is perfect!
      Lisa

      Reply

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