How to Repot Plants and Shake Off Old Dirt

Repotting plants is a simple task depending on the type of plant being repotted and its condition. Repot plants in the same type of soil they're used to unless the plant was potted using the wrong type of soil. A cactus or succulent requires a sandy, well-draining soil. If it is planted in a loamy, rich soil, it will likely die from root rot or other moisture-related problems.

Things You'll Need

  • Pot
  • Potting soil or other potting medium
  • Newspaper or plastic sheet
  • Gloves
  • Garden trowel
  • Scissors
  • Water


  1. Growth Habit

    • 1

      Select a new pot and potting soil suitable for the type of plant you're repotting. Cover your work area with newspapers or a plastic tarp. Hold the pot with the plant in it in one hand and gently pull the plant out of the pot with your other hand. Tapping the pot’s sides loosens the plant. Invert the pot and tap the bottom if the plant is root bound. Use a trowel or similar tool to loosen the soil and roots from the pot’s interior sides and pull the plant out of the pot.

    • 2

      Shake the plant gently over the newspaper or plastic sheet. Most of the dirt should fall away from the plant. Separate clinging soil from the plant and roots with your fingers. Wearing gloves protects your fingers and prevent soil stains. Leave some of the soil attached to the plant's roots unless the plant was planted in the wrong kind of soil. Fill the new pot about one-third full with the new potting soil. Place the plant in the center of the soil in the pot. Based on filling the pot to one-half inch lower than its rim, either add or remove soil as necessary situating the plant at the correct level. Fill the rest of the pot with new potting soil. Water the plant thoroughly and ensure that it drains properly.

    • 3

      Allow your transplanted plant to adjust to its new pot for a few days by keeping it out of direct sun. Check the plant for water after a day or two. Gently press the soil. If it’s dry to the touch, water the plant. Watch for wilting or yellowing leaves. The plant may droop for a few days until it gets used to its new pot and potting soil. Watch for yellowing or spotting on leaves. Yellowing leaves at the plant’s base indicate too much watering. Water the plant if its top leaves are yellowing or brown, Avoid fertilizing the plant until it is established in its new pot and shows signs of new growth.

Tips & Warnings

  • Most commercial potting soils contain adequate nutrients. There is no need to fertilize your plant immediately after transplanting it into new potting soil.
  • Orchids do not grow in soil. Use redwood or pine bark, or a commercial orchid-potting medium.
  • Select dry, sandy potting soil for succulents and cacti.
  • Transplant shock can damage plants. Transplanting an ailing plant may cause more harm.
  • Foul smelling pots or potting soil indicate rotting plant material and indicate overwatering.
  • Repotting a diseased plant may transfer soilborne fungi and other disease agentsto the new potting soil.
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  • Photo Credit Brand X Pictures/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

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