4 Signs Your Plant Is Begging for a Bigger Pot

Photo: Getty Images / Catherine Falls Commercial
One of the best parts of getting a new plant is bringing it home and getting it into a pretty new pot. Once the plant is out of the plastic grow pot and able to settle into a new pot you can truly appreciate its beauty. After that initial repotting, how do you know when to move the plant to a bigger pot? There are a few signs to look out for.

"Just kind of listen to your plant," says Alfred Palomares, vice president of merchandising at 1-800-Flowers. "If you're watching your plant, they're always going to tell you what they need." Below, you'll find what you should be keeping an eye out for.

How to know if your plant is telling it needs a bigger pot

1. The roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot

If your plant is in a container with a drainage hole, you may notice that the roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot.

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"If it's been there for quite some time you want to see if those roots are starting to grow out of the bottom of the container. That is going to be your number one sign that it is time for it to be transferred because it is looking for additional soil and nutrition there," says Palomares.

2. A rootball is forming

"A lot of times if you could easily pick up your plant out of that pot and you start to see their roots growing like in a circular fashion towards the bottom, that means they're out of space," says Palomares. "That's when you're going to get that rootball." When this happens, he says you might also notice that the soil is shifting in the pot as the roots begin to push the plant up and out of the container.

Before repotting, Palomares says to break up the clump of roots.

"If you are moving into a new container because you think the roots have overgrown, you also want to make sure that you are loosening up that root system. You don't just want to put it directly into the container you want to manipulate those roots, to make sure that you're loosening them up," says Palomares. "In some cases, you can even prune back some of those roots, particularly if you think that you'd have more of a root ball where those roots have been kind of grown around in that circle. You really want to cut that back so that you can let the roots more easily introduce themselves into the new soil, and that they can sort of then spread out again and really get that nutrition."

3. It needs more water than usual

"If one of your plants only calls for it to be watered once a week and now you notice that you're having to water twice a week because the waters is running out so quickly, you know it could be that but your root system there has already overdeveloped and it's time to have a bigger pot," says Palomares. Once it's in a bigger pot, there will be more soil to retain the water you're giving your plant.

4. It's not maturing as much as it should

A plant can't grow if it doesn't have room. "You want to check to see how it's growing," says Palomares. "If you haven't really seen it mature and grow as expected or what you would be used to, it could be that it's already filled out its space."

How to repot your plant

When selecting a new pot, you don't want a pot that's too big, as Palomares says that can lead to overwatering.

"A typical houseplant that's really more of a small and medium plant, you want to make sure that you're picking a container that's about two to three inches bigger in size and diameter than what you have currently," he says. "And then if you have a larger more established floor plant, then you probably want something that's to be more around six inches larger in diameter to accommodate the new home for your plant and for the root system."

Additionally, make sure you're adding the right type of soil for your plant.

"You really want to also make sure that you have the proper soil and nutrition for that plant," says Palomares. "You want to make sure then that you are paying attention to the mix that you have and whether or not it already has fertilizer and plant food in there...you don't want to overfeed your plant by then putting in additional fertilizer, because that could end up negatively impacting your plant."

Learn more about how to repot a plant:

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