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Repotting plants
Repotting plants
Video: Repotting plants
Video: The Best Repotting Method, Hands-Down! 2023, February

At some point, with every plant - be it a house plant or a container plant - the soil is exhausted and the old pot too small. Then it's time to repot the plant. We explain what you need for this and how to do it correctly here.

Repotting plants is one of the recurring tasks in the home and garden. The best time to do this is in spring, when the plant is already sprouting. Young plants in particular have enormous growth and regularly need a larger pot. Older plants usually take a little longer to root through the planter. With them, too, the earth is drained over time and should therefore be renewed every three to four years.

If you are unsure whether your plant should be repotted, a look at the root ball is often enough. If this is completely rooted, you have already waited a little too long. But even if lime deposits crust over the surface or the roots are already meandering out of the drain hole, it must be repotted as soon as possible.

Wurzelballen überprüfen
Wurzelballen überprüfen

A look at the root ball is enough to decide whether the plant needs to be repotted.

Photo: MSG / Martin Staffler

Which pot?

Plants thrive best in containers that are only slightly larger than their root ball. When repotting, always choose the next largest pot size. You can tell the optimal size of a pot by the fact that there is a gap of about three to four centimeters between the pot and the root ball.

When choosing the pot, you can choose between clay or plastic pots. If you choose a clay pot, you have to water a little more often, on the other hand, plants in clay pots do not wet as quickly and are also more stable. Plastic pots, on the other hand, are easier to handle when cleaning and keep moisture longer. With large plants, however, they threaten to tip over quickly.

What earth?

The earth should not be saved, because it has to do a lot. On the one hand, it stores water and nutrients, on the other hand, it should keep harmful substances such as lime and salts away from the plants. Therefore, choose a high-quality substrate that is loose and crumbly. Good soil can be recognized by the price. But it is worth investing in the more expensive substrate. Because only with the right substrate can the plant develop healthily.

For the sake of the environment, you should also choose peat-free soil. Peat is the most important part of bogs. However, since around two and a half million cubic meters of peat end up in private households in Germany every year, peatlands are now one of the most endangered habitats. In peat-free mixtures, the peat is replaced by bark humus, compost, coconut and wood fibers. Before buying, be sure to read the information on the packaging, because even peat-poor soil often consists of 80 percent peat. The companies Neudorff, Palaterra or Proflora only produce peat-free earth.

How to repot

Carefully pull the plant out of the pot and shake the soil off the root ball as far as possible. You should cover the drain hole of the new pot with a shard of clay to prevent it from clogging and water collecting in the bottom of the vessel. Waterlogging quickly leads to the shrinking of tub plants. A layer of expanded clay on top ensures the correct drainage. Then some fresh soil is poured in and the plant can be embedded so that the upper part of the root ball is just below the edge of the pot. If necessary, push the pot a little on the table surface so that any cavities that may still exist are filled. Large spaces must be filled by hand. Press the plant carefully and water it with a fine spray. After that, look for a suitable location for the plant. Most container plants prefer a bright and sheltered place. You should pause fertilizing for the first six to eight weeks after repotting.


Repotting does not have to be done every year for older plants. However, after three to four years at the latest, the soil must be replaced to maintain the vitality of the plant.

Photo: iStock / -lvinst-

Tip: You can also use used pots when repotting. But then it is important to clean the pot thoroughly with hot water and a brush beforehand. Otherwise, any germs and fungi that are present may be transferred to the new plant. But do not use chemical cleaning agents!

Special soils for cacti, orchids and azaleas

Cacti, orchids and azaleas need special soil mixtures. The mineral soils in the natural locations of cacti are rich in potassium and low in nitrogen. Special soils for cacti take this composition into account and are also characterized by a high proportion of sand, which makes the substrate particularly water-permeable. Orchid soil has to be one thing above all: airy. That is why orchid soil does not consist of soil in the actual sense, but rather a mixture of pieces of bark, coconut fibers and charcoal. Azalea is mainly suitable for moor bed plants such as azaleas, but it is also highly recommended for cultivating hydrangeas and camellias in pots. It is characterized above all by a low pH.

Repot plants in hydroponic

Hydroponic plants are particularly easy to handle. But here, too, the roots can fill the pot completely after a while, so that repotting is necessary. To do this, simply remove the old granules and lift the plant out. Moisten the new granulate slightly in the bottom of the pot before you put the plant back in and fill up the pot.


A hydroponic plant also has to be repotted occasionally.

Photo: LianeM /

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