This Is The Best Time to Repot Houseplants

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I don’t believe that there’s a wrong time to repot a houseplant BUT there are definitely times when it’s less stressful for everyone.

Whilst I don’t want you to worry if for some reason you can only repot houseplants in mid-December, there are a couple of things to bear in mind when doing so.

Why I like to repot houseplants in late spring

Late Spring, so like, late May/June is my favourite time to repot for a few reasons

  • The plants have a lot of time to recover AND put out great growth

If you have a plant that you KNOW hates being repotted (i.e. peace lilies), or that has been struggling since winter but is due an up-pot, then repotting in early spring is ideal because the weather isn’t roasting hot (usually) but it’s still warm and bright enough that the plant is getting plenty of energy.

By the time the really hot weather comes, the plant should have recovered sufficiently that it can start putting out some serious growth.

Aaand by the time the winter roll around, they’ve had the maximum time to recover.

If you have mild winters, then you start earlier – I tend to judge it by the last frost.

  • It’s a good time to take cuttings

I tend to take cuttings when I’m repotting plants because it helps me plan them better – so if I’ve had a plant that’s grown at an angle that won’t work, I can chop and prop it, such as this Rhaphidophora decursiva which now has a stem with a 90˚ bend in it:

If you take your cuttings in spring, then they *should* be ready to be potted back up with the mother plant in around August, which means that they’ll be more likely to be well established before the cold weather hits.

It doesn’t really matter. You can take cuttings in January if you like – and I sometimes do. It just really increases the speed and chance of success if you do it in spring.

I repot plants when they need it, and if they need it in November, fine. BUT I have to keep a more vigilant eye on them, and they’re WAY more likely to pick up pests than if you repot in late Spring.

  • It’s easier for them to recover if you have to do a lot of root intervention

My repots in winter involve taking the entire contents of the pot and putting it in the new pot (with extra soil) with as little fanfare as possible. I don’t check the roots, don’t take cuttings, just bounce it from small pot to big pot and then leave it alone.

If you need to trim roots or dig out some mesh/netting, then I would save that for the warmer months.

Can you repot house plants in winter?

You absolutely can, and I do, but only when it’s necessary.

To be honest, I only repot my plants when necessary year-round, but some plants…need repotting in winter, and that’s ok.

Some plants go totally dormant in winter and don’t grow at all. Others, mainly Monstera and peace lilies, don’t put out any new leaves, but will happily keep growing roots. This is fine – it means that when spring does roll around you’ll get a lot of new growth.

It makes sense – roots don’t need light to grow and soil is great at absorbing heat, so roots can therefore grow when leaves can’t.

I do recommend bottom watering for a few weeks after you’ve repotted, especially if you’ve had to go up to a considerably bigger pot.

Adding water can make the soil cold and shock the roots, so if you bottom water, the roots will be encouraged to grow but you’re not soaking all the soil and potentially letting the plant get too cold.

Sit the plant in soil for about 15 minutes and then remove it. You might find that you’re having to water more often because the soil isn’t getting as thoroughly soaked as it would be if you top watered or left it for longer, but you’re less likely to shock the plant.

Shocked plants are pest magnets and that’s NOT what we want.

What happens if you don’t repot a house plant when it needs it?

If all this scares the bejeezus out of you, and you’d prefer to repot all your plants in warmer weather, then that’s fine.

A rootbound plant is NOT necessarily an unhappy plant.

Sure, they dry out faster and there might not be enough nutrients in the soil (because the soil has been displaced by roots) but that isn’t that big of a deal in winter. Again, if you bottom water then the plant will be able to absorb water into the roots and it’ll be fine.

Just make sure it’s on the list to be repotted when it’s spring. You might have to soak and untangle the roots, or even trim off some dead ends, but it’ll be fine.

Plants I repot in winter

This is probably controversial, and it’s not advice, it’s just…what works for me.

I repot plants that HATE being repotted full stop in winter. This is really only my Peace lily, but I’ve had the most success with repotting it in winter.

My peace lily droops SO MUCH and for SO LONG after repotting, that I feel like I’m wasting the growing season if I repot her in it. Instead I repot in winter when she’s miserable anyway.

Now, this is not without its risks, and I wouldn’t try it on a plant that was susceptible to, say, thrips because that just seems like you’re asking for trouble, but peace lilies are fairly pest resistant so it works out well.

Even if the peace lily doesn’t need a fresh pot, I sometimes divide them and rearrange them in the pot so they’re not all cramped together in the middle.

Final thoughts

I like to do the majority of my repotting in the Spring. Note that I don’t repot all my plants in the spring – only those that need it.

Repotting plants in Spring is a great way to get maximum growth out of them in the growing season with minimal stress.

Buuut, if a plant needs repotting in winter, I’ll 100% repot it. I’m just on thrips lookout for the next few months.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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