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Potting 101

January 27, 2016

We do a lot of potting here at The Sill – whether it is potting a plant from it’s plastic nursery pot into a more substantial ceramic or terra cotta planter, or repotting a plant in a new planter to provide it with more space to grow or new, fresh soil.

The Sill - Potting 101

The Sill – Potting 101


Plants typically need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months, but some slow growers like the Hoya kerrii can call the same pot home for many years.  A common misconception – repotting does not necessarily mean replacing a plant’s pot, but rather, changing its soil or potting mix. Great news if you love your current planter. If you’re looking to splurge on a new one, or you’re changing up your seasonal decor, try to keep the planter size no more than 1″-2″ smaller or larger. A plant should never been swimming in soil in an over-sized pot – that can lead to overwatering and eventually root rot.

Signs You Need To Repot:

  • The plant is in its original plastic grow pot from the nursery
  • The roots are growing through the drainage hole at the bottom of the planter
  • The roots are pushing the plant up, out of the planter
  • The plant is growing slower than normal
  • The plant is extremely top heavy, and falls over easily
  • The plant dries out more quickly than usual, requiring more frequent waterings
  • There is noticeable salt & mineral build up on the plant or planter

Your Potting Toolbox:

  • Newspaper to lay down for easy clean-up
  • Well-draining potting soil for indoor container gardening
  • A watering can or water bottle
  • Small scissors for potential pruning
  • Your houseplant
  • A planter made of a substantial material like stoneware or terra cotta
Potting 101 - The Sill

Potting 101 – The Sill

 Potting 101:

  1. Water your plant thoroughly the day or two before to prep it for potting
  2. Cover your makeshift potting table with newspaper
  3. Turn your potted plant upside down, hold it gently by the stems, and tap the bottom of the container until the plant slides out. Feel free to get those hands dirty and help by loosening soil and gently tugging.
  4. Loosen the roots and prune any dead or extra long roots. If your plant is root bound (meaning the roots are growing in tight circles around the plant), gently unbind the roots and trim them back.
  5. Remove at least 1/3 of the old potting mix.
  6. Pour a layer of new, pre-moistened potting mix into the planter. Fresh soil = new nutrients!
  7. Set your plant atop the new soil in the planter, making sure it’s centered and sits slightly below the lip of the planter.
  8. Add new soil around your plant until it is secure – be sure not to press down too hard, you want the roots to be able to breath.
  9. Even out the potting mix on top, water well, and let drain. Done!


  • Look for well-draining soil meant for indoor container gardening. This will help you from overwatering your plant in the future, and can usually be found in apartment-friendly sized bags.
  • Pick a planter with a drainage hole and saucer, or make your own drainage by lining the bottom of your planter with rocks and sand. This creates crevices for excess water to trickle down into.
  • Keep a newly potted plant out of bright, direct sun for a few days, as it acclimates to its new environment.


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