Expert reveals a simple repotting mistake we often make with our houseplants

Repotting is quite an upheaval for your plants, so make sure you're doing it correctly

houseplants
(Image credit: Getty / Sara Monika)

Proud houseplant parents, listen up – according to a garden expert, many of us are making this really simple repotting mistake that could be putting the health of our plants at risk.

If you have spent the last year filling your home with beautiful indoor plant ideas, the last thing you want is to fall down at the repotting hurdle. Typically houseplants need to be repotted every 12 to 18 months to give the roots space to grow. 

You should be able to tell when your plant is due a repotting when the roots start growing through the pot's drainage holes or start pushing the plant out of the planter.

houseplant and framed photo

(Image credit: Anther + Moss)

When approaching this repotting deadline Timothy Sherratt, founder of plant pot retailer Anther + Moss warns that many of us are often too keen to return our houseplants back to their usual spot. Instead, he explains that they should be kept in a shady area for a week after being repotted.

‘Choose a shady spot for a week,’ Tim advises. ‘Repotting causes root damage, which inhibits the plant’s ability to absorb water.

'The shady spot will help limit the amount of water evaporating from the leaves while the roots recover,’ he says.

If you are keen to add to your indoor plant collection, why not take a look at our round-up of best indoor plants? For those with cats and dogs in the house, our guide to pet-friendly houseplants will ensure you don't run into trouble.

houseplants in grey pots

(Image credit: Anther + Moss)

While repotting is essential for your houseplants to grow, remember that it will place stress on your plants. 'Being re-potted is a lot of upheaval for a plant,’ Tim says. ‘Even if you’re gentle, there’ll be root damage that your houseplant needs to recover from. Limit it to once a year at the most.'

To help your plants recover, be sure to show them a bit of TLC when you transfer them to their new home. We know it might be tempting to opt for a larger pot when repotting, in the hope your plant will take longer to grow out of it. However, this can be just as detrimental to a plant's health, according to Tim.

houseplant in grey pot

(Image credit: Anther + Moss)

If a small plant is placed in too big a pot you run the risk of root rot. This is because the small plant won't be able to drink all the water available, which means the soil will stay damp for too long. 

To get the plant pot size just right Tim recommends only going up 'a pot size or two.' For more information on how to repot a plant, take a look at our expert guide. Happy repotting!

Millie Hurst
Millie Hurst

Millie joined Gardeningetc in January 2021 as a news writer. When she isn't writing about gardening, she's tending to her small front garden. Her geraniums, dahlias and nasturtiums are looking lovely right now. She recently bought a bench for the garden and is loving alfresco lunch breaks and taking time to notice seedlings growing. She loves picking up some new plants at the local garden centre and is never without some fresh flowers at home.