I just bought several houseplants that were delivered to my home. I'm super excited that I got them, but I have to confess that these are my first plants ever. Now my friend told me that you should repot them immediately.

But I watched a Youtube Video and it said that you have to look at four signs that a plant wants to be repotted.

  1. Doesn't grow anymore
  2. The soil disappears about 3 inches
  3. The water is not absorbed by the soil
  4. You can see the root coming out of the plastic container (don't know the name)

So should I repot my plants or should I wait for the four signs?

The pictures have been downloaded from my offsite collection. Click on them for larger views.

1st in online collection 2nd 3rd 4th 5th 6th 7th 8th

  • We need more information really, or a photo - it depends what size pots they're in already, and seeing the ratio of growth to pot is helpful to decide that
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 10:34
  • @Bamboo thank you for your help! I added some photos link . I don't know if it is possible to tell via these pictures Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 14:28
  • Hi Philipp Mochine. Those are good pictures! I downloaded them from your off-site collection for our readers to see. Good luck with your plants! Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 22:03

4 Answers 4


These are good sized, healthy plants, and the pots aren't tiny either. The fern and the Ivy should be potted on into something larger, not least because the soil level is too high in the pot - it should be just shy of half an inch below the top. The Haworthia is fine in the pot's its got - hard to tell for sure about the others, particularly the one in the zinc pot (which I think is a Peace Lily, although it doesn't have any lower leaves). If you're unsure about a particular plant, ensure it's been watered first a while beforehand, and turn it out of its pot and check - if you can see roots wrapping round, it needs the next size up pot.

All pots you use should have drainage holes in the bottom, and in regard to watering ongoing, always empty any outer tray or pot 30 minutes after watering - when you do water, water thoroughly, and the general rule as to when to water is when the surface of the potting soil feels just dry to the touch, but not so dry it's shrunken from the sides of the pot.

Note the Haworthia will need less water in winter, and does not appreciate direct sunlight.

  • Thank you @bamboo! BTW the plant in the zinc pot is a Castanos (if there is such an english name). Another little question, when choosing a bigger pot, would you use a plastic one again? And I love every advise you gave me! I definitely give you my "question answered" mark! Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 18:12
  • 2
    Castanos is chestnut, or as a houseplant, a chestnut 'sprout' from a germinated nut usually, which explains why its got bare stems at the base... yea, I'd use plastic, though when it comes time to repot the Haworthia, I might seek out a terracotta pot for that, but plastic will do otherwise.
    – Bamboo
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 20:16

Usually plants are pre-grown in small (cheap) pots and the soil is exhausted when sold to the customers (you in this case). So putting new bought plants in a larger pot is always a good idea. Waiting for signs to appear is a bit too late if you ask me, preventing these symptoms is always better them curing them.

  • Okay, interesting. My mother just told me that those little plants are too weak to being repotted and you need to wait a while. Everything is so confusing haha. I added some pictures of my plants, perhaps you could have a look: link Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 14:30
  • 2
    I think a transplantation to fresh soil and larger pots would benefit all plants. I see no urgency though, your plants seem to be in good shape as far as I can see.
    – benn
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 16:32

I looked at the photos and I’d say both your friend and the YouTuber are right in your case. All your plants look healthy and they’d all benefit from more room in their pots. They are certainly strong enough to transplant.

  • Thank you! I'm curious what would you say how long could they last in their pots without transplant? (Lets say best case, one year? Or is that way too long?) Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 18:14
  • 2
    Bamboo left you sound recommendations. You can delay without stressing them for 2-3 months is my best guess.
    – herb guy
    Commented Mar 11, 2018 at 18:23

Absolutely. You should definitely repot. You're right about the four signs and I think most of the people are right in their observations. Bamboo always has good advice.

The reason I suggest you repot any new plant immediately is that you don't know what kinds of crazy things are going on in the pot. I'm coming at this more with my orchids in mind, but I've seen it in regular house plants as well.

Here's an example. I almost lost a plant once, because while I watered it regularly, it couldn't access it. The grower had grown the plant in a super cheap and flimsy plastic pot. When they wen to sell it, they just stuffed it in a larger pot and stuffed good looking potting soil around it. My watering was hitting that inner plastic pot and directing the water around it. So it was dying of dehydration.

That's a common practice with phalenopsis orchids at big box stores. They jam a junk grow pot in a decorative pot. Especially, those just add ice people. They actually recommend putting ice on your tropical plant. So don't trust a grower to be looking out for your best interest. Some are great, but some want you to buy a new plant so they can make a profit. That's why I don't take a chance and repot all new plants. That way I know what I'm working with. It also resolved issues mentioned above like soil that is depleted.

The thing to keep in mind as a new plant owner (congratulations and welcome to the hobby by the way) is using the correct type of soil for the plant. For instance, I'm not exactly sure what that succulent plant is with the white stripes, because succulents aren't really my specialty, but it looks like tiger aloe maybe. That type of plant stores water and you've got to be careful not to over water it. You can rot the roots and then the plant will start drying out. You'll water more, thinking that it needs more, but in reality, the roots are rotted and gone and it can't absorb that water.

For succulents and cactus, you can buy a soil specifically for them from a big box store. I mix my own because it's cheaper. I just use my regular miracle grow, and mix 3 parts of that, to 1 part of perlite, and 1 part of play sand, which I get 50lbs of for about $4 at home depot. This soil is very well draining and doesn't easily compact. For the others I'd just use something like miracle grow till you start researching more about your soils. I've always had success with it, though I've moved into composting and worm casting and mixing my own soils.

What I suggest, with you being new to plants, is what I did when I started out. Look up the names of your plants and research the ever living mess out of them. Look up where and how they grow in the wild. Do they grow in shad under trees or in full sun. You see a lot of ferns in the woods under the shade of trees. You also see a lot of them near creeks. Thus they like to stay damp, but not wet. Most, but not all plants dislike being "wet". It's something you'll develop a fill for. An exception that comes to mind are my carnivorous plants. They like to be swampy.

Look up youtube videos and articles on caring for that plant. Be prepared to find contradictory information. :) Just pick what makes sense and experiment. The best recommendation I can give you is to get multiples of any plant you haven't cared for before. Don't put all your eggs in one basket. Say you have 3 plants. You've got them in the shade. You keep two in the shade and move one into full sun. It gets burned and dies. You hate it, but you've got two left so it's whatever. You move one of the others from the shade to morning sun and shade the rest of the day. It does well and puts on new growth, so you move the other one up and it does just as well. Then you hold your breath and put one of them in full sun half the day or even all day. Maybe it dies or maybe it does even better. Either way, you've learned something. You've learned that it either likes full sun, but you need to let it sit for about a week at each increase in light level so it can handle the change, or else you've learned it's not a full sun plant and likes mostly shade, but can tolerate morning sun. You'll keep it there and it'll grow and multiple and within a couple of years, you'll have it stuck all over your house and will be giving the babies away to friends.

So those are my reasons as to why I think you should repot. Also, as a bonus, here are some almost indestructible beginner plants for you to try. Spider Plant, Sansevaria(mother-in-law tounge), peace lily, and (drum roll) the most indestructible plant you can grow in almost pitch black with spotty watering, Pothos! Good luck.

  • @datlton thank you for your tips!! so cool of you Commented Mar 23, 2018 at 7:53
  • @ Philipp Mochine No worries.
    – Dalton
    Commented Mar 27, 2018 at 20:33

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