I’ve just bought a huge ficus elastica from local people, but looks like it has a very small pot - 20x20cm - the plant is 1.80m tall.

I’m living in Estonia and the winter is approaching - right now ins 1 celsius degree. It’s a indoor plant.

The question is: Should I repot the ficus in the next few days or wait for the spring?

I’m pretty new to plants and never did it before.

  • 1
    A couple questions: Is the plant showing any stress (dropping leaves, leaves becoming yellow or brown)? Have you changed the amount of light it receives (does it get more or less light than it did in its last home?)?
    – Jurp
    Nov 6, 2022 at 23:46
  • No signals of stress so far, but I guess the amount of light is pretty high now because I left it directly in the windows and it wasn't like that before I guess... Daylight in the winter is gonna be very rare, around 5~6 hours a day only, that's the reason to put it there. Nov 7, 2022 at 8:19

1 Answer 1


I have a variegated hybrid of a Ficus elastica, which I was given as a small cutting about 10 years ago. It's currently just over a meter tall, with one branch. It's been in a 21cm diameter pot (a little deeper than that - what is called a "trade gallon" in the US) for at least five years. I've intentionally left it in that small pot because I'm trying to keep it at a reasonable size; this appears to be working as its growth rate has dramatically slowed over the years.

My question about stress and light levels was to determine if the plant was "telling you" that it needed repotting. It doesn't seem to be, so there's no rush to move it into a larger pot. In fact, if it's happy, I would just leave it in the pot it's currently in. As for light, my plant has been in a second floor east-facing window since 2014. The sun doesn't rise above the roof of the house next door, so it gets direct sunlight only in the summer (maybe three hours per morning), which is when the majority of its growth takes place.

I water it whenever I remember to, or when the leaves droop, which may be once a month. Although F. elastica rather likes humidity, it can handle drought and, if I remember correctly, doesn't require much fertilizer (I maybe fertilize it annually, if even that often). So yes, I treat my plant very poorly, but it hangs in there and adds maybe 10-15 cm of growth each year. It rarely loses leaves, and when it does, only from the bottom of the plant (some do get some browning on them, though, if I forget to water it).

The biggest issue I've had with this "tall plant in a small pot" is top-heaviness, so there is a 1.25 meter stake in the pot with it, to prevent it from flopping.

My recommendation if you want or need to repot is to wait until spring, then place it in indirect light for about a month while it's rooting into the new potting soil.

  • Thanks a lot for bringing your experience and advice. I'm going to leave it as is until the spring to repot. My main concern was the plant died for some reason in this small pot but looks likes it's a very reliable plant =) Nov 8, 2022 at 12:56
  • You're welcome! My experience with F. elastica is that it dies from too much care, not too little care. Kind of like a cactus in that way.
    – Jurp
    Nov 8, 2022 at 21:55
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    I’ve just found out one thing: looks like it was recently repot. I didn't water since i got it and the soil still a be wet. After that i took a closer look and realize that it’s planted in soil only, it means the drainage is really poor. Some leaf are now turning yellow in the edges. I’m not happy with this pot since Ive got the plant so I guess I’m going to repot it anyway with a proper soil mix. Nov 9, 2022 at 17:36
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    Oh wow, definitely repot it into a good potting soil. Make sure that the pot has a drainage hole before putting the plant back into it; and if it does, only put a potsherd over the hole, not gravel.
    – Jurp
    Nov 9, 2022 at 22:49

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