If your Pothos plant has been in the same pot for several years or is beginning to show signs of struggle, a repotting is likely on the cards. Luckily, the process is straightforward and gives you some one-on-one time with these beautiful, symbolic plants. Follow this repotting guide to make sure you get it right.
- Repotting Pothos Plants – The Essentials
- Why Repotting Pothos Plants is Necessary
- How Often Do Pothos Plants Need Repotting?
- Best Times of Year to Consider Repotting
- The Best Soil Mix When Repotting Pothos Plants
- What Tools Will I Need When Repotting a Pothos Plant?
- Potting Vessel Considerations
- How to Repot Your Pothos Plant
- Post Repotting Care
- Repotting Pothos Plant FAQs
- Wrap Up
Repotting Pothos Plants – The Essentials
Pothos plants are fast growers, requiring repotting every one to two years. When roots begin to grow through the drainage holes, or when the soil breaks down, repot into a container one or two sizes up from the original. Repot in spring to take advantage of the growing season using a soil mix that matches the one from the original pot.
Why Repotting Pothos Plants is Necessary
Every long-living houseplant will need repotting at some point. There are several reasons why each contributes to plant health or growth.
The first reason to repot, which most houseplant parents are concerned with, is growth. Pothos plants may grow slower indoors than outdoors, but they will eventually take up all the available space in the pot.
Once the roots start circling the bottom of the pot, popping out above the soil line, or creeping through drainage holes, you’ll know the plant is rootbound. If the roots don’t have space to grow, the top half of the plant can’t grow either.
Giving the plant more space by repotting will do wonders for growth. It also gives you the chance to untangle roots that may constrict each other, limiting water and nutrient uptake problems.
Extremely slow-growing plants will be happy in the same pot for several years without outgrowing the space. However, that doesn’t mean the soil they’re sitting in will still be suitable for strong growth.
Over time, soil begins to degrade in the same pot. The structure slowly breaks down, compacting in places and holding far less water in others.
Nutrients also wash out of the soil as you water over time. Even if you add additional fertilizer, degraded soil cannot hold onto the nutrients, simply washing them out through the drainage holes rather than delivering them to the roots where needed.
After 3-4 years (2-3 years for smaller pots), the plant will need new soil to keep the roots happy. Depending on the plant, you may even be able to use the same pot, simply cleaning the old soil off the roots and repotting it into the new soil.
Pests & Diseases
Although you try your best to keep our houseplants pest and disease-free, you will likely encounter some insidious problem at some point.
Repotting is an essential part of resolving the problem if that problem is soil-borne or spread – as is the case with fungus gnats, mold, or root rot.
Pests and diseases often reside in the soil, enjoying the darkness and moist conditions. Although there are some fungicides and insecticides that may help, they also have the potential to harm your plants in the process. Repotting is a far safer control method.
In the case of root rot, repotting also lets you get a closer look at the roots to remove any damage. The problem will continue without cutting off spreading to other roots until the plant is completely dead.
Repotting gives you the chance to completely replace the soil, clean off the roots, and eliminate the problem for good.
A less ‘necessary’ reason to repot, depending on the plant, is propagating. However, it is a fascinating gardening activity, allowing you to grow even more of your favorite plants at no cost.
Most gardeners choose to propagate by cuttings when it comes to the Pothos. But, if your plant is bushy and lush, you can also propagate by division.
Simply remove the plant from its original pot, pull apart the roots, gather the stems into smaller clumps, and repot into as many pots as required. It’s quite literally getting two plants for the price of one.
How Often Do Pothos Plants Need Repotting?
Pothos plants are rapid growers, with most types adding 12-18 inches to their length every month in spring and summer.
They are also typically planted in smaller pots than other plants. The roots prefer to be a little crowded and grow quickly in smaller pots.
These factors combined mean your Pothos will need a repotting quite regularly. Depending on the growth rate of your plant and its environmental conditions, most will benefit from a repotting every 1-2 years.
Slow-growing plants, whether that be due to variegation or low lighting conditions, will need repotting closer to every two years, potentially longer depending on the original size of the pot.
It’s always best to repot only when necessary. Repotting too early can result in shock and cause plant stress when it is not necessary.
Keep an eye out for signs that your plant needs repotting rather than repotting regularly every year:
Signs Your Pothos Needs Repotting
- Stunted growth in the peak growing seasons of spring and summer
- Roots growing through the drainage holes or above the soil line
- Water drains from the pot too quickly
- Yellowing or dropping leaves
Best Times of Year to Consider Repotting
Repotting can stress your Pothos and cause transplant shock. For the plant to bounce back quickly, it’s best to repot during the peak growing season. This will allow the plant to recover and ensure the roots grow and establish themselves in the new soil as fast as possible.
Repot your Pothos from early spring once the weather warms through to mid-summer. Avoid repotting when temperatures are high, as the plants will stop growing in temperatures above 90F.
If you live in a warmer region or have a suitable warm room in your home, you can repot in late winter too. The root growth should kick in just in time for spring.
The Best Soil Mix When Repotting Pothos Plants
Pothos plants require airy, well-draining soil to deliver oxygen to the roots and prevent root rot.
The ideal soil mix combines materials designed to hold enough water when the plants need it without becoming waterlogged and suffocating the plant.
Any specialized houseplant potting mix should be suitable for your Pothos, or you can make your own by amending potting soil with coconut coir or peat moss and perlite or bark.
Making your own soil mix is preferred when repotting. It allows you to tailor the mix to what your Pothos is used to, limiting any chances of shock later on.
Take a handful of the original potting soil and look at the components used. Try to replicate that texture and consistency in your new soil mix as best as possible. This will ensure your Pothos will be happy in their new home without any growth problems.
Alternatively, if you’ve noticed a problem with the original soil mix, add amendments to resolve the issue in the new pot. For example, if you see the original soil does not drain well enough, add an extra handful of perlite and bark to improve drainage in the new pot.
What Tools Will I Need When Repotting a Pothos Plant?
All you need to get started is a new pot. If you want to trim the roots (as in cases of root rot), ensure you have a clean pair of shears or trimmers handy.
You can also use gardening gloves to mix the soil if you don’t feel like getting your hands dirty.
Potting Vessel Considerations
Choosing a new pot is an essential step in the process of repotting. Many gardeners choose a new pot far too large in the hopes that it will encourage more growth. However, it usually has the opposite effect.
If the new pot is too large, the excess soil where the roots do not reach will hold onto too much moisture, leading to root rot or fungal growth. And, as your Pothos grows better when slightly under pressure, the extra space will have the opposite effect on the growth rate.
Only choose a pot one or two sizes up at most, with an inch or two of extra space in each direction. Don’t worry about needing to repot too soon, they will be happy in these conditions for at least another year or two.
Along with size, container materials are also an essential factor.
Your Pothos likely came planted in a plastic pot. These pots are inexpensive and don’t degrade quickly, especially when left indoors and out of the direct sun. However, there are many more container options when repotting:
- Terra cotta: An interior design go-to. Not only do they look great, but they also draw moisture away from the soil, preventing root rot.
- Fabric: Fabric pots are the environmentally friendly favorite. They are also great for drainage but can get messy indoors as water escapes from all sides.
- Ceramic: Another popular design option but can be pricey. Ensure your ceramic pot has enough drainage holes, or plant in a plastic pot and rest it inside the ceramic container as a pot cover.
- Wood: Provides a stunning natural look that suits the cascading vines of the Pothos. However, they do degrade quickly due to moisture exposure.
- Recycled containers: Almost anything can be a Pothos pot with a few drainage holes drilled in the bottom.
There is no quality more important in your new container than drainage. Without drainage holes, water will collect in the pot, rotting the roots and ultimately killing the plant.
Ensure your chosen container has plenty of drainage holes that are large enough not to be easily blocked by soil particles. If there is no drainage, drill a few holes in the bottom at an even distance to stop water from collecting on one side of the pot.
If you like a container with no drainage, you can still use it as a decorative pot cover. Simply repot your Pothos into the right-sized plastic pot and rest it inside the decorative pot.
Make sure you remove it when you water and leave all the excess water to drain before putting it back to stop water collecting and stagnating in the bottom.
How to Repot Your Pothos Plant
With your soil mix prepared and your new pot ready, repotting shouldn’t take more than a few minutes:
- Remove the plant from its existing pot. Shake off the old soil and tease the roots to untangle them.
- If the soil has any pests or diseases, rinse off any excess around the roots gently with water to ensure the roots are completely clean.
- Fill the new pot around 1/3 with your chosen soil mix. You can cover the bottom of the pot with a small layer of gravel to stop soil from spilling out the bottom, but this is not a necessity. Don’t use any gravel in hanging baskets as it will weigh down the pot, especially when watering.
- Place the Pothos on the bottom soil layer, spreading the roots out so they are not tangled or growing upwards.
- Fill in the gaps around the plant with additional soil up to an inch or two below the rim of the new pot. This will stop the soil from spilling out when watering.
- Firm down gently around the base of the plant to anchor it in place.
Post Repotting Care
Always water your pothos plant immediately after repotting to limit shock and encourage new root growth. Place the plant back in the same spot it was in initially to prevent any further stress due to changes in conditions.
Any signs of stress, such as yellowing or wilting leaves, should fix themselves after a few weeks. Don’t change your care routine during this time, as it will only further the problem. After about a month, if it has not resolved itself, look for the cause and rectify it.
Repotting Pothos Plant FAQs
Should I soak my Pothos before repotting?
Some houseplants benefit from soaking before repotting to make the roots more pliable. However, it’s better to hold off on watering for a few days before when it comes to Pothos. This makes the plant easier to remove from the pot and allows you to remove the old soil quickly.
Should you water Pothos immediately after repotting?
Watering immediately is vital, especially if your soil is not pre-moistened. Plant roots do not like being exposed to the air, and this watering will limit the stress of repotting, encouraging new growth.
Do Pothos plants like big pots?
As Pothos plants grow far longer than they do wide, they do not require large pots. Choose a pot one or two sizes up at most when repotting.
Why is my Pothos limp after repotting?
Repotting can result in shock, which may cause the leaves and stems to turn limp. If the plant is in the same conditions and has enough water, there is no need to worry. It should return to normal after the period of adjustment.
Should I mist my Pothos after repotting?
Misting is not required after repotting, but it may help clean up the leaves and remove any debris. The excess moisture can also help relieve the plant after exposure to the air, but regular watering will also do the trick.
Any Pothos owner will need to repot their beloved plant at some point. But it doesn’t have to be the tedious task some make it out to be. With a new pot, a fresh soil mix, and a few minutes of time, your plant will be far happier in its new pot home.
For more, see our in-depth guide on whether pothos plants are pet friendly.