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If your pothos plant has gotten out of hand, you may need to repot — Here’s how

Pothos vines aren’t complicated to care for and can often become a centerpiece plant in your home. Whether trained onto supports or in a hanging basket, a well-cared-for plant can grow up to 30-feet-long (though many are pruned to a much smaller size so they don’t overtake the home). But how does a pothos in a small pot get that big? Simple: It doesn’t. These larger pothos have often been repotted a handful of times to reach their final destination, and it’s actually an important part of pothos care (especially when you’re moving to a new home).

Marble queen pothos

Why it’s important to repot your pothos

Repotting is often done for two reasons: the plant has outgrown the pot or the plant is having health problems. In the case of the latter, you’re most likely repotting to a pot of similar size that’s clean and free of contamination. So let’s focus on the former.

When your pothos gets too big for its home, repotting becomes a necessary part of care to ensure that it can keep living. In a small, cramped space, not only will it stop growing due to overgrown, compacted roots, but it will also prevent your plant from getting the proper amount of water and nutrients it needs to survive. If you want to have a happy, healthy pothos for many years, it’s important to repot your plant (on average) once per year

When should I repot my pothos?

It’s best to repot your pothos during the active growing season, usually in the spring or summer months. This will be when your plant is at its strongest, actively growing and absorbing nutrients, and it will be able to better recover from and withstand the stress of being disturbed and moved to a new home.

You’ll know your pothos is ready for repotting when:

  1. The leaves droop.
  2. The roots grow out of the hole in the bottom of the pot.
  3. The roots grow out of the top of the soil.

In the case of any of these happening, you’ll want to carefully lift your plant from the pot next time the soil is dry and see if it’s become rootbound. Note that leaf droop can be several other things, too, so if the roots haven’t outgrown the pot, you may need to troubleshoot some other problems.

Should I water pothos before repotting?

Honestly, it depends. Say it’s Monday and you’re planning to repot on Saturday when the sun’s out and you have the time away from work. In the case of planning ahead, you want to make sure you water no fewer than two days in advance to make sure the roots are well hydrated. In our scenario, you’d water by Thursday but not on Friday.

Making sure the roots are hydrated helps decrease the risk of root shock; however, giving the soil that two-day buffer to dry out makes it easier to get out of the pot and ensures that minimal damage is done to the roots due to being dug from heavy, wet soil.

A pothos in a white pot

How to repot pothos plants

Repotting your pothos isn’t that different from repotting any of your other plants — you just want to make sure you’re being mindful of the vines. Make sure as you go through the process that you’re grabbing the base of the plant near the soil and roots as opposed to the ends of the vines to cause the least amount of damage.

You’ll want to have your new pot on hand before you take the pothos out of the old one. If you’re hoping to let it grow bigger, the new one should be a few inches larger. Then grab a bag of fresh potting mix and follow these steps:

  1. Remove the pothos from its current pot. The best way to do this is to tip the pot on its side and slide the plant out. If needed, you can use a rubber spatula to work around the edges of the dirt. Just make sure you don’t pull on the plant, or you could damage the roots and stems.
  2. Prepare the new pot. Fill the new (clean!) pot with an inch or two of soil to create a buffer between the roots and the bottom of the pot.
  3. Set the pothos upright in the pot. Make sure the pothos is centered, then add more potting mix around the sides to close the spaces, leaving about two inches of space at the top. Be sure not to pack the soil down so that the roots have room to breathe.
  4. Water your newly potted pothos. After repotting, you should water generously until it starts to come out of the bottom of the pot. The soil will have settled, and you can add a bit more to the top.

Do pothos need big pots?

It all depends on the size of your pothos and how big you want them to get. If you have a small pothos or a cutting to start, then you don’t need a big pot at all — one that’s three or four inches in diameter will suffice. But a pothos with long trailing vines and a larger root system will need a bigger space. You just want to make sure that your pothos is cozy but not suffocating, and you want to keep it from being too root-bound.

What should I repot my pothos in?

When repotting your pothos, you want to make sure you’re always using a fresh potting mix and a clean container with a drainage hole. The fresh soil will help provide more nutrients to your plant, and the clean pot ensures there’s as minimal contamination or disease transferred to your plant as possible. The drainage hole, on the other hand, is your key to helping minimize the risk of root rot and soggy soil that can harm your pothos.

Once it’s happily settled in the new container, your pothos will continue thriving and growing to the best of their ability. Care for it diligently, keep it tidy, and you should be able to enjoy your trailing vine for a long time.

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