Sometimes caring for a house plant can be a bit like caring for a small child - it’s temperamental, it can’t really tell you what it needs, and sometimes you know something is wrong but you just can’t put your finger on what it might be.
Okay, maybe caring for a child is a little more complex, but house plants definitely have their tricky moments! One of the most frustrating issues you might come across with your indoor plants is when your favorite plant suddenly stops growing. It will make you question what could possibly be happening, where you went wrong, and what you can do to fix it.
Don’t worry - we’re here to help.
Why aren’t my plants growing?
If you have a houseplant that looks generally healthy and doesn’t seem to be over-watered or under-watered but it’s still just not growing at all, it’s likely because your plant needs a larger pot. House plants tend to outgrow their containers every 1-2 years and need to be planted in a larger container with fresh soil.
Here are a few signs that your plant needs a larger container:
The leaves are yellowing. Yellow leaves are pretty much always a sure sign that something’s up with your plant. One of the reasons for yellowing leaves could be that it’s not getting the proper nutrients due to a too-small container.
The roots are showing through the top of the soil. If you can see the roots at the top of the container, it’s a sure sign that your plant is root-bound and needs a larger pot. When the roots don’t have anywhere to go, they begin to circle around themselves and grow out of the top of the soil, which will prevent your plant from getting any larger.
You can see the roots in the drainage hole. Similarly, if you can see roots growing out of the bottom of your container, it means the roots are getting too large and need a larger pot.
If you check out your slow-growing houseplant and notice that it does, in fact, need to be repotted, it’s a very simple process that should get your plant looking healthy and lush again in no time.
Here’s how to repot a plant:
Start by choosing a slightly larger container (here are some tips on choosing the right container for your plant).
Carefully remove the plant from the old container. You may need to lightly water it to loosen the soil, or tap on the sides of the container a bit. The easiest way to remove the plant is to support the base of the plant with one hand, then flip the pot upside down with the other hand. It should slide right out. Be careful not to hold the plant by the stems, or it may break. If necessary, you can use a small knife or trowel to loosen the sides.
Inspect the plant and roots. Give the plant a quick once-over to see if there are any areas that are rotted or moldy. You don’t want to mess with the roots too much, but do try to remove any moldy soil and loosen up the roots slightly if you can.
Add a layer of soil to your new pot - you’ll want the top of the root ball to sit at least ½” or so below the top of the container.
Position your plant in the pot, then fill in around the plant with your remaining soil (we recommend Harvest Organic Potting Mix!).
Thoroughly water your plant - until water begins to come out of the drainage holes. If necessary, now is also a great time to remove any brown or dead leaves.
Once your plant has been transplanted, all you need to do is keep an eye on it to make sure the shock of the new container doesn’t cause any issues (it may need more or less watering over the next few weeks as it adjusts), and then sit back and watch it start growing again!