Repotting 101: How to repot a plant for space or when it sprouts new growth


My snake plant — named Daniel Plainview after the character in “There Will be Blood,” because he was devious and, well, it’s a snake plant — had a baby. One day I looked over and there was this little sprout proudly shooting up from the soil. So, I bellowed, “Welcome to the world, H.W. Plainview!” You see, it was a joyous moment for this plant mama. This has never happened to one of my plants. Probably because until two years ago I was a serial plant killer. After a lifetime of dead succulents, cacti and every other imaginable type of allegedly unkillable plants left in my wake, my farmer genes finally kicked in and, now I have a windowsill herb garden, several house plants, plus I propagate plants and my plant babies suddenly have babies of their own. My farmer grandparents and exceptionally green-thumbed father are no longer embarrassed. About that, I have no clue what they think about anything else in the long list of my quirks and personality traits.

Meanwhile, after allowing little H.W. to learn and grow at the feet (uh, roots) of his Machiavellian father for a bit, I thought it best to separate the two, for their emotional and physical health. If you ever need to repot a plant, here’s how I did it.

Tools and Materials

  • Potting soil
  • Handheld trowel or a big spoon
  • Pot or some other receptacle (I repurposed a chipped ramekin)
  • Plastic bottle (if you are using something without drainage) slightly smaller than your container
  • Aquarium gravel (optional)
  • Scissors
  • A marker or pen



1. Gather your tools and materials on your work surface.

2. If you are using a receptacle without drainage, mark a line on the plastic bottle by using the top of the vessel as your guide, then draw a line all the way around the bottle and cut off the top. Poke holes in the bottom of the bottle, if you don’t want to have to always flip the plant every time you water it to drain the water while holding your hand over the gravel to keep it from flying out. I speak from experience on this one. Just poke the holes.

3. Make sure the new plastic liner fits in your container and if not, trim it to the desired height.

4. Place potting soil in the plastic liner and make a little well with your fingers or the trowel.

5. Remove the plant if you are repotting or if it sprouts and you are repotting the new growth.

6. If you are repotting the new growth, inspect the roots to make sure they are big enough to support rooting. If not, place the sprout in a cup of water for a few days or weeks to allow the roots to grow. If you are good to go with nice roots, place the plant in the little well of dirt.

7. Fill in the well and around the plant with additional soil.

8. Give it a little water and say a blessing over the little guy to wish him health and happiness in his new life journey.

9. Add aquarium gravel to the top. This helps prevent gnats.

10. Place your plant baby in his new home and watch him grow into a snake in the grass, just like his conniving father before him. Unless it’s not a snake plant, then I’m sure it’ll be a kind, loving, honest and upstanding plant citizen.



Happy growing!



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