How to Repot a Pothos Plant in 5 Easy Steps
Does your pothos plant need repotting? Maybe you've just brought one home, or perhaps your favorite pothos is growing too big for it's current container. If so, you'll need to follow specific steps to make sure you don't harm your pothos plant in the process. In this article and corresponding video, gardening expert Logan Hailey teaches you how to repot your pothos plant in 5 easy steps!
Pothos (Epipremnum aureum) are among the easiest houseplants to care for. However, they need to be in the proper container to thrive. Pothos plants that are rootbound, overgrown, or diseased may need to be transplanted into a new pot to promote lush growth and healthy roots.
Thankfully repotting these common houseplants is a simple, yet often overlooked process. The most important considerations include checking the roots, choosing the right container, filling with a well-drained soil mix, and physically replanting the pothos.
Whether you just bought a new pothos plant from the nursery or you have an older plant you’ve been waiting to repot, transplanting pothos is a breeze with these 5 simple steps.
Pothos plants are remarkably resilient houseplants that can live for up to 10 years under the right conditions. However, just like any living thing, they can quickly become unhappy if they outgrow their “home” (their container) or face environmental pressures like a disease.
The most common reasons why you want to repot a pothos include:
- Transplanting a new plant from the nursery
- Up-potting to a larger container
- The foliage has overgrown the current pot
- The plant has become rootbound and/or roots are poking out of the soil
- You need to replace a poor soil mix
- You want to replant it into a more aesthetically-pleasing pot
- Removing damaged plant parts from root rot or other diseases
Repotting is typically a routine process for indoor container plants. It can be done up to a few times per year, depending on the size of the container, vigor of the plant, and speed of growth. Regardless of the reason, the repotting process is more or less the same for all pothos plants.
5 Easy Steps to Repot Pothos Plants
As long as you properly prepare, pothos plants can quickly adapt to a new pot and grow larger and lusher than ever before. You can follow these steps if your plant has grown too big for its existing container, or if you’ve welcomed a brand new baby pothos into your indoor garden. Let’s look at each step!
Assess the Plant’s Health
Before diving into the actual repotting, begin by assessing the health of your plant both above and below the soil surface.
Healthy Pothos Foliage Should Be
- Upright and well-watered (not wilted or limp)
- Vibrant green color
- Depending on the specific variety, there may be cream-colored streaks
- Healthy growing stems (no browning, breakage, or rotting)
After checking the foliage, prune off any sick or unhealthy-looking leaves before continuing. Next, gently grasp the plant by its base and wiggle it out of the container.
- If the plant is in a plastic flexible container, you can lightly squeeze the pot and shimmy it around to more easily dislodge the roots.
- If the plant is in a rigid or ceramic pot, lightly pull from the base of the plant while you turn the pot on its side or upside down.
Ideally, the root ball should be easy to pull from its container and the plant should come out in one piece. Inspect the root ball to be sure it is ready to be repotted.
Healthy Pothos Roots Have
- A pleasant earthy aroma (no foul rotten or anaerobic smells)
- Creamy white or tan color (brown, mushy, or yellow color may be signs of root rot)
- A strong root ball that holds onto the existing soil (some soil may fall to the side as you remove it from the pot, but don’t be alarmed by this)
If you notice that the pothos roots are rotten, mushy, or do not appear healthy, you have a few options, depending on what you feel comfortable with. Because Pothos are easy to propagate from cuttings, you’ll have different choices of what to do, compared to other plants.
Prune Rotten Roots
Use sanitized shears or pruners to cut off the rotten portions of roots and throw infected pieces away. Optionally rinse the remaining roots under clean water.
Grow From Cuttings Instead
If the foliage is healthy, you can simply take cuttings to start new plants and dispose of the existing root ball.
Discard the Plant
- If the root rot has really taken hold and damaged the plant, consider throwing it away and restarting with a new pothos plant.
You will have to use your fingertips to loosen the roots if your pothos is rootbound (the roots are dense, tangled, and/or wrapping around the interior shape of the container). This may include ripping apart entangled root hairs.
Don’t be alarmed: pothos are very resilient and their roots are not nearly as sensitive as plants like peace lilies or garden squash during transplanting.
Remember, repotting can help revitalize a sad pothos plant, however, it is not a cure-all for any houseplant problem. Learn more about diagnosing pothos problems and growing healthy, happy pothos plants here.
Choose a Container With Drainage Holes
The most important thing to remember about pothos is that they love drainage and they hate “wet feet” (ie. soggy root conditions).
The most common pothos problems come from poorly drained soil or pothos roots sitting in “waterlogged” conditions. If your pot or container doesn’t have drainage holes, it could be a recipe for disaster. Waterlogged plants will show with yellowing leaves, and in worst case, plant death.
E. aureum plants are native to the tropics where soils are often sandy, acidic, and allow water to move through them very quickly. This is important during the monsoon season when large volumes of rainwater fall at once.
In the wild, pothos roots stay dry because the water drains through the sandy, loose soil very quickly. But as a houseplant, the water has to have somewhere to go. Otherwise, it can wind up pooling up at the bottom of the container creating a breeding ground for root rot pathogens like Rhizoctonia., Phytophthora, or Pythium.
The best pothos containers include:
- Hanging planters with several large drainage holes
- Ceramic, glazed pottery, or clay pots with a large center drainage hole and saucer tray underneath
- Plastic “self-watering” containers with holes in the bottom and a removable catchment tray
- Any planter that has at least one drainage hole every 4-6”
If you want to modify a plastic or metal planter, use a drill to add extra drainage holes in the bottom.
Choose a container that is at least 2-3 times the size of the existing root ball. Pothos can grow quite quickly and you don’t want to have to up-pot it again in a few months.
Fill With a Well-Drained Potting Mix
Whether you purchase or blend your potting mix, ensure that water moves through the soil very quickly. You can test this by filling an empty pot with the mix and pouring water over it. The water should instantly penetrate the soil surface and drain through the bottom within a minute or two. Irrigation water should never pool up or accumulate on the top of the soil.
Certain ingredients maximize drainage while still ensuring ample fertility, soil microbiome balance, and moisture retention. The best soil ingredients for pothos soil mix include:
- Peat moss
- Pine bark
Some of our favorite DIY pothos soil mix recipes are:
- 1 part perlite, 1 part compost, 1 part potting mix
- 2 parts peat moss, 1 part perlite, 1 part fine pine bark
- 1 part cactus/succulent potting mix, 1 part compost
You can also purchase a premade organic potting mix specifically made for indoor houseplants, such as [affiliate link].
To fill your container, simply scoop the potting mix into the pot until it’s filled about halfway. Because you want to maintain plenty of aeration and oxygen flow, avoid compacting or pushing down the soil.
Plant at the Proper Depth
Once your plant, container, and soil are prepared, getting the pothos into their new home is fast and easy.
First, scoop out a hole in the center slightly larger than the pothos root ball. You can move this soil up the sides of the pot and place your plant in the middle.
The most important part of this step is ensuring that the soil level remains the same as it was in the original pot. This means that the pothos vines should not be buried, nor should the roots be exposed. You may need to hold your pothos by the base as you backfill to ensure that it stays level with the top.
Backfill and Water-In
To backfill, scoop enough soil into the container to fill the rest of the pot. Gently tamper it down (but don’t press) to leave plenty of aeration while ensuring root-to-soil contact.
Again, double-check that the roots are not sticking up above the surface nor are the vines buried below the surface. If the stems or vines are buried, this could lead to issues with rot. Hold the plant at the base and pull it up to soil level while filling a bit more soil into the sides.
Lastly, it’s vital to “water in” your newly transplanted plant. This will help it settle into its new pot and begin extending its roots into the surrounding soil.
Poor water at the base until it runs out of the bottom drainage holes. Stop watering once the catchment tray has filled and the soil is moderately saturated (but never soggy). If any roots were exposed during the watering, sprinkle a bit more potting mix on top.
Add a diluted kelp solution to this water to help prevent transplant shock and provide extra micronutrients for the pothos to thrive.
Anyone who has transplanted vegetable starts into their garden will recognize the houseplant repotting process as very familiar.
The key to a seamless transition for your pothos plant is adequate preparation and :
- Assess your plant’s health and take proper action.
- Choose a container that is 2-3 times the size of the root ball.
- Check that there are enough drainage holes in the container.
- Choose a well-drained potting mix.
- Fill the new pot halfway.
- Place the pothos in the new pot and keep the soil level the same.
- Backfill the hole with soil, but don’t compact.
- Provide a generous watering until water flows out the bottom of the container.
Now, find a home for your plant that receives bright indirect sunlight and stays between 70 and 80°F. Once you’ve found the perfect place for your pothos, you’ll be sure to get many more years of life out of your plant with a little TLC.