How Your Plant is Telling You It’s Time to Repot (with Pictures!)

It’s Spring!! Whoo hoo! Our plants are growing and many of them may be showing signs that they need a bigger home.

Are there ways that we can tell whether a plant really needs to be repotted? Absolutely!

In today’s post, I’ll show you how a few of my plants provided definitive signs that it was time for a repot.

First, see pictures of the plants above soil and what the signs are that they need a repot.

Then we will take the plant out of its pot and see what the roots look like!

These particular plants were in need of a repot for a while now so the signs are extra obvious, making them perfect to show you what to look for when a plant is telling you it is time.

Here we go!

This idea came to me while repotting a bunch of my plants. You’ll notice the pictures are messy and disorganized because I had already been repotting a huge amount.

Rather than try to make things pretty for the blog, I just grabbed my phone and took pictures as life was so you could see what I was seeing and hopefully benefit from the information. Please try to ignore the mess in the background. 🙂

Table of Contents

Plant #1: Anthurium clarinervium hybrid*

Anthurium clarinverium hybrid

My Anthurium clarinervium hybrid was drying out much more rapidly than it had been previously.

It then started to yellow its lowest leaf (which can be completely normal as older leaves do naturally die off over time).

But yellowing leaves along with being drier than normal can be a sign that the plant isn’t getting the water that it needs so it is absorbing the water from its oldest leaves to try to sustain itself.

Then my anthurium began to flower, which can be another sign that the plant is stressed from drought. If a plant thinks that it may be in trouble, it may send up a flower in an attempt to propagate itself so that if it dies it will have reproduced beforehand.

And finally, many of the lower leaves began to droop a little from continually sitting on the dry side. Anyone who grows anthuriums knows that these plants do not appreciate living on the dry side.

This was a real bummer for me as this plant had a gorgeous growth habit going and I should have repotted it sooner.

Notice that I say all of these are possible signs (“can be signs”) because the truth is that any of them can be normal or caused by other things. However, these signs stacked up with each other to tell me a story that this plant was VERY ready for a larger pot.

Here’s what the roots looked like after I removed the plant from the pot:

Check out those roots

*I bought this plant as Anthurium clarinervium (the Velvet Cardboard Anthurium), but the space between the sinus** on many of the leaves leads me to believe that it is probably a hybrid? If anyone happens to have thoughts on this, let me know!

**The sinus is the area between the lobes or the curves at the tops of the heart leaf.

My understanding is that usually A. clarinervium’s lobes touch and even overlap a tiny bit. My plant doesn’t really touch or overlap on any leaf except one. I am not an expert though so don’t quote me!


Plant #2: Anthurium veitchii, the King Anthurium

Anthurium veitchii

Anthurium veitchii was also more rapidly drying out, a telltale sign that it may be time for a bigger house.

In addition, the edges of its leaves began to crisp. This can happen when humidity is low to humidity-loving plants such as anthuriums. However, I knew that wasn’t the case here because the humidity has actually been on the rise in Spring. The problem was that the plant was getting too dry.

Additionally, Anthurium veitchii has been growing a new leaf and the leaf didn’t smoothly unfurl in one place, creating a deformity. I’m pretty sure this was due to a lack of moisture and if the plant were more consistently moist it would have done much better.

Anthurium veitchii

Here’s what the roots looked like upon removal:

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Anthurium veitchii roots, I love the hot pink root!
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Plant #3: Ficus shivereana

Ficus Shivereana

Ficus shivereana was also drying out very quickly and would be so very dry each time I watered.

It was losing a lot of lower leaves, but because it had more leaves to lose I didn’t jump on this one as rapidly as I did my anthuriums.

Ficus Shivereana

You can also see in the pictures that the newer leaves are no longer getting bigger, they are getting smaller.

This can be a sign of both needing a larger pot or being nutrient deficient.

My little rubber tree is likely ready for some more slow-release fertilizer, but it probably isn’t very nutrient deficient. It is much more likely to be pot-bound and in need of a larger home.

Ficus Shivereana

I forgot to take a photo of the roots on this one, but the problem here was primarily that the soil had compacted a lot! Not as much as the root system was so overgrown for the pot.

So I broke up the compacted soil, did give it a larger home because the roots were established enough to do so, and it has been happy since.

I thought about taking it out of the new pot to photograph the roots for the post, but I couldn’t bring myself to do it. It doesn’t feel very nice to put it through the whole repotting process and then take it out again only to take a photo. Haha.

Plant #4: Anthurium crystallinum/magnificum x ‘Doc Block F2’

Anthurium crystallinum/magnificum x ‘Doc Block F2’

By now you might be able to see some patterns, so I will tell you more briefly:

This anthurium was:

  • Drying out more rapidly
  • Crisping at the edges
  • Yellowing lower leaves to attempt to get water it needs that it wasn’t getting at the root level

So I knew that it was definitely time to repot.

Here’s what I found when I took it out of the pot:


It is definitely time for a repot. Yikes!

In Summary

Individual issues such as yellowing leaves or crisping at the edges do not necessarily mean that the plant needs to be repotted. It could be other causes such as underwatering, pests, nutrient deficiency, hard water sensitivity, or lack of humidity.

However, when you start seeing a few of these signs in conjunction with one another you can use these as clues that it’s time to repot.

Are you repotting any plants this season?

Side note: It isn’t great to neglect your plants as much as I have here. But with a new baby and a very sick toddler who needed tubes after 6 months of ear infections, repotting plants wasn’t in the cards.

I basically repotted and maintained none of my plants last year. So this year many, many plants needed repotting. One downside of having a very large plant collection.

All my plants are slowly getting the love they deserve now though!

I’ve never repotted more plants in my life. Truly.

But I am getting toward the end of what I need to repot now and seeing a lot of my plants looking happier and healthier, so the hard work over the last couple of months is paying off.

The good news is I do find repotting incredibly relaxing and zen. I hope you do too.

Happy growing! See you next week!


10 Easy Ways to Know Your Plant Needs to be Repotted

Why are Your Houseplant’s Leaves Turning Yellow?

How to Identify 7 Types of Nutrient Deficiency in Houseplants


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