You finally did it—you bought the tall, gorgeous bird of paradise you'd been eyeing at your local nursery. But now it's just sitting in your home in its thin, plastic nursery pot, because repotting a large plant is much more intimidating that you anticipated. Well, plant doctor and stylist Maryah Greene is here to help. "Roots are key to your plant's survival," she says. "You want to make sure you give your plant's roots attention when you first purchase it so that it has a greater chance of success." Here, she breaks down how to pot a large plant, plus how to water it in order to ensure it's healthy and thriving.
How to pot a large plant
Massage the plant in its nursery pot to help loosen up the soil.
Tilt the plant onto its side. Use scissors to cut your plant out of the nursery pot using one of the holes on the bottom as a starting point—be careful not to cut the roots. Have a garbage bag nearby to transfer the plant onto.
Carefully remove your plant from the nursery pot and place it on the bag. (This helps gather the old soil that you remove in the next step.)
Gently brush away as much soil as you can without damaging the roots of your plant. When the roots are elongated and no longer nestled into the shape of the nursery pot, you're good to move on to the next step.
Fill up about a third of your pot with soil. In the video above, Greene re-pots a Bird of Paradise, and she uses regular houseplant soil for tropical plants. "Do your research to make sure your soil has the proper drainage for your plant," she advises, adding that if your pot doesn't have a drainage hole, you will want to line the bottom with aeration or drainage stones to help prevent root rot.
Gently place your plant into its new pot, and add more soil if necessary. Leave about half an inch to an inch of room between the top of the soil and the rim of the pot.
How often to water your house plant
When coming up with a watering schedule for your plant, remember that larger plants stay moist for a longer period of time than smaller plants, because they have more soil. This means you may only need to water it once every three to four weeks.
If your pot has a drainage hole, Greene says it's almost impossible to overwater your plant because the excess will drain. However, if it doesn't have a drainage hole, she says to be very mindful of how much water you use. She recommends getting a watering can that's about the same size in volume as the pot. And while Greene says there's really no wrong way to water your plant, there certainly is a right way: "You want to make sure that you're evenly hitting all of the sides of it, that way each part of the soil is retaining the same amount of moisture." Et voila! Your new plant bby is ready to thrive.
Watch the video below for more pro tips on proper plant maintenance.