Ultimate Guide to Repotting Indoor Herbs

I recall my struggling days living as a tenant when my landlord’s kitchen spewed herby aromas daily at dinner.

When I darted his kitchen one day, I noticed his windowsill decorated with potted herbs. To have a similar kitchen at the time was impossible as my room was messy!

Soon after moving to Ohio, I attempted to set up an herby indoor garden, but I first needed good hands for repotting to sustain their verdure.

Generally, repotting indoor herbs needs a plastic or terracotta pot at least 6 inches deep and 4-10 inches wide. In early spring, uproot the herbs from the old container and gradually place the plants in new individual pots by adding soil from the sides to fill the empty spaces.

Image represents recently repotted indoor herb
Choose a wide container with appreciable depth and drainage holes to repot indoor herbs.

Herbs are flimsy, and growing them indoors is easy, as they need the proper care, the correct pots, fine soil, and steady hands for repotting.

To learn about the repotting methods of herbs, continue reading and discover the secrets to keeping a personal space with your herby kitchen or garden!

Reasons to Repot Indoor Herbs

All herbs grow with separate maintenance and demand different daily basic requirements.

In this sense, they may also require repotting care when the time is right.

Repotting is necessary to replenish nutrients, give a comfy space for root growth, prevent compact soil conditions, and deter root-related diseases.

Image represents the process of repotting indoor herbs
Transplanting indoor herbs from smaller to larger pots will help their roots to grow freely and control root-related illness.

People think repotting is like granting the herbs a new container to grow in by replacing the old one.

But repotting can also mean providing fresh soil to your herbs without changing the planters.

Similarly, most herbs have a delicate and fragile root system.

If danger lingers around their roots, it may later cause other problems for your plant.

Also, indoor herbs are not robust like their outdoor peers because they are delicately fostered with love.

So, let’s look at some reasons to repot your indoor herbs.

  • Roots of indoor herbs may tangle up and become messy over time. So, repotting helps the roots to grow freely in a more spacious container.
  • Old soil may spawn pest infestation, causing root rot. Protect your herbs from this peril by transplanting them to new soil.
  • Minerals may leach out from the old soil due to spontaneous watering sessions. Give your herbs a fresh dose of a nutrient-rich mix while reporting the herbs.
  • Delicate roots of herbs need fluffy soil to spread, as compact soil may hinder the root’s reach and halt their growth. So, new soil is the best option to save their roots.

When to Repot Indoor Herbs?

It’s advisable not to disturb indoor herbs when flowering or fruiting.

Also, dormant winter is not a good time either, as most of their daily routine is at a halt, and they cannot overcome repotting stress.

Early spring is the right time to repot. It is the peak growing season for herbs, so they can smoothly revitalize from physical tenseness.

Image represents the growth of an indoor herb.
Most indoor herbs show quick growth and fill the space of kitchen slabs with dense foliage.

Indoor herbs have tender stems, roots, leaves, and a relatively short lifespan than shrubs or trees.

So, a brief lifecycle means herbs can grow fast and occupy the pots in your kitchen counters.

They can not even heal from minor injuries like other large, sturdy plants.

When herbs need a repot, they show some alarming signs, which you must consider. 

  • Indoor herbs may need a new pot when they overwhelm the old one with their shaggy growth.
  • If the potting soil becomes compact, water retentive, and starts smothering the roots, think about getting a new mix for your herbs.
  • Consider getting a new pot or soil if the leaves lose their vigor and fade to yellow.
  • When the roots poke out from the drainage holes and topsoil, it’s time to give some additional space to your plants.

What Size Pot do Indoor Herbs Need?

Pot size depends on the type of herb you are growing. Some herbs, such as dill, parsley, or cilantro, have a long tap root requiring additional pot depth.

Other herbs, such as chives, rosemary, or thyme, have more extensive roots that can spread very well but barely reach deep below the topsoil.

This is a solvable issue if you take a general pot with enough size to keep your herbs manageable for more than two years.

Terracotta pots are good for dry soil, while plastic pots are perfect for herbs preferring moist soil.

Terracotta or plastic pots around 4-10 inches wide and at least 6 inches deep, with basal drainage holes, are well-suited for many herbs.

Image shows a terracotta pot with drainage hole
If the containers have drainage holes, you can use all pots for repotting indoor herbs.

If you are growing herbs beside a kitchen window sill, I don’t recommend a pot below 4 inches wide.

While growing herbs outdoors, you may need about 12-18 inches wide pots with ample drainage holes.

However, consider a two inches wider and deeper pot than the last one while repotting the herbs.

Plus, the herbs will appreciate it if you give them individual pots without neighbors.

Overcrowding too many herbs in a single pot may lead to nutrient deficiency, tangling of roots, disease spread, and competition for light and water.  

What Type of Soil do Indoor Herbs Need?

Since herbs have fragile roots, a well-draining but equally water-retentive soil is essential.

Similarly, the soil texture must be uncluttered, with optimal pH levels.

You may consider digging up some garden soil for this purpose, but it’s your biggest mistake!

Normal garden soil is heavy, dense, and dries quickly. It also lacks aerating components and is organically poor without a proper pH level.

Image represent a bag full of normal garden soil
Normal garden soil is not worth repotting, but amending it with organic and draining materials can easily elevate its uses for transplanting herbs.

So, it’s ideal for taking a head start and buying a potting mix for indoor herbs before repotting.

The best mixes for repotting indoor herbs are Miracle-Gro Indoor Potting Mix, Espoma Organic Potting Soil Mix, and Burpee Natural Organic Premium Mix.

If you don’t have access to a commercial mix, you can prepare your own by gathering some household leftovers.

Take coconut coir or peat moss, cow dung (compost), perlite, and normal topsoil in a ratio of 1:1:1:1.

Blend the mix with distilled water to moisten it fairly, then use it for repotting.

Proper Ways of Repotting Indoor Herbs

Proper repotting requires careful planning and tools to do the job correctly.

Not to forget the viable season, early spring (beginning of March). Check the table to get an idea about the supplies and their specifications for repotting.

ToolsSpecifications
Gardening GlovesTo protect the hands while repotting
ScissorsTo cut the leaves or dead tissues from the herbs
DisinfectantsTo clean the pruning tools
TrowelTo loosen the root ball
KnifeTo cut open the root ball

After you are done, follow the consecutive steps mentioned below!

Step 1: Get the Herbs Ready

Preparing your herbs before repotting is essential as it will aid you in removing the plant effortlessly from the old container.

To do this, thoroughly water your herbs 1-2 days before repotting.

Apply normal distilled water to soak the soil layers up to the pot’s depth. Later, the entire soil in the pot loosens a bit, and the root ball easily slips out.

Step 2: Remove the Herbs from Old Container

After 1-2 days, the root ball becomes loose, which you can remove easily.

  • Take a trowel and work from the sides where the soil attaches to the inner side of the pot.
  • After the soil loosens up, remove the upper layers of the soil.
  • Gently grab the plant from the stem and pull it out from the pot.
Image represents the root ball of rosemary plant (an indoor herb)
Make vertical cuts along the sides of the herb’s root ball to free up the tangled roots.
  • If the plant is stubborn, invert the pot and tap from the base down lower to the ground. This way, the plant will safely escape from the pot with a wholesome root ball.
  • Take sterilized scissors and remove the plant’s dried leaves, stems, or damaged parts.

Step 3: Prepare the Root Ball

Prepare the root ball freeing the roots from the soil lumps and entanglement.

This assists the roots to roam better under the soil and grab the nutrients usefully after repotting in fresh soil.

  • Break the root ball from the bottom after you make 3-4 vertical cuts using a knife from the sides of the root ball.
  • Trim the heavily tangled roots with scissors and free them from knots.
  • Avoid snipping away the main tap root and cut along the lateral roots.
  • If there are any diseased or brown tissues, spray disinfectant on the scissors, and use it to remove them too.
  • Following this, run the roots under an affable tap water to remove the attached soil.

Step 4: Prepare the New Pots

Using old or new pots makes a difference here.

Old pots may carry pathogen spores that harm your newly potted herb, while new pots may require additional preconditions.

  • Remove the bits of old soil with a clean cloth if it’s an old container.
  • Take the container and check if the drainage holes are clogged with soil.
  • Wash the pot with rain or distilled water and phosphate-free detergent.
  • Dry it under the sun and then use it to repot.
  • Drainage holes of new pots may be jammed with the dirt during delivery. So, remove them before repotting.
  • Smudge a thin layer of the fungicide in the inner walls of the pot to protect the repotted herbs from pathogens.

Step 5: Place the Herbs into the New Pots

You can follow these steps to transplant the herbs into the new pot.

  • Place a layer of potting mix at the base of the pot and firm the area with your knuckle.
  • Hold the herbs at the center of the pot and add soil to fill the pot from the sides.
  • Keep tapping the pot from the outside to evenly distribute the soil to plug the empty spaces around the plant.
  • With each layer of the soil you add, keep firming the following layers with your knuckles.
  • Add soil up to an inch below the rim of the pot.
  • Place a saucer below the pot and keep it near the kitchen windowsill.
Image showcases the newly repotted indoor herbs
Indoor herbs may show slow growth immediately after repotting but will catch up with their development in a few weeks.

Although many growers water their herbs following transplanting, I personally don’t recommend doing it.

The transplanted herbs need some time to heal after all the snipping and cutting.

However, you can lightly spray some water to moisten the topsoil.

Moreover, your plant may show sluggish growth for a few days and take some time to perk up from the repotting stress.

But you can observe them recovering anywhere from one week to a month.

Learn the process of repotting your precious herbs by watching this short video!

Tips to Take Care of Repotted Indoor Herbs

Once established in their new pot, indoor herbs may require additional care. 

So, it’s important to consider all the primary basic needs of your herbs!

  • Place the herbs near a kitchen windowsill or any room with southern sun exposure. This way, the herbs will get 6-8 hours of direct sunlight.
  • You can also grow the herbs under white fluorescent grow lights for 12-14 hours about 0.5-1 foot away if dull sunlight enters the house.

Dill, Parsley, Mint, Thyme, etc., are some common herbs that easily forgive low-light conditions.

  • Rotate the pots in a few hours to ensure that each side of the plants gets an equal amount of sunshine.
Image represents growing indoor herbs under grow lights
Grow lights help grow indoor herbs if the sunlight entering the house is weak.
  • Schedule the daytime temperature around 18-22°C and maintain the night temperature within 12-18°C.
  • Keep close eyes on a thermometer to serve the herbs with the correct temperature regimes.
  • Maintain humidity levels of more than 50% indoors. Group the pots to sustain humidity levels for the plants if the indoor air is dry.
  • Alternatively, place the pots on a pebble tray filled with water so that water evaporates from below and cools down your herbs in summer.
  • Open windows to let cool draft flow inside and circulate your herbs. Avoid this in late spring, summer, and fall.
  • Consider watering your herbs once a week in spring and fall, once in ten days, or two weeks in summer.
  • Use a low dose of 25% diluted liquid NPK fertilizer once a month or during the watering schedule of indoor herbs.
  • Flush the salts from the soil once in 2-3 months by running warm tap water through the potting soil 4-5 times if there is overfertilization.
  • To avert pest or disease infestation, use neem oil sprays once a week when the infection is noticeable.
  • Prune the herbs to remove dried or damaged parts in early spring when the herbs actively show vegetative growth.
  • Place the indoor herbs outside in warmer months to let them adapt to outdoor conditions. Locate the plants in partial shade for a few days and relocate them under the sun.

Conclusion

Indoor herbs can fill your heart and kitchen with a sweet aroma.

If you consider having a small indoor herbal garden, repot them on time and choose the right container with soil.

Furthermore, take of their roots while repotting and providing the necessary care after transplanting.

Choosing the right indoor herbs can bring a sense of satisfaction to your nose and welcome an energizing home scape.

Trailing indoor herbs look brilliant on hanging baskets, but have you considered the type of pots to use? Get the right pot for your favorite herbs ASAP!

Happy Gardening!

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