The time has come.

You need to repot your plant. Maybe it’s outgrown the pot. Maybe the soil needs a change. Or maybe it’s problem of pests or diseases.

But you see that your plant is dying after repotting and wonder what you can do about it.

Plant is dying after repotting because of transplant shock that causes stress. The roots may be damaged and unable to supply nutrients and moisture to the plant. The plant needs time to get used to the change in environment with sunlight, heat, and wind. It’s better to harden plant before repotting.

In this post, I’ll show you in details each of the problems that can cause your plant to die after repotting. I’ll also provide solutions on how to deal with these issues and revive the dying plant.

Let’s take a look.

Why is my plant dying after repotting?

There are a few reasons your plant might struggle after being repotted. Let’s look at some of the most common reasons. 

1. Plant has root damage

Sometimes, when you are repotting the plant, there is a chance that you will tear the roots. This can be a substantial issue, limiting the plants’ ability to take up valuable nutrients. The good news is that these roots can grow back over time, as long as you care for the plant properly. 

2. Plant is suffering from transplant shock

This is one of the most common reasons the plant is wilting after repotting. This is often a sign that the roots are struggling to cope with the new environment. They aren’t established enough to absorb water or nutrients yet. Plus, the plant will be more vulnerable to attack from diseases or poor weather. 

There are a few signs your plants might experience transplant shock, these can include: 

  • Discoloration of the leaves
  • Stagnation
  • Curling of the leaves
  • Lack of fruit 
  • A rise in the number of dead leaves

3. The soil is poor, or it has changed

Plants will need to adapt to suit the soil conditions that they are placed into. Because of this, if you suddenly change the type of soil, it will take them some time to adjust. 

Another problem is poor soil quality. Remember, the transplanting process can be very stressful for the plants. As they are growing new roots, they will need plenty of nutrients. If they can’t access these nutrients, it can stunt growth or lead to repotted plant dying.

If you find wilting, leaves drop right after repotting it is probably because of transplant shock, lack of water, or inability to absorb water by roots. Give the plant some time, if it still persists. – Vinayak Garg, Founder, Lazy Gardener

4. Underwatering or overwatering

You need to be conscious about the amount of water you are giving your plants. This is true both before and after you transplant them. Too much and you are at risk of drowning them, as they aren’t able to get enough oxygen. Too little and the roots will become dry. This raises the risk of transplant shock, making it harder for them to adjust to their new environment. 

holy basil wilting
My holy basil plant that was wilting due to underwatering

5. Lack of heat or too much heat

Getting the right temperature is also vital. If you aren’t in the preferred temperature zone, the root system will need to work harder to get water and nutrients. This will increase the amount of stress that the plant is under. 

6. Lack of sunlight or too much sunlight

Lack of sunlight caused my Red Amaranth seedlings to grow spindly and die

Getting sunlight is important for plants, even ones that are kept indoors. It’s needed for the photosynthesis process, allowing them to extract water and nutrients from the soil. Each species will have a preferred amount of sunlight. 

Too little and they won’t be able to photosynthesize properly. But too much and the plant can suffer from heat damage.  

Plants are often traumatized after being tranplanted. This is because delicate root hairs, which are responible for taking up water are damaged in the process. You can minimize this trauma by handling roots delicately and avoiding the tempatation to tamp down the soil. While you may feel as though you are tucking them in safely, you are damaging the roots. Instead, try mudding in your transplants, which simply means using water to reduce large air pockets. – Kate Russell, Gardener, The Daily Garden

7. Lack of nutrients or overfertilization

Like many other things on this list, plants will need nutrients to survive. They are particularly important after being transplanted, when the roots will need to grow and adapt to their new environment. 

But you can have too much of a good thing. If you apply too much fertilizer, there is a chance that you will end up burning the plants. This can stunt growth and leave the plants more vulnerable to insects or diseases. 

8. Pests are attacking the plant

Sometimes, the problem will be easy to spot. Pests are living in the soil. Depending on the species, they can chew through the roots or leaves. This increases the amount of stress the plants are under. Some of the most common pest species to look out for include:

9. Plant is suffering from diseases

Finally, the plant might be diseased. This can limit its ability to take up resources. You might also notice some unusual activities, like slime leaking out of the leaves or stem. There are three potential ways that this disease might occur. 

First, it might have existed prior to the transplant. The shock of the transplant might make the symptoms more obvious. In other cases, the issue might stem from the new soil that you are using. Third, the conditions in which you are storing the plant could benefit the pests. For example, gnats prefer damp soils. 

I conducted a poll with fellow gardeners on what issues they find causing a plant to die after repotting. Below are the results.

How do I revive a dying plant after repotting?

Seeing your plant struggling after the transplant can be terrible. Thankfully, there are a few ways that you can overcome this. What you do will often depend on the reason, or combination of reasons, why your plants are having transplant shock. 

1. Root Damage

It’s best to take preventative damage, preventing root damage before it occurs. When you first take out the plants, you’ll often find a tight root ball. Gently tease out the roots. You don’t need to separate them into individual strands, but you should spread them out. 

If you need to manipulate or cut the roots, it’s best to use sharp sears. This will reduce the damage, making it easier for the roots to recover. 

If there are still signs of root damage after the transplant, there are some actions that you can take. First, it’s a good idea to trim some of the top foliage. This will reduce the amount of nutrients that the plant will require to grow. 

Repotting can be a stressful time for a plant – depending on how much the roots have been disturbed it is normal to experience some short term impact on the plant. If the roots have been damaged, water uptake can be less efficient, so it’s important to pay closer than usual attention to the soil moisture – avoid too wet or too dry. If the plant is normally in a very bright or hot area, it may benefit from some time to recover in a less intensely lit space. – Robert Mercer, Director, Online Turf

2. Transplant Shock

There are a few tips you can use to minimize the transport shock. These include: 

  • Choosing the right time to transplant. If possible, try to transplant in the early spring or late fall. It’s also a good idea to transfer in the morning, rather than the heat of the day. 
  • Water properly. 
  • Remove any dead growth. 
  • Start with healthy plants. You don’t want to add stress to a plant that is already struggling, it could prove fatal. 

3. Change in Soil or Poor Soil

It’s best to replicate the type of soil the plants are used to. If you think that the soil might be the problem, you can do an NPK test. This will tell you the proportion of nutrients in the soil. If it isn’t what the species requires, you can add a fertilizer mix to adjust the balance. 

4. Underwatering or Overwatering

This issue is the easiest to address. When you make a transplant, you will need to give it a little more water than usual. Water it a day or two before you intend to transfer it. This will help loosen up the roots. Give it another drink after transplanting. This will help it get familiar with its new home. At this stage, it’s best to keep the roots moist. 

You want to make sure that you are using good drainage. You don’t want water to be sitting on top of the soil. 

5. Lack of Heat or Too Much Heat

As we mentioned, avoid making the transplant during the middle of the day. You don’t want to expose it to additional heat stress. Sometimes, you will move it to a different climate. In this case, introduce the plant to its new environment slowly. Start by placing it outside for a few hours at a time. Then, bring it back into the home, keeping it at a more familiar temperature. 

6. Lack of Sunlight or Too Much Sunlight

If the repotted plant does not get the required sunlight, it will not be able to create sufficient food due to lack of photosynthesis plant. A common sign that indicates lack of sunlight is plant drooping after repotting. If the plant is getting intense sunlight, you may see the leaves curling to protect themselves.

7. Lack of Nutrients or Overfertilization

When you first transplant the species, you’ll need to give them plenty of fertilizer. This gives the roots the nutrients they need to grow. It’s often best to use something that has a high level of phosphates combined with a low level of nitrates. You might even find some fertilizers that have been specially designed for transplanting. 

Another option is to mix some sugar into the water. This is a good way to boost the growth of plants, helping them recover from plant shock after repotting. You can apply at the point when you are transplanting them. 

8. Pests and Diseases

There are a few simple things you can do to lower the risks that pests and diseases will affect your plants. These include: 

  • Don’t get soggy soil. You want to make sure that you are keeping the soil moist. But you shouldn’t allow it to become soggy. Many pests will use this as a chance to breed. It also presents an opportunity for fungal diseases to take hold. 
  • Use neem oil. This is a good insecticide, killing any pests that are on the plant or in the soil. Spraying your plants with this once a week can be a good preventative measure. 
  • Try mosquito bits. We can sprinkle these through the soil. When you water, they release the chemicals. Though harmless to plants, they will be effective against a range of insect pests. 
  • Be selective about the soil. Check the soil that you are transplanting into. You don’t want to be using something that has already been infected. 
  • Isolate plants. If you notice a problem, quarantine the plant. This will stop it from spreading to every other plant in the house. 

How long does it take a plant to recover from repotting shock?

This will depend on the type of species you are transplanting. Most houseplants should bounce back within a few days. However, some species can take a few months. 

If you are transplanting a tree, it can be years before it overcomes the shock. A good rule of thumb is to measure the diameter of the trunk. Every inch corresponds to a year of transplant shock. 

In this area, it’s important to be patient. You just need to keep providing the water and nutrients it needs to survive. If you are doing this, it won’t be long before it overcomes the shock of repotting. From there, it will be able to grow strongly again, returning to its normal patterns. 

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