Repotting cacti can seem daunting, especially if you’re not sure about when or where to start. The typically spiny plants, such as prickly pear, are spiky, and it’s dangerous to handle them the same way you do other plants. While some varieties, such as holiday cactus, have fleshy, flat stems and smooth spines, they’re still fragile when it comes to repotting, similar to succulents.
No matter what type of cactus you have, they make a beautiful addition to your home. They’re attractive in their simplicity as a low-maintenance houseplant perfect for a sunny windowsill. While handling cacti is difficult, repotting them perfectly is easy once you have the right tips, tools, and knowledge.
Tools You’ll Need
To properly repot cacti plants, there are a few tools you’ll need. Fortunately, the list of essentials consists of items that most home gardeners already own.
- Rubber-coated gardening gloves
- Cactus soil
- Pot with drainage
When and Why To Repot Cacti
In general, cactus plants don’t require repotting too often since they tend to be slow growers. With that said, roots peeking out of the drainage holes, or a cactus that appears top heavy in comparison to its home, are signs it’s time to repot. A root-bound cactus struggles to absorb nutrients, causing it to have issues growing and surviving.
If it seems that your plant hasn’t grown in a while, it may be time to inspect the roots and determine if it needs repotting. As with other plants, the general rule is to repot your plants annually to refresh the soil. If the plant doesn’t need to go up a size, you can simply replace the soil.
You can repot cacti in either spring or summer, but spring is best since the plant will have just come out of dormancy. Morning is best for repotting since it gives the plants time to adjust before the afternoon heat sets in.
How To Repot Cacti
Step 1: Preparation
Before you can get to repotting the cacti, you’ll need to prepare your tools and the plant itself. Start by selecting a pot. When it comes to repotting because of growth, you’ll need a pot one size up unless the roots are so bound that two sizes up seems best.
The pot needs at least one drainage hole, and materials such as terracotta and clay are best since they are moisture-wicking. If your planter is a high-quality material with a drainage hole and you are routinely repotting rather than looking for a size up, you can use the same pot. Otherwise, find a new container that is the same size with the right qualities for potting a cactus.
Finally, don’t forget to protect yourself. Slip on a pair of rubber-coated gardening gloves since the spines easily poke through the fabric. Optionally, you can carefully wrap the cactus in newspaper to further protect your hands. It is only necessary if the cactus is a spiky variety. Also, you can lay newspaper on your workspace to make clean-up easier.
Step 2: Repot the Cacti
With the pot picked out and your protective gear applied, it’s time to get to repotting. Cacti prefer well-draining potting media, such as soil specifically made for cactus plants or a mixture of peat, garden soil, and sand. Fill the bottom of the new pot with fresh soil, about a quarter of the way full.
Then, gently remove the cactus from its container, holding the pot in one hand and pulling from the base of the plant with another. Inspect the roots carefully and remove any brown or mushy roots, which could be a sign of root rot, with a clean and sharp pair of pruning shears.
Gently loosen the root ball and remove most of the old soil. Place the plant in the new pot and top it with more fresh soil. Gently tap the bottom of the planter on a solid surface to ensure there are no air pockets.
Finish the repotting process by watering the plant and placing it in a well-lit location out of bright, direct sunlight. After two weeks, continue watering your cactus as you usually would.
Cactus Makes Perfect
In the end, repotting your cactus plants is as easy as pie! And with a little practice and a pair of protective gloves, if the plants are spiky, your plants will continue thriving healthy. Repotting your cacti plants gives them room to grow bigger and healthier, and it also replenishes nutrients in the soil.
Do you have any tips for repotting cacti? Share in the comments below!