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How and When to Repot a Cactus

Cacti are generally simple to care for. A little water and sunshine, and your cactus is sure to thrive, even if your thumb is not the greenest.

Along with regular watering, fertilizing, and a sunny seat by a window, your plant will also need the occasional repotting to allow for growth.

If your cactus has been living in the same pot for more than two years, it may be time to repot.

1. Grab Some Gloves

Start by putting on a pair of gardening gloves (these gloves are great!) and wrap your cactus in cloth or newspaper if it is particularly spiny.

2. Inspect Your Cactus

Investigate your plant for signs that repotting is required.

Take a look underneath the container. If you can see roots growing out of the drainage holes, it is time to relocate your cactus to a larger pot.

If your container does not have drainage holes, or if you do not see roots, gently pull the plant out of the pot.

If the roots are beginning to curl around the base or edges of the pot, your plant is getting pot bound. This means the roots have run out of space to stretch and grow and are beginning to wind back over on themselves.

The best time to repot is in early spring when your cactus is awakening from winter dormancy.

3. Choose a New Pot


Select a pot that is about 2” larger than your current container and has drainage holes.

Do not water your cactus before repotting it.

Spread a layer of rocks or broken pot shards to provide ample drainage. You can even use styrofoam, as it does not decompose and will not harm your plant. This is especially useful if you have a large pot, and rocks will make it impossibly heavy.

Cover the drainage layer with a layer of dry potting soil. Choose a soil blend that is intended for cacti and succulents. (This organic cacti mix is amazing!)

It should contain perlite, coconut coir, or peat moss to allow for faster drainage. You may also mix sand with regular potting soil in a 1:1 ratio if you do not have cactus soil available.

4. Re-Home Your Cactus


Once your plant’s new home is prepared, carefully remove your cactus from the old pot. Be sure not to damage the spines (or let them damage you) or the roots.

Try to separate tangled roots that have curled around the pot, if possible.

Gently place your cactus in the new container, and add more dry soil around the root ball. Mix a little of the old soil with the new soil as you fill.

Pack down the soil gently with your fingertips, but do not add water.

Your cactus should not be any deeper than it was in the old pot, and the dirt should be about an inch below the top of the pot.

Water it in well, then wait about two weeks before you water your cactus again. Add more soil if the water compresses it down.

Your Cactus Will Love Its New Home

After you repot your cactus, you can continue to care for it as normal.

If your plant seems unhappy at first, do not despair. Some species need time to adjust to change. The roots will have added space to grow and fresh nutrients from the new soil.

Soon, you will see your cactus thrive in the new environment!


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