Sustainability made simple

How to Repot a Cactus Safely in 6 Steps

repot cactus
Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / suju-foto

While it might be easy to maintain cacti due to their low maintenance needs, knowing when to repot them can be tricky. Learn the signs and how to repot your cactus below.

Cacti are quite happy to stay in their pots for a few years before they show that they are in need of repotting, so it can be tricky to read the signs. Although similar to succulents, they do have some defining features that make them unique:

  • Cacti have bigger blooms, spiny needles, and hold their water inside their stems, whereas succulents hold water in their leaves.
  • Cacti can also produce fruit, such as prickly pear or dragonfruit.

Cacti that bear fruit are often more sustainable, and since they can survive in the changing climate, cacti are often considered to be a “miracle plant”. The most sustainable cacti are: barrel, dragonfruit, and cereus peruvianus.

Signs You Should Repot Your Cactus

Repot your cactus if it isn't growing at all.
Repot your cactus if it isn’t growing at all. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / suju-foto)

If your cactus is showing any of these telltale signs, it’s time to repot:

  • You can see roots: if you can see roots through the drainage hole or above the soil line, your cactus likely needs repotting. This is a clear sign that the plant has overgrown its pot and is no longer getting the nutrients it needs to thrive.
  • The plant is yellow or shrivelling: these are signs that the soil is not working for your cactus, and either needs to be changed or you need better drainage within the pot.
  • The plant has stopped growing: if you haven’t seen any new buds, you should repot your cactus. If the conditions are right for the cactus, it will keep growing inside its pot for a few years before it needs repotting, so if it hasn’t grown at all, it’s time to repot.
  • The cactus has been in the same pot for a long time: if you haven’t repotted in the last 2-4 years, your cactus is in need of a bigger pot and it’s time to repot.

How to Repot Your Cactus

Follow these simple tips to repot your cactus.
Follow these simple tips to repot your cactus. (Foto: CC0 / Pixabay / congerdesign)

If you’ve noticed that it’s time to repot your cactus, you’ll need the following items:

  • gardening gloves
  • trowel
  • new pot
  • cacti soil – always try to buy sustainable soil (like compost) to lessen the farming and agricultural impact

How to repot your cactus:

  1. Two to three days prior to repotting, water your cacti. This allows it to soak up the needed water and nutrients and will help it adapt to the new pot/soil.
  2. Prepare your new pot by adding pebbles to the bottom of the new pot and cacti soil that is well draining inside the new pot. Dampen the new soil.
  3. Gently remove the cacti from its pot by grasping the base of the plant and gingerly pulling it out of the soil.
  4. Check the roots for damage, brown spots, or wilting. Remove these sections carefully to ensure the roots are not damaged.
  5. Place the cacti inside the new pot and hold it upright while you add more soil to cover the sides. Make sure there are no air pockets inside the soil.
  6. Place the newly potted cacti in a brightly lit (but not in direct sun) for a few days before moving it into a bright, direct lighted area. This gives the roots time to establish their new home.

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