Cacti are one of the most popular houseplants for a reason: they’re easy to care for and they add a touch of the desert to any home. But even cacti need a little TLC from time to time, and that means being repotted.

If you’ve never done it before, repotting a cactus can seem daunting. After all, those sharp spines look like they could do some serious damage. But don’t worry, with a little know-how and some careful planning, you can repot your cactus without getting hurt. In this blog post, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about repotting a cactus, from choosing the right pot to dealing with those pesky spines. By the end, you’ll be an expert at repotting cacti – and your cactus will be happier and healthier for it.

When To Repot A Cactus

A cactus should be repotted when it has outgrown its current pot or when the potting mix has degraded and needs to be replaced. Depending on the size and type of cactus, this can be every one to five years.

If you’re not sure if either of these applies to your cactus yet, here are some ways to know for sure:

  • Look at the bottom of the pot. If you can see roots through the drainage holes, it has likely outgrown its container.
  • If the cactus is leaning, or it is falling over, the plant is getting too big and needs a bigger pot to support it.
  • If the soil is over 3-4 years old and doesn’t look like vibrant, healthy soil anymore, then it has likely degraded too much to give your cactus any more nutrients and should be replaced with new cactus soil.

Don't worry, with a little know-how and some careful planning, you can repot your cactus without getting hurt.

Tools Needed For Repotting A Cactus

To repot your cactus, you’ll first want to gather the right tools. This will help the process go much smoother and prevent you from getting injured!

Pots or Containers

The first thing you will need is a new pot or container that is slightly larger than the one your cactus is currently in. Aim for a pot or container that is 2” larger. If the pot is too big, the roots will not be able to effectively use all the water in the pot, and the water will sit there too long, increasing chances of root rot and other problems.

Make sure your pot or container has drainage holes in the bottom so that water can drain out. It’s also important to choose one that’s made of a material that doesn’t absorb water. That way, the roots won’t stay wet for too long and they won’t rot.

Potting Mix

When choosing a potting mix, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when repotting a cactus. First, make sure that the potting mix is well-draining. Cacti like their roots to be dry, so a potting mix that drains quickly is ideal. Second, use a light potting mix. A heavy potting mix can compact around the roots of the cactus and cause problems with drainage. Third, add some organic matter to the potting mix. This will help to provide nutrients for the cactus as it grows.

Protective Gloves

Cacti are beautiful, unique plants that make great additions to any home. But, because they have sharp spines, they can be tricky to repot without getting hurt, so you will need a pair of thick gloves that will protect your hands and fingers. We recommend leather or thick gardening gloves. 

How to repot A Cactus – A Step by Step Guide

Here is exactly how to repot your cactus without getting hurt, and without hurting your plant.

  1. Prepare the new pot with just a little bit of new soil at the bottom, no more than 1-2 inches of soil.
  2. Gently remove your cactus from its current pot by grabbing around the base of the plant with your gloved hands and pulling the pot down. Depending on how stubborn your cactus is being, it might be helpful to “rock” the pot down, or twist it until it lets go of the soil and breaks free.
  3. Clean off all the current soil so you can thoroughly inspect the roots. You may need some water to rinse it off, but remember not to drench the roots, because cacti dislike too much water.
  4. Place your cactus in the new pot and fill in around it with more cactus mix, making sure not to compact the roots. You’ll essentially be “building up” the roots by holding the plant in place and placing soil around the roots without crushing them. Firmly press the mix around the base of the plant to secure it in place.
  5. Water deeply, then allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. Do not fertilize for six weeks to give your cactus plenty of time to adjust to its new home, and care for as you normally would.

Caring For Your Re-potted Cactus

Caring for your newly repotted cactus is as simple as caring for any cactus, but there are a few things to keep in mind. First and foremost, cacti are desert plants and thus require very little water. In fact, over-watering is one of the most common problems when caring for a cactus, so allow the soil to dry out completely before watering again. This could be 1-2 weeks, so don’t worry if you feel like it’s not getting watered enough. As long as it doesn’t show any other signs of under-watering, then you’re probably watering it right.

Second, cacti need plenty of sunlight in order to thrive. If you live in a cooler climate, you may need to provide your cactus with artificial light in order to ensure that it gets enough warmth and light. 

Third, cacti need well-draining soil in order to prevent root rot. Be sure to use a pot with drainage holes and add some gravel or sand to the bottom of the pot before adding the soil. Finally, be sure to protect your cactus from frost by bringing it indoors or covering it with a frost cloth if temperatures are expected to dip below freezing. 

By following these simple tips, you can ensure that your cactus stays healthy and happy for years to come!

FAQ How to Repot A Cactus

Can I repot a damaged cactus?

It’s not recommended to repot a cactus if it’s damaged, as this can further damage the plant. If you absolutely must repot a damaged cactus, be sure to do so carefully. Gently remove the plant from its pot and loosen any compacted soil around the roots. Rinse the roots off and replant in fresh, well-draining cactus mix. Be sure not to water for at least a week after repotting to give the plant time to recover.

A cactus is a rewarding plant to have, simply because it is one of the most low-maintenance plants you can own. Being able to repot your cactus will allow you to keep it healthy for many years. I hope this guide has helped give you the confidence to repot your cactus safely. If you’ve done it before, we would love to hear how it went!

Houseplant Resources

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