Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Time for the Cacti Re-Pot!

Cacti grow very slowly, bloom once a year if at all, and basically, prefer to be left alone.
"Fluffpuff" in bloom, MR
Nevertheless, it's good to thoroughly re-pot them once every two years. They can keep their old pots, but the soil will be worn out and need replacement. I keep track by re-potting during the summers of odd years.
The set-up.
The necessaries are: plasticised or other very tough gloves; cactus soil, homemade or store-bought, a stick or spoon to help pry out stuck cacti and to tamp in the new soil, and attractive gravel for the top. I also use orchid clay pebbles to line the bottom of the pots, but that's not necessary. So let's start!
Cactus out of pot.
I remove the cactus from the pot and knock out the old dirt. You can see the old dirt clinging to the root ball here. If it's not knocked off the roots at least in part, the cactus probably won't grow into the new soil and the repotting is wasted and the cactus won't grow. On the other hand, you don't want to just tear up and remove the roots, either, so go slow and gentle.
What's at the bottom.
I clean its pot, throw out the old soil, and add a thin layer of orchid pebbles, made of clay, to the bottom of the pot. This keeps soil from, well, soiling the shelf where the cactus lives.
Remember your gloves for this bit!
Using the thick glove, I hold the cactus upright and fill in the pot with new cactus soil. I've tried about three types of commercial soil and the only one I like is Espoma, which is wonderful. I also make my own. There are all sorts of recipes on the Internet so you can take your pick and experiment.
Once the soil is in, I tamp it down gently and add attractive gravel to the top. This acts as a mulch and looks nice, too. Then I brush off the cactus and pot, and it's ready for the next two years! I don't water them for a few days (some people say up to 10) because of the inevitable root damage during re-potting. The dry days give the damaged roots a chance to heal.
Mammillaria with new soil. Ah!
And that's it!


  1. Very nice tutorial Marla. And yes, this is the best time for transplanting most cacti and other succulents. Perfect growing conditions for most of us here in the Northern Hemisphere. I hope to begin my needed repotting over the next week or so. However, I won't have the wonderful pots that you have. They're just great. :)

  2. I enjoy repotting the cacti on a sunny morning, unless I mess up with the gloves! ;-) Thank you for the compliment on the pots!