Repotting cacti – best care for succulents

Pain-free tips for repotting cacti to keep your plants healthy all year round.

repotting cacti

Ideally, you should be repotting cacti every year to provide fresh compost and room to grow. This is also an ideal time to inspect the roots for diseases such as root mealy bug.

A good way of handling spiny cacti during repotting without breaking the spines is to wrap a roll of newspaper or paper towel round the sides of the plant. This may be kept in place if required by elastic bands or a wire twist tie.

Pain-free tips for repotting cacti

If the spines become entangled, wetting the paper will make it easier to remove, and small bits can be taken off the spines with tweezers. ‘Old hands’ often handle plants with bare hands during repotting by distributing the weight on the hands between as many spines as possible. However, this is not recommended with Opuntia Sp. as the fine spines (glochids) will break off and become embedded in the skin, or with Mammillaria species with ‘fish-hook’ spines that tend to catch in the skin.

When repotting cacti, invert the plant and tap the rim of the pot against the bench or with a piece of wood to loosen the pot from the compost. Inserting a piece of cane into the hole in the pot may help this process, but beware of damaging plants with fleshy or tuberous roots. If the plant is in a plastic or other flexible pot, squeezing the pot gently may help to loosen the root ball. As a last resort, it is better to break the pot to free a compacted root ball rather than damage the plant.

examine cacti roots - repotting cacti
Examine plant roots before repotting cacti.

Remove the pot and clear away the old compost from the roots, keeping an eye out for pests. Use a thin stick or plant label to tease out the roots and remove old soil. If you see white fluffy patches in the soil and tiny insects, similar in shape to woodlice, but about 2 mm long these are root mealy bugs. If you find any pests, remove or wash off as much soil as possible, and soak in systemic insecticide, preferably one containing dimethoate.

Repot the plant into a new pot, which should be a little larger than the old one (perhaps 1 cm extra all round) if the plant has grown to fit its old pot. Replace fairly dry new compost around the roots and allow the plant to rest for about two weeks before watering to allow broken roots to heal.

If you found Repotting cacti – best care for succulents helpful, you’ll find more common sense repotting tips on our Gardening channel.

Reproduced courtesy of succulent-plant.com

Tags: , Last modified: March 24, 2022

Written by 8:32 am Gardening, Home & Lifestyle

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