Lyn is a horticulturist and YouTuber with over 35 years of experience growing succulents and cacti.
How to Tell When Your Cacti and Succulents Need Repotting
Though they may seem sturdy and consistent most of the time, cacti and succulents still need a little TLC from time to time, including the occasional repotting. Here are six ways to tell if it's time to put your plant in a new pot.
1. The Roots Are Growing Out of the Pot
Now, this first one is obvious: if the roots start to come through the bottom of the pot, it's time to size up. This is a clear indication that it's time to pot on your cactus or succulent.
2. Your Plant Is Yellow or Shriveled
The second one is if you have a cactus or succulent and it's looking a little bit yellow or it's looking very shriveled. This can happen for two reasons:
- The soil is exhausted and needs changing.
- There are soil pests on the roots.
In either case, the first step is to get the cactus out of the pot. If there are no signs of soil pests, then pot it up in fresh soil. If there are soil pests, you'll need to treat them before potting your plant up again in fresh soil.
3. Your Plant Is Top-Heavy
The next sign is if a plant is too top-heavy. The Sansevieria 'Moonshine' pictured above is clearly overhanging—a classic example of a plant that is desperate to be potted into a new, bigger pot.
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4. You Just Bought It
The next sign your plant needs repotting is when you've just bought a new cactus or succulent, and that's because even though it might be in a lovely pot and it might look lovely how it is, you don't know what type of soil they've used or if there are any soil pests.
A lot of garden nurseries often use a lot of peat and other materials that aren't good for cacti and succulents, so any time you buy a new plant, it's a good idea to take it out of the pot, remove the old soil and pot it up into good-quality, well-draining cactus and succulent mix (here's how to make your own potting mix).
5. It's Been in the Same Pot for a Long Time
If you have a cactus or succulent whose soil hasn't been changed for a long time, say about five years, it's a good idea to repot it, even if that only means adding fresh soil (rather than swapping to a larger pot).
The plant might look healthy and the roots might not be coming through the bottom, but it's always good to give the soil a bit of a refresh. Refreshing the roots with fresh soil will give the plant a bit of a burst because soil does get exhausted over time.
6. Your Plant Has Stopped Growing
Lastly, if you have a cactus or a succulent that seems to have stopped growing, and you're not quite sure why (it's got the right amount of light and water, etc.), it's likely time to repot.
In these cases, the lack of growth could due to something going on with the root system. So this is another good opportunity to take it out of the pot and freshen up the soil, which often gives the plant a bit of a burst and encourages it to come into new growth again.
I hope you found those tips useful and now know when to repot your cacti and succulents. Have a wonderful plant-powered day!
More Cactus and Succulent Tips
- How to Repot a Cactus Without Getting Hurt
Step-by-step instructions on how to repot and safely handle cacti in your garden.
- How Cacti and Succulent Soil Is Different From Ordinary Potting Soil
What's the difference between regular potting soil and soil made for growing cacti and succulents? Does it even matter? Learn how to get the best results for all your plants, starting with soil!
- How to Repot a Christmas Cactus and Thanksgiving Cactus
With a few simple tips, Christmas and Thanksgiving cacti are quite easy to repot.
© 2021 Lyn Kimberley