There are two things that we hear in the shop every day without fail: “how do I keep my fresh cut flowers alive?”, and “please tell me why I keep killing my succulents!”
Oftentimes, it all goes awry when people embark on repotting succulents at home. It always makes us sad to see another poor succulent skeleton brought back into the shop for a refresh, so today we’re sharing our best practices for successful repotting to keep them looking happy and healthy for as long as possible! Check out our succulent care repotting tips below.
Repot at the right time
It’s important to pay attention to your plants’ growth cycles when considering repotting (this is a rule of thumb for all of your houseplants!) You should repot at the beginning of the succulent’s growth period, as repotting during the dormancy period could disrupt their growing cycle. Spring or fall are usually the best repotting times. If your succulent’s roots are growing out of the bottom of the pot or the plant looks far too large for its current vessel, it’s time for an upgrade!
Choose the right pot
Always repot in a pot that is a bit larger than the old one, and choose one with a drainage hole. Succulents - and especially cacti - don’t like sitting in standing water. A drainage hole ensures that even if you accidentally overwater, at least the excess water won’t stay trapped, creating an unfavorable swamp at the roots. Set on using that perfect pot you found, even though it doesn’t have a drainage hole? No worries, we completely understand! Line the bottom with rocks so you have a drainage buffer, and be extra careful when watering the succulents. Choose rocks that are on the larger side - think grape-sized.
Pot with the right soil
Succulents are adapted to dry climates with rocky, sandy soil. So plopping them into your average garden soil is not going to be a recipe for happy plants! Use well-draining soil or cactus mix that is crumbly and sandy, with a variety of particle sizes to ensure it stays well-aerated.
Unless you plan on hand-mixing your soil, stay away from soils that have a bunch of organic matter such as peat moss, coconut fibers, or bark. These are common elements that are great for many houseplants but retain too much water for more delicate succulents. Instead, look for soils that have minerals like pumice or perlite. There are a lot of great succulent soil options that you can explore! We like Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, & Citrus Mix, which we combine and mix with coarse sand and perlite.
Now that we’ve got the basics covered, see below for a step-by-step succulent repotting guide!
Step 1: Remove the plant from the old pot
If the plant is still in its plastic grower’s pot, this is a bit easier. Tip the pot on its side and gently crush it down with your palm or forearm. You want to compress and loosen the soil so that you can softly shake or slide the plant out. If it’s already in a ceramic pot, carefully use a trowel or your hands to loosen the soil until you can slide the plant out. Be careful not to damage the root system!
When repotting prickly cactus, we highly recommend wearing thick, latex-dipped garden gloves and using tongs to handle them.
Step 2: Loosen the plant roots
This will encourage new root growth and help shake away any old soil. Gently crumble soil away from the root system until most of the old soil is clear, but the roots are still intact.
Step 3: Place in your new pot
Place the plant on top of the new soil, making sure it’s centered in the pot and the base of the plant is just short of flush with the edge of the pot. Add your potting mix around all sides of the plant, but don’t compress or pack the soil too tightly! You want it to be loose enough for proper aeration.
Step 4: Water (and decorate!) your freshly potted succulent
Give your succulent slightly more water than usual after a repotting. We love finishing our cacti and succulent pots with a layer of beautiful white sand for a clean look, or with elegant crystals like clear quartz or desert rose.
And there you have it! A professional repotting that can be done at home.
Looking for the perfect vessel for your new succulent? Click to shop our best pots for succulents.