Cactus delights the eye with its other-worldly appearance and striking flowers, but it also requires repotting from time to time. Unfortunately, home gardeners often avoid this task, generally unsure how to do it or fear killing the plant. But the reality is that repotting a cactus is not all that difficult.
Here are some easy steps that will help you to repot your cactus:
Step 1: Find the Right Size Pot for Cactus
When it is time to repot a cactus, look for a pot about 2 inches (5 cm) larger than the one the cactus is currently in. If the pot is too large, the soil will stay wet longer than desirable for a cactus that likes heat and dry elements that are normal in the desert where it grows wild.
Step 2: Assemble Materials for Repotting Cactus
Have all the necessary materials on hand: potting soil, a larger pot, protective gloves or tongs to handle the cactus, and a bamboo skewer or long slender stick. It is also best to have a newspaper or protective covering on the bench or area where the repotting takes place.
A word about cactus soil is necessary. Most garden centers carry soil specially designed for growing cacti, a mixture of peat, perlite, horticultural vermiculite, and added nutrients. For a cactus garden, the right soil must be used.
Step 3: Spread a Small Amount of Soil in the New Container
Place a small amount of cactus soil in the bottom of the new pot.
Step 4: Remove Cactus from Old Pot
Wearing gloves and possibly a long-sleeved shirt, gently lift the cactus from the old pot if the cactus is large. Tongs can also be used if the cactus has long and very sharp spines that may go through the gloves. For tiny cacti, you can use a newspaper.
Examine the bottom of the cactus to see if there are mealy bugs. Also, check to see if it is root-bound and, if so, gently break up some of the roots. This will permit them to spread and grow in the new pot.
Step 5: Place Cactus in New Pot
Carefully set the cactus in the new pot. If the cactus's bottom is not level with the pot's rim, remove it and add a little more soil. Keep doing this until the cactus is level with the rim.
Step 6: Fill in Soil Around Cactus
Make sure to fill in the soil all around the cactus. Use the bamboo skewer or a long, slender stick to check around the sides of the pot. Shake or jiggle the pot to fill the soil in areas with a pocket. A gentle tap on the counter or surface will also help the soil settle in the voids between the roots.
Step 7: Wait a Day Before Watering
Give the cactus a day or two after repotting before adding any water. Use care when watering since overwatering is one of the biggest problems with cacti. Let the soil dry out completely between watering and occasionally give the cactus an overall spray of water.
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