How to Repot Succulents – Step by Step Instructions

If you’re looking to repot succulents and think that it’s an uphill battle, fret not! Succulent repotting is easier than it looks, and, in this article, we will guide you through the repotting process for a seamless procedure. If you’re looking to plant your succulents in the ground instead, read this article.

how to repot succulents

How to Repot Succulents

In order to repot succulents, you need these materials:

To repot a succulent, make sure the cactus soil is dry. Then carefully remove the plant from its current pot.

when to repot succulents
The aloe, which has grown too big, is already pushing itself out of its pot
how do i know when to repot succulents
It has many well-grown roots – time to move

How to repot a cactus without hurting yourself

  1. Get a piece of newspaper/paper and roll it
  2. Lay the roll like an eyelet around your prickly succulent.
  3. Grab both sides of the newspaper where they meet forming a circle around the plant
  4. Gently lean the prickly friend and pot on its side
  5. Use the rolled paper as a handle to gently pull the plant out of the pot.

Pro Tip: Pliers or very firm gloves are also suitable for thorny succulents.

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A rolled paper helps with thorns

How to repot a trailing succulent

how to repot strings of pearls
Arranged in one direction
  1. Lay the succulent plant on the ground and arrange the delicate leaves / hanging shoots in one direction
  2. Run your fingers around the base of the plant and hold it there
  3. Turn the pot with the succulent on its side (in which the hanging parts of the plant are also arranged)
  4. Slowly separate the pot from the root ball

How to repot succulents with normal, fine root system

Remove any rotten or dead root parts. Healthy roots are usually light to light brown in color and firm. Muddy or dark brown to black roots are likely to rot. Also shorten the root ball a little if necessary. The roots will regenerate again – shortening them can also stimulate growth. Leave the succulent plant a bit so that the wounds can dry off.

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Potting / Planting

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The cactus soil around the roots has been removed

For larger pots, the drainage holes of the new pot should be covered with small lava rocks or shards of clay so that they don’t clog with succulent soil. This is the only way to ensure a good water drainage. For succulents, always use a pot with a drainage hole at the bottom.

Fill the pot with substrate up to the level of the succulent plant to be planted. The selection should match the respective plant. Plant living stones and cacti purely minerally; many other succulents feel very comfortable in a mixture of 30-60% humic substrate mixed with mineral components. Use a mixture of 2/3 peat and 1/3 coarse sand for Rhipsalis and Hoyas.

When inserting in its new home, make sure that the plant is in the middle of the pot and that the plant’s body is only as deep in the ground as before. Succulents planted too deeply often begin to rot at the root neck. Do not bury side shoots in the ground. However, beheaded cuttings with a bare stem can be inserted deeper when repotting.

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Insert in the middle

Fill the spaces around the succulent plant with substrate and compact it slightly with fingers.

Optionally, a top soil (e.g. finer stones, lava rocks, coarse sand, grit or expanded clay and much more) can be used. This gives the plant a uniformed loook. In addition, the substrate is protected from dehydration and weed seeds (if they are out in the garden in summer).

Then place in a warm, bright, and partially shaded location. Full midday sun, especially outdoors in the summer months, should be avoided for the first 3–4 weeks until good new roots have formed. Water the freshly planted succulents only after a week. This reduces the risk of root rot.

Special Case of Bonsai

Bonsai can be grown from many succulents. Regular repotting is an indispensable measure for the care of these specially cultivated plants. As a rule, the miniature trees are cultivated in conspicuously small planters to limit growth and for stylistic reasons.

This creates an overall aesthetic appearance for the plant. While other potted plants are mainly placed in larger containers after potting, bonsai is planted again in the container previously used (do clean before reusing – or use another one, but the same size).

In addition, the plant is subjected to a root pruning in order to reduce the root mass and promote the branching of the root ball, so that a fine, even root system is formed. The plants absorb nutrients with the fresh shoots, the so-called hair roots. Replacing the substrate provides the bonsai with fresh, vital nutrients. This way it stays healthy but doesn’t grow excessively.

Why Repot Succulents?

1. Newly Bought Succulent Plant

In this case, we are killing 2 birds with 1 stone. When you first buy a succulent, some might come in its own black plastic container as packaging (which is only good when transporting succulents from one place to another).

However, in the long run this is detrimental to your succulent plant as it will impede its growth and provide poor water circulation.

Also, when you repot succulents for the first time after purchase you will be able to examine whether there are any parasites lurking about.

It is for this reason that most of our succulents undergo a 2-week quarantine procedure. By checking the roots of the succulent plant you will be able to exterminate whatever remnant parasites that remains.

2. The Succulent Plant Has Outgrown the Container

repotting overgrown succulents

It is a good sign whenever your succulent outgrows its container. This means it has been receiving the proper nutrients and adequate light for optimum growth.

One sure-fire way of telling if your succulent is too big is by looking at its top. If it’s too heavy, it will start to tip over. Another confirmation is by looking at the roots. Additional roots will be seen sprouting out the sides or drainage hole.

This phenomenon is called “root ball”. Root balls are indicative of nutrient-depletion in soil, and if nothing is done to fix the situation the growth of the succulent will eventually stop.

3. Planned Soil Changing

Sometimes the act of repotting succulents does not mean that the pot (or whatever is housing the succulent) needs changing. It could also mean the cactus soil has gone bad and needs switching out.

As a side note, you should always change the soil whenever you buy a new succulent. Many would just continue using the same soil that comes with the packaging, which is a big no-no in our books. The nursery soil that comes with the succulent has most likely been watered too much.

How to Know When to Repot Succulents?

If there are no specific reasons for you to repot succulents (apart from those listed above), then the ideal time to do it is once every 2 years. This is purely a preventive step in order to assure that the succulent receives adequate nutrient daily. This also prevents root balls from forming.

Apart from restoring nutrients needed for a healthy succulent, repotting succulents also assures that the soil mix stays aerated and provides ample space for the roots to grow.

As the soil is watered, dirt tends to sip through, and this compacts the soil in a way that it inhibits grow space for the plant. Fresh soil will therefore provide ample air for the roots to absorb, which is vital for a healthy succulent.

Do You Water Succulents After Repotting?

After you have successfully repotted your succulents, for that first irrigation that you think is paramount, you will need a little bit of patience. It is ideal to let the plant acclimate to its new state and the roots are nourished from the cactus soil for another week before watering.

How Often Should Succulents be Repotted?

After one to five years, the pot in which you have planted your succulents will most likely be completely covered with roots. For the succulent to continue to grow and thrive, it must move to a new pot.

How often to repot succulents depends on the species in question. If you are not sure whether there is still room for the roots or if your succulent species grows fast or slowly, you can simply repot them every two to three years as a rule of thumb.

When is a Good Time to Replant Succulents?

The perfect season for replanting succulents is between the end of winter and beginning of spring. Under no circumstances should you repot succulents in the summer – the plants grow fastest at this time of year and you could potentially disrupt this process by repotting.

When is the Best Time to Transplant a Cactus?

In the case of cacti, the best time to transplant a cactus is at the end of the dormant period between March and May (never in winter). If you want to repot your cactus, you should stop watering it as it is easier to remove from dry soil.

Read more about transplanting cactuses.

Why did My Plant Die after Repotting?

Whether you are repotting an existing succulent or propagating a new cutting, succulent roots and calloused leaves cannot sustain in moist conditions just yet. When newly repotted, the roots will not be actively absorbing water and will effectively rot if the new environment is wet.

Sunlight and air are important components to induce root. Choose a bright, covered space without direct light for your repotted succulent. Roots planted in the soil need time to repair any damage from repotting. After seven days, water your succulent sparingly to induce water absorption by the roots.