How to Repot a Cactus Plant

Repotting is an inevitable activity in the life of a cactus let alone any other succulent.

Due to the fact that it always growing (just as any plant), it is bound to overgrow its initial pot. And this necessitates a change for your plant to keep glowing.

Typically between 2-4 years, you’re going to have to repot your cacti, don’t you wish you had a new home this often?

Right below, you’ll learn about repotting a cactus (the right way) without killing your plant.

First off…

Requirements for Repotting Cactus Plants

Repotting isn’t much different from the initial potting. Below is a recap of the requirements.

The right pot or planter

When it comes to choosing a pot for your cactus, the size and material are of utmost importance.

Usually, a pot made of clay like these terra cotta pots made from Winlyn is preferred over a plastic one. The clay allows the roots to breath more easily which contributes to the general well-being of succulent plants.

Additionally, it boosts the drainage of the cacti potting mix hence providing just the ideal conditions for your cactus – scarce water.

On the size aspect, choose a pot that is neither too large or too small – depending on the size of the cactus you wish to pot. You want to make sure that there is just a bit of space between your plant and the pot’s walls. A super small pot will choke up the roots ultimately killing the plant. A larger than life pot will lead to the soil mix retaining water, and you know that means for your cactus.

If you don’t know what excessive water does to cacti or let alone any succulent, please be sure to read our article on when you should water succulents. It’s helped over 3000 people and it may help you too.

Also, don’t forget to ensure your pot has a few holes down there. A big enough and well flowing draining system will be crucial to your cacti’s growth.

The proper potting mix

Cacti, being succulents, require a potting mix that is well-draining to provide the water scarcity condition that they’re adapted to. So your normal soil mix is a no-no. (If you’re looking for a premium cacti soil mix, here’s one we highly recommend from Superfly Bonsai).

Instead, you can grab a commercial succulent mix prepared just for your cactus. A typical cacti/succulent potting mix contains a small amount of organic materials, sand, perlite and sphagnum peat moss.

Alternatively, you can prepare your own ideal mix at home as long as you have the ingredients – and it’s not some endless collection of stuff from the outer space, although that’d be pretty cool. Check out the ingredients your cacti soil mix will need.

  • Potting soil
  • Coarse sand
  • Pumice (perlite is also a good option here)

And the procedure is straightforward – mix the above ingredients with potting soil taking up a larger share of the combination while the other two ingredients sharing the remaining part equally.

For instance, 2 parts of potting soil can be combined with 1 part of coarse sand and 1 part of pumice/perlite.

To test if you’ve indeed ended up with the real thing, wet your mixture and try squeezing it. A good one should be coarse and crumby. If not, consider adding more of sand and pumice/perlite. The coarseness and crumbiness (is that a word?) is what allows your succulent soil to have a functional draining system.

how to repot cactus plant
@thepricklybitch

How to Repot a Cactus Plant

Here’s a refresher for when you first pot a cactus

In case you aren’t well informed on how to properly pot plants in the beginning, here is a quick reminder on what you need to do. Just follow the steps below, skip to the next section if you just want to learn how to repot your awesome prickly cactus.

  1. Place a well-draining material at the bottom of your pot. Gravel is fine.
  2. Fill up the pot with a well-draining mix – commercial or homemade – up to a third way of the pot.
  3. Try placing your plant in the pot. This way, you get to know if the pot’s size is ideal for it. The cactus shouldn’t be too deep into the pot nor too high up. And should leave just a bit of space between it and the pot – remember above? And, please don’t forget to watch for spikes. A pair of tongs or even cacti gloves will cover you.
  4. If all is good with the size, hold the plant centrally and fill up the remaining space with more potting mix.
  5. Firm the soil by pressing it gently. Add some more it goes down considerably but be sure to leave some watering space at the top.
  6. Give the plant its first shot of water.

Repotting a Cactus Plant

  1. Loosen up the soil in the pot by running a blunt knife or some other gardening tool in it. Be thorough at this to avert any possibilities of damaging the plant.
  2. Remove your cactus plant being careful not to come into contact with its pricks. Rolled up fun cactus bed sheets or a pair of tongs will do just fine for protection. In case the plant is quite huge, use a rolled up towel or actual gardening gloves.
  3. Rid the roots of large soil debris and see to it that you have individual roots separated from each other.
  4. Check the roots for any pests and diseases. Treat with appropriate chemicals. Also, nip off any dead ones.
  5. Prune the very large roots. Cutting these roots will help your plant grow with much more vigor.
  6. Allow the plant to dry out for up four days. This allows the roots that might have been hurt to heal hence eliminating any risk of rot.
  7. Follow the potting procedure above to install your plant in the ideal pot. But don’t water it yet. Give it up to a week before your first watering session.

After that, you can go back to your normal care routine.


Repotting your cactus plant is mandatory to maintain the ideal pot size. And as long as you’ve taken your plants through the above treatment, you should do so without a problem.

Thanks for reading our repotting a cactus plant article, we hope you learned something new today in order to avoid getting pricked by the spiky thorns on cacti. Let us know if you have any tips that we didn’t share below!

Calling all succulents lovers— rookie or veteran! Succulent City has developed a line of 12 ebooks (see here), ranging on topics from indoor & outdoor succulents, essential tools, the best soil to use, and more! We even threw in a complimentary ebook to help get your succulent journey started you just have to insert your email on our front page for this. With our ebooks you’ll be a succulent guru in no time, have fun!

How to Repot a Cactus Plant
  • I have wanted to know for a long time ( I am 76) how to repot cactuses . You answered all my questions. I know I will succeed with these good instructions.Thank you Anna!

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