An Easy Guide On How To Repot A Cactus Plant

How To Repot A Cactus Plant Featured image

Repotting is an inevitable activity in the life of a cactus let alone any other succulent. Due to the fact that it is always growing (just as any plant), it is bound to overgrow the initial pot. And this necessitates a change for your cactus to keep glowing. Typically between 2-4 years, your cacti require repotting, 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 Cacti

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 a terra cotta pot 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 cactus 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.

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

Repoting 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 cacti 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 you can be repotting 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. 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 in the soil.
  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 you water it.

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 loversβ€” 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!

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

13 thoughts on “An Easy Guide On How To Repot A Cactus Plant

  1. I had an accident with an enormous multi arm cactus that had been growing for at least 20 years in one fairly large pot. Unfortunately the poor thing toppled over while I was trying to move it and broke off from the whole root system. I have separated it now into two halves, but none of them have any roots attached to the trunk. Any chance in could be saved or is it a total loss?

  2. Hello again Richard, πŸ™‚

    Thanks for your latest interesting and encouraging e-mail! πŸ“§πŸ‘€

    In response to your 2nd question:

    Given that I live in a flat, my cacti will permanently remain indoors. For your information, I have 3 windows, including 2 facing North-West (my kitchen and bedroom) and 1 (my living-room) facing South-East. The air is reasonably dry with decent ventilation all year round. Regarding my local climate, winters are quite cold and damp (with temperatures seldom below zero), summers are hot and dry (30-35°C on average), with spring and autumn being quite variable. 🌨️🌀️

    In response to your 1st question:

    Because my imminent repotting will be a golden opportunity to inspect the real health of my beloved Blue Columnar Cactus, I’m carefully considering (1) cleaning, (2) trimming, (3) drying and even (4) disinfecting the roots, before placing it in a brand new pot which is (a) larger, (b) made of terracotta and (c) contains a large drainage hole at the bottom! πŸ€”

    If you now look at my enclosed photo (that encapsulates my strategic plan), you will notice a bag of cactus mix (on the right) and another (on the left) containing substrate, both of which are considered to be quality products! 🌡🧐

    But should I use both, notably substrate in the bottom 1/3 and cactus mix in the other 2/3? πŸ€”

    I ask this because the instructions on the substrate packet suggest it could entirely replace traditional cactus mix… 🀨

    Furthermore, the cactus mix is designed for succulents in general, not all of which are cacti, and might be too rich, as opposed to the substrate which is said to be perfect for cacti! πŸ€”

    So could you kindly enlighten me on these various concerns I have? 😐

    If I feel sufficiently reassured and confident, then the operation could potentially take place this coming Sunday! 🌡😜

    Kind regards,

    Mike Pilkington,
    Lyon, France πŸ‡«πŸ‡·

      1. Thanks again Richard! πŸ™‚

        For technical reasons, my repotting operation has been rescheduled until next Wednesday afternoon. πŸ—“οΈ

        In the meantime, I wish to address 2 remaining concerns: πŸ€”

        1) Would it be wise if I placed my cactus horizontally on the edges of a saucepan, to reduce potential damage to the spikes? πŸŒ΅β†’

        2) Once the old soil has been carefully removed, how should I safely clean and/or disinfect the roots, so as to permanently eradicate the insects that must surely have constantly-hatching eggs somewhere? πŸͺ³

        3) And finally, how many hours should I leave it there to dry before placing it into its new habitat? ⏱️

        Having proudly developed an emotional attachment to my cacti, your advice has so far been much appreciated! 😜

        So, if there is anything else you deem useful to add, that would be equally welcome! πŸ™‚


        Mike Pilkington,

        1. Hi Michael,

          It’s lovely to hear that you’ve developed an emotional connection with your cactus. This reminds me of my own relationship. To reduce the damage to the cactus spike, you can do what you said with the saucepan but really recommend anything soft wrapping around your plant.

          About disinfecting/cleaning the roots, here is my take. I will inspect whether there is any unhealthy root to trim it. Then I will do a short water therapy for the plant so the root is deep into fresh water, which eliminates old soil dirt and gives the plant a nice boost of freshness. During this time, we can prepare the new pot and soil. For water therapy, it depends on the size and the purpose of the procedure, which you can check here for more information:
          About drying after the water therapy, just take it out and wait until you see it’s quite dry. There is no specific time for this.

          I hope this reply actually helps.


          1. Thanks again Richard! πŸ™‚

            As an additional precaution, the fresh water I plan to use will be both filtered and at room temperature (+20°C)! 🚰🚿

            Obviously, I promise to let you know how this unique operation went (this coming Wednesday afternoon), and I might even take a few photos of the momentarily visible roots! 🧀🌡πŸͺ΄πŸ“Έ

            Fingers crossed! 🀞😜


            Mike Pilkington,

  3. Great information for transplanting cactus.
    There are a few items I’ll need to get before I repot.
    Thank you

  4. 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!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Posted in