Exotic Gardening with Rare and Strange Plants

Exciting news, I bought another plant! I picked up this great looking cactus at Foxglove on the weekend and I’m happy to bring it home. I’m not sure what species it is yet (cacti are a tough id) but it was sending out little pink flowers when I spotted it and I had to bring it home.  It’s only shortcoming being of course, it’s small pot for it’s impressive size. I knew I had to repot it asap, and this in turn led me to the idea of writing a small post on how to repot a cactus.

It isn’t exactly rocket science but it can be a bit intimidating if you’re unfamiliar with process. Cacti can be prickly plants to handle, and if your not careful you might loose an eye, or get a hand full of spikes. Ok, first things first, you’re going to need a couple things.

1. A pot, be it clay, ceramic, or plastic. One thing to keep in mind is you don’t want to choose a pot too much bigger then the original root ball. I would recommend picking a pot only 1-3 times bigger then the original plant pot, too much extra soil space will lead to excess moisture, which could rot your poor cactus. Smaller pots dry out quicker, which makes Mr. Cactus very happy.

2.Cactus Soil / Medium. Cacti are somewhat different then your regular house plant. The majority of cacti are native to dry arid habitats and do not lend well to having wet feet. Garden soil and regular potting blends often have additives to retain moisture as most plants really enjoy these conditions. Cacti are somewhat the opposite, you need a soil that water runs through, you will need a cacti medium. Most garden stores carry a nice cactus mix, but they will charge you a premium for it. Depending on my mood I either buy some or make my own. You certainly can make your own in bulk for considerably less money. 1 part washed sand, 1 part perlite/pumice / and 1 part garden loam / potting soil. Easy, get creative and try making your own. The main concept is avoid water retention.

3. Gravel / Broken Terracotta Pots. I usually like to add a healthy layer of gravel / terracotta at the bottom of my cactus pots to aid drainage. This helps the free flow of water, and exposes the roots to air.

4. Decorative mulch. I bought a large bag of shaved terracotta at a garage sale for 5 bucks and I often top dress my succulent pots with it for a cool authentic effect. Beach stones, marbles, crystals, and all types of shiny or dull things make an excellent decorative mulch. Not only does it look good but it prevents soil erosion when you water your cactus.

Removing your cactus from it’s pot, and placing it in its new pot. BUT HOW!? It’s so spiky.
This will take, skill. dexterity. and a keen eye. Some might reccomend some sort of fancy, cactus spike blocking glove. Personally I used thick card stock, or what’s often better, and free, paper grocery store bags. Wrap it around the base of your cactus, and gently tease it out of the pot. If it’s giving you a tough time consider squeezing the pot a bit to loosen the roots from their hold.

After it’s all said and done, hold it upright in the pot and pack soil around the cactus. Pat yourself on the back and poor a drink. You did it! This cactus will be much happier now and in time will grow and flower to prove it’s admiration for you. See wasn’t that easy?

4 Responses to How to repot a cactus – easy!

Leave a Reply

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

Mr Nat. Gardener, Plant Nerd
Tips and tales about gardening in one of the most mild climates in Canada. Specializing in rare and strange plants from far out destinations, this is the story of an obsessed young gardener in Victoria B.C. Let's create more tropical gardens in the garden city on the southern tip of Vancouver Island.