How to Repot Succulents Correctly

Succulents are generally known as undemanding plants in terms of care, especially watering. However, certain procedures can’t be overlooked, such as repotting. While it may sound straightforward, replanting a succulent requires specific knowledge.

In this article, you’ll learn all you need to succeed in repotting these drought-tolerant plants.

When to Repot

Several cases make repotting necessary. A common one is when you have a recently purchased plant. The store-bought soil often contains an excess of fertilizers and growth stimulants and can be infested with pests or infected with pathogens. It’s best to repot a new plant a few weeks (or even months) after purchase; if you do it too early, your green pet might get stressed. Another cause for repotting a succulent could be overwatering, as these plants can’t stand an overabundance of moisture. If you accidentally overwater a succulent, it’ll be best to immediately repot the plant using fresh, dry soil.

A pest infestation or a disease are also among common reasons for repotting. In such cases, taking the plant out of its pot allows you to examine the root system for any unhealthy parts that may need to be pruned. Lastly, repotting a plant is necessary when it outgrows its pot or when the soil depletes and deteriorates over time, losing its properties and vital nutrients. Despite popular opinions, repotting can be done all year round, given that you provide repotted plants with proper care afterward.

Pot Dimensions and Repotting Tips

When picking a pot for your plant, make sure you follow a few simple rules. First, a new container should accommodate the root system and be neither too small nor gigantic; otherwise, it’ll lead to uneven watering and root problems. The right size is 1–2 in (2.5–5 cm) larger from each side than the root system. Also, make sure the pot has drainage holes so that excess water can seep through them into a saucer or cachepot; otherwise, you may risk causing waterlogging.

Succulents can store water in their tissue to withstand short periods of drought. Therefore, it’s best to repot them right before watering when the leaves and stems have already lost some stored moisture and become more pliable and less firm. The new substrate should preferably be dry or just slightly damp. Refrain from watering for 3–4 days after repotting, allowing your plant to adapt and heal after the procedure.

Getting the Succulent Ready

To avoid damaging the succulent during repotting, don’t forcefully pull it out of its container. First, loosen the soil along the edges of the pot and tap it on each side. If you happen to have a plastic container, you can just squeeze it with your hands. Once you’re done loosening the soil, tilt the pot on its side and carefully pull the succulent out, gently holding it by its stems or leaves to protect it from damage.

The next step is to carefully shake off and remove any excess soil from the roots. Examine them thoroughly and, if necessary, prune any unhealthy ones. Although it’s best to remove as much spent soil as possible, you can keep the root ball intact if the root system of your succulent is very sensitive. In this case, slightly shaking the substrate off will be enough.

Preparing the Pot and Soil

One more preparatory step before repotting is placing a layer of drainage material—gravel, expanded clay pebbles, or brick chips—at the bottom of the pot. This way, you’ll facilitate the outflow of excess moisture after watering and prevent the substrate from washing out through the drainage holes. Also, you shouldn’t compact the soil too much afterward, as it’ll naturally settle on its own after the first watering.

Depending on the plant species, the most suitable soil composition may vary. However, all commercial potting mixes for succulents have a lot in common: they’re loose, moderately nutritious, airy, and well-draining. They often contain equal parts coarse sand, leaf mold, and loam-based compost with minor additions of charcoal powder, small pebbles, and perlite. Coir- and mineral-based potting mixes are also popular nowadays.

If you follow the simple rules listed above, repotting succulents will never pose a serious problem. Hobbies should always be fun, so taking a few preparatory steps will help you avoid any potential fuss and ensure that caring for undemanding succulents remains easy and enjoyable.

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