Transplanting a cactus: how and when to do it

Cacti, perhaps because of their reputation for being extraordinarily hardy plants, sometimes receive less care than they really need. And it is true that they are very strong plants, but even they have weaknesses and problems that should be paid attention to. Many of these problems and many doubts come when transplanting one of these beautiful and resistant plants.

That is why we have decided to prepare this article, in which we are going to see when to transplant a cactus and how to do it correctly.

When to transplant a cactus

There are a number of reasons to transplant a cactus. The most common of them is because the plant has grown and the pot it has has become too small, something that will happen approximately every two to four years. We know that a cactus pot is too small when:

  • The roots of the plant are visible through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot.
  • The cactus crown has reached the edge of the pot, especially if it is low and somewhat wide.

In addition, it will also be necessary to transplant the cactus if you have just purchased it in a nursery or store, since it most likely does not bring a suitable substrate for cactus, or when we simply want to renew the plant’s soil . Likewise, a cactus can be transplanted when suckers appear and we want to separate them so that they develop well.

In any of these cases, and regardless of the reason, it will always be much better to carry out the transplant in summer or a dry season, when the small injuries that the plant may suffer will be much less likely to be problematic. In addition, it should be done whenever the soil is rather dry, not after having recently watered.

How to transplant a cactus step by step

Once the above is clear, if you think it is time to change your pot cacti, follow these steps to transplant a cactus correctly :

  1. The first thing is to loosen the soil from the pot to be able to extract the cactus without causing damage. If it is a plastic pot, you can press the pot around its perimeter. If not, use a blunt tool to run it around the inner edges of the pot, stirring up the soil around the edges.
  2. Before picking the cactus you should put on thick gardening gloves or leather to avoid damaging yourself with the thorns. Additionally, and making sure that the soil is dry, you can surround the cactus with several sheets of newspaper before lifting it.
  3. The peat and soil must then be removed from the roots, cleaning them with the hands very carefully or with some water, always with very little pressure.
  4. Look for roots in poor condition to prune them with pruning shears previously disinfected. In the same way, if the roots suffer from fungi or pests, apply the corresponding cactus fungicide or pesticide.
  5. This step is optional. If you want to stimulate the growth of the cactus, you can prune its roots. To do so, it will be enough to cut the longest roots to half their size.
  6. The roots may have been damaged in extraction even if you haven’t pruned them. For this reason, let your cactus dry in the sun for up to 4 days before continuing or, apply a fungicide on them, either specific for cacti or a little cinnamon powder.
  7. Prepare the bottom of the pot with gravel or other drainage material and some cactus substrate, as can be seen in the pots in the cover image of this article.
  8. Then place the cactus in the center carefully and, without pressing it, again holding it with gloves and / or newspaper.
  9. It only remains to fill the pot completely hiding the roots, and you will have finished the transplant.

How to transplant a child cactus step by step

The steps if you want to get another cactus from a shoot or sucker of the same plant are practically the same as when transplanting a cactus , although there are a few differences.

  1. Carefully remove the child cactus from the parent cactus. Sometimes the suckers fall or separate on their own. If not, you can separate them very carefully with the help of a fork. Normally, it is best to wait for it to have some somewhat long roots, as in the image.
  2. Make a small hole with your finger, or with any fine tool, in the soil of the pot where you are going to plant it, and place the cactus in it, always with gloves or, if it is a very young child, with tweezers.
  3. Put soil around the new plant. If the cactus is too loose, you can compact it slightly with your own fingers or tweezers.
  4. Moisten the cactus son with a few drops of water. This should not be done when transplanting adult cacti, and you should make sure after placing the pot in a dry area and where it receives sunlight, although not directly.

Tips for transplanting a cactus

Apart from all the indications already mentioned, it should be remembered that cacti, especially some species, are especially sensitive to excess humidity. To prevent its roots from rotting due to accumulations of water, it is very important not to water them in the following weeks after transplanting (except in the case of transplanting suckers, which we recommend slightly moistening after moving them).

In addition, and also to avoid diseases or rot due to excess moisture, it is vital to prepare a suitable substrate for cacti . You can buy it in any store, or prepare it yourself with two parts of peat, two parts of earth, one part of silica or river sand and one part of volcanic rock. For the pot to offer good drainage, it helps a lot to place coarse gravel at the base of it, and another layer of the same or volcanic rock on the surface, on the ground.

Finally, we always recommend not placing a plate as a base under the drainage of the pot and, if necessary, always remove the excess water after watering or place some legs or support on the pot so that it is raised above the plate and not on this.

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