Gardening Tips

Transplant a cactus: how and when to do it

Transplant a cactus: how and when to do it

Cacti, perhaps because of their fame as extraordinarily resistant 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 arise when it comes to transplanting one of these beautiful and resistant plants.

This is why, at EcologíaVerde, 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 various reasons to transplant a cactus. The most common of these is because the plant has grown and the pot it has has outgrown it, 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 top of the cactus has reached the rim of the pot, especially if it is a short, wide rim.

In addition, it will also be necessary to transplant the cactus if you just bought it in a nursery or store, since it most likely does not bring a suitable cactus substrate, or when we simply want renew plant 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 transplant in summer or a dry season, in which 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 watered recently.

How to transplant a cactus step by step

Once the above is clear, if you think it is time to change your potted 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 pass it along the inner edges of the pot, removing the soil on the edges.
  2. Before picking the cactus you should put on thick gardening or leather gloves to avoid injuring 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 previously disinfected pruning shears. 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. If you do, simply cut the longest roots to half their size.
  6. Roots may have been damaged in removal 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 powdered cinnamon.
  7. Prepare the base of the pot with gravel or other drainage material and some cactus substrate, as you can see in the pots on 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.
Transplant a cactus: how and when to do it - How to transplant a cactus step by step

How to transplant a child cactus step by step

the steps if you want get another cactus from a stem or sucker from the same plant are practically the same as when it comes to transplant a cactusalthough there are a few differences.

  1. Extract the daughter cactus carefully from the parent cactus. Sometimes the pups fall off or separate on their own. If not, you can separate them very carefully using a fork. Normally, it is best to wait until it has some 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 very loose, you can compact it slightly with your own fingers or tweezers.
  4. Moisten the child cactus with a few drops of water. This should not be done when transplanting adult cacti, and you should make sure afterward that you place the pot in a dry area and where it receives sunlight, although not directly.

In this other EcologíaVerde article we show you how to reproduce cacti by cuttings and suckers.

Transplant a cactus: how and when to do it - How to transplant a child cactus step by step

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 moisture. To prevent its roots from rotting due to accumulations of water, it is very important do not water them in the weeks following their transplant (except in the case of transplanting suckers, which we recommend moistening slightly after moving them).

In addition, and also to avoid diseases or rotting due to excess humidity, 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 if you place coarse gravel at the base of it, and another layer of it or volcanic rock on the surface, on top of the soil.

Finally, we always recommend not placing a saucer as a base under the pot’s drainage and, if necessary, always remove the excess water after watering or put legs or support on the pot so that it is elevated above the saucer and not on East.

Here we show you more about the basic care for cacti.

Transplant a cactus: how and when to do it - Tips for transplanting a cactus

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