How to Easily Transplant Your Succulents
You purchased a beautiful succulent and its sitting in an unremarkable plastic grower’s pot. You want to give your new plant baby the pot it deserves and and now want to transplant it from its plastic nursery pot to a nice terracotta pot? Whether your repotting a baby succulent or a large succulent, the process is relatively simple but you do need a gentle touch.
How Succulents are Different from Other Indoor Plants
Succulents make fantastic houseplants. Unlike other indoor plants, succulents have thick, fleshy leaves and stems, as well as enlarged, shallow roots that enable them to tolerate limited watering. Succulents retain moisture so they don't need to be watered as often as other plants.
Why Transplant Your Succulent
As succulents grow, they will eventually outgrow their pots. Although generally, succulents like to be snug in their pots, if the pot is too small, the roots will have nowhere to grow and become a rootball. This can slow down growth and isn’t good for the plant. You will want to up-pot. Most succulents, including cacti, will need to be up-potted about once every 1 to 2 years.
Repotting is also an opportunity to freshen up the soil and check on the plant’s health. Regularly checking up on a plant’s wellbeing is important. When transplanting, rinse the soil off of the roots and look for any signs of pests or decay. You could also prune the roots, removing dead bits. It’ll encourage new growth.
When to Transplant Your Succulent
It’s always best to transplant succulents right before their growing season. This is usually in early spring or early fall for most succulents. This way, the succulents will have enough time to recover from the repotting.
You can follow these simple steps to properly repot your succulents:
What You'll Need:
- The succulent
- Pre-mixed cactus and succulent soil
- A pot
- Gardening gloves
Steps to Follow for Repotting Succulents:
- Prepare your new pot by filling it ¾ full with a pre-mixed succulent or cactus soil. If you are moving your succulent to a larger planter, make sure the planter is about 2" wider than the diameter of the succulent. This will give your succulent plenty of room to grow in to and stabilize.
- With your gloves on, it’s time to take your succulent out of its current pot. Succulent roots are close to the surface since there is no deep water in their natural habitat. They need to catch rainfall when it happens. Never grab a plant and tug it out of its pot. Cup your fingers around the stem and flip it upside down. If the succulent is in a plastic nursery pot, with your other hand, gently squeeze the pot to loosen the soil and roots until the plant slips free. This process will stretch the roots. Spreading and airing the roots out will allow them to adjust and better fit in the new soil and stabilize the plant in a bigger pot. Brush off any dead roots and pull off any dead leaves from around the base of the plant.
- Dig a shallow hole in the new soil, place your succulent in it, then gently cover the roots with more of the cactus and succulent soil to stabilize the plant. Be sure to add enough to reach the base of the plant, but don't cover any leaves or let the leaves rest on top of the soil! This could cause rotting leaves because they'll absorb too much moisture from the soil.
- Once the plant is stable, you can give your new potted succulent a personal touch by adding colored rocks, pebbles, or sand as a soil topping. If you do add something to the top, be sure that the material drains well so that water can get down into the soil below! This has the dual advantage of looking good and keeping any curious pets from digging in. Consider lava rocks, pumice, chabasai or akadama.
- Normally, we’d follow a transplanting of any other plant with a good watering. But with succulents, it is generally recommended to wait a few days to let the roots acclimatize to their new home instead. They’re in a bit of shock and aren’t pulling any water up anyways. If you water your succulent too soon, it risks being waterlogged and could rot. After 3 to 5 days, be sure the soil is dry, then wet thoroughly without drowning it and be sure the water drains.
- Enjoy your repotted succulent! When the soil is dry again, it’ll be time to water again. If it's still damp, leave it until it dries. They are resilient little plants, so don't be afraid to experiment and find out what works best for your new addition. But generally, give it lots of sun, let the soil dry, then water and repeat.
Choosing a Proper Pot
Selecting the right pot for succulents is an important part of keeping your plant happy and healthy. Drainage is the most important thing to consider when choosing the right pot for your succulent. Without good drainage, a succulent risks root rot or other ailments due to overwatering. The best pots for succulents will have a drainage hole. Terracotta or ceramic pots are best but you can also use plastic, wood or metal pots. If you want to plant your succulent in a terrarium or other pot without drainage holes, you’ll have to water more sparingly and help prevent root rot by adding stones to the bottom of the pot.
The right size pot has a circumference that's about 5 to 10 percent larger than the size of the plant. Select pots that allow no more than an inch or two of extra room around the sides. If the pot is too large, the fragile roots will spread before the plant has time to grow.
Here are examples the right pot size for a given succulent size:
- If your succulent is about 2 inches in diameter, use a 2.5-inch (best option) to 4-inch pot (absolute maximum size) for best results.
- If your succulent is about 4 inches in diameter, use a 4.5-inch (best option) to 6-inch pot (absolute max size) for best results.
Choosing the Right Potting Soil Mix
Succulents are drought-tolerant plants that don’t require regular moisture. Their potting soil should thus be porous and well-draining and have a lower percentage of organic matter than traditional indoor soil mixes. An airy yet grainy soil mixture with plenty of sand and pumice or perlite is ideal. Consider starting with a commercial cactus and succulent soil mix.
Watering or Misting Succulents
Don't mist your succulents! Using a spray bottle to mist succulents can leave droplets of water on leaves causing mold and brittle roots. The best way to water is from the bottom. That is, place your succulent in its pot in a pan of water and allow the water to absorb through the drainage hole. Once the top of the soil is moist, remove from the pan. Then let the soil dry completely before watering again the next time. Remember it’s better to underwater than to overwater!
It is important to remember that you should never repot your succulent if it is flowering. Repotting may stop the blooming process, and the flower may fall off the succulent.
We’ll repeat this one again: Do not overwater. During the repotting process, be careful not to soak the plant in water or water it right after you put it in a new pot. Your succulent will get root rot if it gets too much water in the process. Best to wait a few days.
Repotting succulents is not so difficult but if you want your plant to last, it is important that you do it right and do it gently. However, succulents are resilient! Don’t be afraid to have fun, experiment and switch it from its current pot to another cute pot. Good luck!