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How to Repot Succulents: A Beginner’s Guide

Succulents may eventually need to be repotted, either due to limited space in their current pot or to refresh the soil. In this article, you’ll learn when and how to repot succulents. Additionally, I’ll explain the process of repotting succulent arrangements.

When to Repot Succulents?

Succulents prefer a snug pot, but if you see roots poking out of the drainage hole or the plant looks top-heavy and about to tumble, it’s time to upgrade their living quarters. Early spring is prime repotting time as plants wake up from their winter snooze, geared up for a growth spurt.

Your succulent pals prefer snug spaces, but not too snug. You’ll know it’s time for a change when:

  • Roots start peeking out of the drainage hole.
  • The plant looks cramped and seems to be spilling out of the pot.
  • Growth has plateaued, and the soil has been depleted of nutrients.

How Often Should You Repot Succulents?

Succulents typically need a repot every two years, but it really depends on how quickly they grow. So keep an eye on them; they’ll let you know when it’s time!

I recommend using terracotta pots with drainage holes for succulents; they’re my top choice. To delve into proper succulent pot selection and care, check out our article on caring for succulents.

succulent in terracotta pot

How to Repot Succulents

When moving your slow-growing succulents to a new home, go for a pot that’s about 10% taller and wider than their current one. If you’ve got some speedier growers, aim for a pot that’s roughly 2 inches wider than the plant’s diameter. And don’t forget, big drainage holes are a must for happy, thriving succulents!

  1. Water Your Succulent: A few days before repotting, give your plant a good watering. Moist soil will adhere to the roots and protect them during the transition.
  2. Prepare Your New Home: Fill the new pot about one-third full with a pre-moistened succulent soil mix. Remember, your pot needs a drainage hole to help prevent overwatering.
  3. Gently Remove the Succulent: Turn your existing pot sideways, hold the plant firmly by the base, and tap the pot’s bottom or sides to loosen the succulent out into your hand.
  4. Inspect and Trim Roots: Once out, check the root health. Use your scissors to prune away any dead or rotting roots. That will encourage new growth.
  5. Planting the Succulent: Place the plant in the center of the new pot. Add more soil around the succulent, leaving about a half-inch of space from the top of the pot for watering purposes. Pat the soil down lightly to secure the plant.
  6. Final Touches: Do not water your succulent immediately after repotting. Wait about a week to give it time to settle and any root injuries to heal. Place the plant in an area with indirect sunlight.
how to repot succulents step by step image

How to Repot Succulent Arrangements

Repotting succulent arrangements can be trickier than handling a lone succulent due to the intermingled roots.

  • Choose the Right Pot: If expanding the existing arrangement, opt for a pot 10% larger in both height and width. Adjust the size based on succulent additions or omissions.
  • Unified Extraction: Extract the entire arrangement from the pot instead of tackling individual plants. If roots are tangled, gently use fingers to loosen them, and remove the potting mix to facilitate separation. Some root disturbance is inevitable; aim for minimal impact.
  • Thorough Inspection: Examine each plant and its roots meticulously. Exclude any visibly damaged or diseased plants from the arrangement.
  • Individual Succulent Care: Treat each succulent as you would when repotting individually. Maintain a space of ½ to 1½ inches between plants, adjusting based on their sizes.
how to repot succulent arrangements

How to Care for Succulents After Repotting

After repotting, your succulent will need time to adjust to its new environment. Here’s how you can care for it:

  • Light: Avoid placing the succulent in direct sunlight immediately after repotting, as this can stress the plant more. Gradually move it back into more light over the course of a week.
  • Water: After a week, water your succulent sparingly. The rule of thumb is to water only when the top inch of soil is dry.
  • Observation: Over the next few weeks, monitor your plant for any signs of stress and adjust your care accordingly.
  • Do Not Fertilize: Avoid fertilizing newly repotted succulents; wait a few weeks. For more on succulent fertilization, explore our article on fertilizer for succulents.
how to care for succulents after repotting

Tips for Successful Repotting

Sprucing up your succulents with a new pot can feel like a mini-renovation project for your green family. Here’s how to nail the repotting process, ensuring your plants not only survive the move but thoroughly enjoy their upgraded real estate:

  • Choose the Right Season: Repot in spring or early summer when plants are actively growing.
  • Select Appropriate Soil: Use a well-draining succulent or cactus mix to prevent root rot.
  • Proper Pot Size: Ensure the new pot is slightly larger than the old one and has drainage holes.
  • Careful Handling: Be gentle with the roots and remove any dead or damaged ones.
  • Hold off Watering: Wait for a few days after repotting before the first watering to allow roots to heal.
  • Provide Indirect Light: Keep the plant in a shaded area initially to avoid shock.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Kind of Soil Do Succulents Need to Be Repotted?

Succulents crave well-draining soil. A mix that’s specific for succulents or cacti, which typically contains more sand and perlite, will ensure they’re not left standing in moisture.

When Should I Repot My Succulents?

Repot when you see signs of overcrowding, typically every two years. If your succulent has had a growth spurt, it might be sooner.

Should You Break Up Roots When Repotting Succulents?

Breaking roots can stress the plant. Instead, gently tease the roots apart if they are densely compacted. That encourages them to spread into their new soil home.

Should I Water Succulent After Repotting?

Resist the urge! Wait a week to water, giving any damaged roots a chance to heal. That minimizes the risk of root rot and helps the plant to establish better.

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About Henry Morgan

Henry Morgan is an agronomist horticulture founder of The Garden Style Company and The Garden Style Website. He previously worked for Mondelēz International as an Agronomist Engineer specializing in agricultural products management in highly populated areas. In 2000, Henry started working with farmer-producers in agricultural businesses selling wholesale fresh produce and retail plants in Van Buren, Arkansas. Nowadays, Henry lives in California, where he offers expert consulting services for organic vegetable gardening. As a science writer working with his wife, Julia, Henry shares his passion for gardening and farming, trying to reach and teach as many folks as possible.

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