How to Repot a Cactus and Not Get Hurt


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The thought of having to repot a cactus can be somewhat intimidating. How do you handle all those prickly spines?

It really isn’t that hard to do. You just need to know how to not get hurt.

how to repot a cactus

Read More: How and when to repot your indoor plants.

When to Repot your Cactus

Luckily, you won’t need to repot your cactus very often. You will know it’s time when you see roots coming out of the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. This tells you the cactus root-bound. Your cactus is asking you to give him some more space to grow.

If you don’t see any roots coming out, but it has been about two or three years since the last time the cactus got a new pot, it’s wise to take him out and give him some new soil filled with fresh nutrients.


Supplies needed to repot your cactus

  • Your cactus.
  • Cactus Soil.
  • Pot with drainage holes.
  • Protective gear.

You don’t want to get hurt by your plant. Some cacti have large thick spines, others like my bunny ear (Opuntia microdasys) have short barbed hair like prickles.

These glochids might look soft and cuddly but are definitely not. They are difficult to remove when you get them stuck in your hands or fingers and can cause major irritation.

But no fear. There are precautions you can take in the form of protective gear. And you have a number of options.

You can use newspaper or cardboard to wrap the cactus in. Or wear leather gloves to protect your hands.

I like to use kitchen tongs (which I use only for my cacti, not for food). If you are using metal kitchen tongs to hold your cactus, instead of soft plastic/silicone tongs, you can wrap some paper towel around the ends to protect the cactus.

It’s very important to make sure you use the right pot and potting soil that is specifically for cacti. These plants need well-draining soil and a container with drainage holes. Don’t go overboard with the new pot size. The next size up is just fine. Large containers mean that the soil will stay wet longer after watering. And cacti don’t like wet. Just think desert. They like it dry.


How to repot your cactus

Carefully remove the plant from its original pot. Wear leather gloves, or hold it with some newspaper or kitchen tongs.

You’ll probably see a packed root system. Shake off the old soil, and gently separate the roots. This makes it easier for them to spread and grow in the new pot. Prune any dead roots you might see.


Place a small amount of fresh cactus soil in the new pot.  Carefully put the cactus in, and add more soil to the top. 

Make sure to plant the cactus at the same depth it was growing in the old soil.  Fill in soil all around the cactus. You can use a bamboo skewer to check around the sides of the pot. Press the soil down gently.

Do not water your cactus immediately after repotting. Wait about a week. You want to give the plant time to adjust to its new home and the new soil.

Use care when watering, overwatering is one of the biggest problems with cacti. Let the soil dry out completely between watering.

Now go tell yourself don’t be scared of the spines and repot your cactus. You can do it.

Want your own Bunny Ear Cactus (Opuntia microdasys)? You can get them delivered through Amazon or Etsy!

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