How to Re-pot a Cactus

Cactus ready for re-potting

It’s funny the things you remember. In 10th grade English we had to give a speech. It was a “how-to” and I chose how to repot a cactus. I have no idea why. I was terrified of speaking in public then, even to my classmates. But I do remember that the teacher–whose name escapes me–liked that when I was explaining how to do the re-potting, I made eye contact with the class and actually looked around. I guess that was the true beginning of my garden speaking career.

Back then, conventional wisdom was that you wrapped the cactus in newspaper to protect yourself from thorns. These days, I have a few better tricks.

I started off using silicone pot holders which is great because they are impervious to everything. But they don’t make it that easy to grasp things. The empty spaces you see in the above pot were filled with small cacti. I am not sure that I would have been able to manipulate the potholders and the cactus in such tight spots.

Silicone coated tongs with cactus

So you see my latest choice–silicone coated tongs. And you can see that I have already used them to remove yet another of the cacti.

They’re perfect for gently grabbing the spiny things and relocating them where you need them to be. The only other implement I use is a spoon to transfer the soil around them and to pack it down around the cactus–because I obviously can’t do it with my fingers as I normally would.

Re-potted cactus

And here’s the finished product: two cactus in a much more size appropriate pot.

2 thoughts on “How to Re-pot a Cactus

  1. tonytomeo July 12, 2021 / 9:26 pm

    Oh, that is a cool idea. I remember the diagram in the Sunset – Western Garden Book that shows how to wrap a paper town around them.

  2. gardendaze July 13, 2021 / 5:18 am

    Yeah, newspapers, paper towels–those sharp spines of the cactus go right through those. If you are repotting a lot of cactus–and you can tell that I have done it quite a bit over the years–you have to figure out how not to get impaled a lot. They always seem to get my knuckles too, which is really pinchy!


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