These charming, low-maintenance beauties have a way of brightening up any space with their unique shapes and colors. However, succulents, like any plant, have their quirks and preferences. They outgrow their pots, become root-bound, and need a change of scenery just like we do. Knowing how to repot succulents can save your beloved plants and give them a whole new, healthy lease of life.
My Jade plant had grown taller and ran out of legroom in its pot. Its leaves started to droop. I embarked on a repotting mission. I unearthed roots tightly hugging the pot’s edges and placed them into a more spacious, stylish container. My once-slouching succulent stood tall and proud, thriving in its new home.
I will guide you through the process of repotting succulents, ensuring that you achieve success in maintaining their health and vitality.
Table of Contents
- What’s the Fuss About Succulents?
- Why Grow Succulents?
- How Do I Know When My Succulents Need Repotting?
- What Tools Are Required to Repot Succulents?
- How to Repot Succulents Like a Pro?
- What are Some Creative Ways to Repot Succulents?
- What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid?
- What Happens if the Repotting is Unsuccessful?
What’s the Fuss About Succulents?
Succulents, often called nature’s water-wise wonders, are a diverse group of plants known for storing water in their leaves, stems, or roots. They come in an impressive array of shapes, sizes, and colors, making them a favorite among plant enthusiasts. These hardy plants have adapted to thrive in arid and semi-arid regions worldwide, making them aesthetically pleasing and well-suited for various environments.
Why Grow Succulents?
The allure of succulents extends beyond their captivating appearance. There are numerous benefits to growing these charming plants, such as:
- Low maintenance: Succulents are generally low-maintenance, requiring less frequent watering and minimal attention than other houseplants.
- Air purification: They can improve indoor air quality by absorbing toxins and releasing oxygen.
- Aesthetic appeal: Succulents add a touch of natural beauty to any space with striking forms and vibrant hues.
- Versatility: Whether you have a green thumb or are a novice gardener, succulents are forgiving and adaptable, making them suitable for various skill levels.
How Do I Know When My Succulents Need Repotting?
Repotting succulents is a critical aspect of succulent care, and recognizing when your succulent plants are ready for a change of scenery is essential.
Keep an eye out for these telltale signs:
- Overcrowded roots: When the roots are tightly bound and begin to fill the pot and circle themselves, your succulent plant has outgrown its old pot.
- Slow growth: If your succulent’s growth has stagnated despite ideal light and water conditions, it may be craving more space and nutrients.
- Drying out too quickly: When the soil dries out rapidly after watering, it could be due to the roots occupying too much space and leaving little room for water absorption.
- Leaning or tilting: A succulent that leans or tilts excessively in one direction may be top-heavy, a sign that it’s time to repot into a sturdier container.
What Tools Are Required to Repot Succulents?
Repotting succulents can be enjoyable, especially when you have the right tools in your gardening arsenal.
Here are the must-haves:
- Garden gloves: Protect your hands from the occasional prickly encounter with spiky indoor succulents. Trust me; your fingers will thank you!
- Trowel or spoon: This nifty tool helps you scoop out your succulent without causing root trauma.
- Pruning shears: Pruning shears help you snip away dead or leggy growth, giving your succulent a fresh start.
- Container or pot: Choose a container with drainage holes. Like most plants, succulents don’t want to feel stuck in a bathtub without a drain.
Choosing the Right Pot and Fresh Soil
Go for a pot slightly larger than your succulent’s current pot. You want it spacious but not so big that it feels empty and lonely. The bigger pot needs drainage holes, and the new soil should be well-draining to prevent your plants from getting waterlogged. You can buy a specialized succulent mix or create your own by adding sand or perlite to regular, fresh potting soil.
When repotting succulents, safety comes first, always! Some succulent plants come armed with tiny spines that can prick you. Wear garden gloves to keep your hands safe from surprise attacks. Have a tarp or newspaper handy to catch any rogue soil that tries to escape during repotting.
How to Repot Succulents Like a Pro?
Firstly, give your succulent plant a good drink. Watering a day or two before repotting will make the soil less crumbly and reduce the risk of root damage.
Secondly, gently tip the entire pot over to the side and tap it to loosen the soil. Slowly and carefully slide the succulent plant out. If it’s stubbornly stuck, use a gentle twisting motion to encourage it out.
Then, once you’ve freed your succulent root system from the old soil, peek at its roots. Look for any signs of rot or damage. If you spot some, trim them with clean pruning shears.
After that, select a new pot that’s just slightly larger than the current pot. This will give your succulent room to grow but prevent it from feeling lost in a vast space.
Fill the bottom of the new pot with a layer of well-draining succulent or cactus soil mix. Create a small mound in the center to place the succulent.
Position your succulent in the center of the new pot, ensuring it’s at the same depth as in the old pot.
Fill in the space around the succulent with the fresh soil mix. Pat the soil down gently to remove air pockets, but don’t tightly compact it with too much moisture.
Finally, give your freshly repotted succulent a light watering to help settle the soil. Be cautious not to overwater; just a gentle sip will do.
Place your repotted succulent in a spot with bright, indirect sunlight. Avoid direct sunlight for a few days to allow your plant to acclimate to its new home and develop new growth.
After you repot your succulents, adjusting your watering schedule is essential. Succulents need less water initially to prevent root rot. Gradually increase the watering as your succulent settles into its new pot.
Keep a close eye on your succulent in the days and first few weeks following repotting. If you notice any wilting, yellowing, or other signs of stress, make adjustments accordingly.
What Are Some Creative Ways to Repot Succulents?
Get your creative juices flowing and let your imagination run wild when you repot your succulents.
Using Unique Containers
Repotting succulents in vintage teacups or teapots adds a charming and whimsical touch.
Create a rustic, natural look by planting succulent plants in hollowed-out logs or pieces of driftwood. These unique containers add a touch of the great outdoors to your indoor space.
Turn a mishap into a masterpiece by repotting succulents in broken clay pots. Arrange the pieces creatively to give the illusion of a miniature succulent landscape spilling out of the shards.
Combine Different Succulent Varieties
Mix and match succulent varieties with contrasting colors, textures, and sizes in a single container.
Follow the “thriller, filler, spiller” design principle. Place a tall, eye-catching succulent (the thriller) in the center, surround it with smaller, complementary succulents (the filler), and let some trailing varieties spill over the edges (the spiller).
Repotting succulents with various colors to create a rainbow-themed garden will give you a vibrant spectrum in one pot.
DIY Succulent Arrangements
Craft a vertical succulent garden by attaching succulents to a wooden frame or a vertical planter. These living artworks are perfect for decorating walls and adding a touch of greenery to small spaces.
Create your miniature succulent worlds in glass or plastic containers. Layer sand, pebbles, and succulent soil for a stunning terrarium base. Then, arrange your succulents creatively, adding small stones or decorative elements for extra flair.
Craft a living wreath by attaching succulent cuttings to a wire wreath frame. The succulents will form a lush, circular, unique garden as they grow.
What Are the Common Mistakes to Avoid?
- Overwatering: One of the most common mistakes is overwatering succulents. These plants prefer to dry out between waterings, so resist the urge to drown them. Remember, they’re more like camels than fish regarding water intake.
- Choosing the wrong pot: Selecting a pot without drainage holes can lead to waterlogged soil and root rot. Always opt for pots with adequate drainage to keep your succulent roots happy.
- Using the wrong soil: Regular potting soil retains too much moisture for succulents. Use a well-draining succulent or cactus mix, or amend regular soil with sand or perlite.
- Ignoring sunlight needs: Succulents love sunlight but can get sunburned if exposed to scorching afternoon rays. Find the right balance between light and shade to keep them thriving.
Dealing with Root-Bound Succulents
- Gentle repotting: If you encounter a root-bound succulent with a tangled mess of roots, be patient during repotting. Gently tease the roots apart, and consider trimming excessively long or damaged roots before transplanting.
- Bigger pot: When moving a root-bound succulent to a larger pot, choose a size that allows growth. Gradually increase the pot size to prevent overpotting.
- Regular maintenance: Keep an eye on your succulent’s root growth and repot as needed to prevent it from becoming severely root-bound.
Preventing and Addressing Overwatering Issues
- Use the “Soak and Dry” method: Water your succulents thoroughly but infrequently. Wait until the soil is completely dry before watering again. Stick your finger in the soil – if it’s dry an inch or two deep, it’s time to water.
- Well-draining pots and soil: Ensure your pot has drainage holes and use well-draining soil to prevent excess moisture retention.
- Lift the pot: If you’re unsure about watering, lift the pot. A dry pot will be significantly lighter than a wet one, providing a tactile way to gauge moisture levels.
- Addressing overwatered succulents: If you suspect overwatering, remove the succulent from its pot, let the roots air dry for a day or two, and replant in dry soil. This can help salvage an overwatered plant.
Fertilizing After Repotting
- Wait a few weeks: It’s best to postpone fertilizing for a few weeks after repotting. Your succulent needs time to settle into its new home.
- Use a balanced fertilizer: Choose a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer specifically formulated for succulents or cacti. Follow the recommended dilution and application instructions.
- Fertilize sparingly: During the growing season (typically spring and summer), fertilize once a month or less frequently. In fall and winter, reduce or eliminate fertilization since succulents tend to be less active.
What Happens If the Repotting Is Unsuccessful?
Signs of an Unsuccessful Repotting
- Wilting and drooping: If your succulent’s leaves start to wilt and droop despite proper care, it might indicate that the repotting process caused stress. Give it some time to adjust and perk up.
- Yellowing or browning leaves: Yellow or brown leaves can indicate overwatering or damaged roots during repotting. Adjust your watering routine and consider checking the roots for damage.
- Slow growth or no growth: A lack of development or stunted growth after repotting could be due to various factors, including poor soil quality or insufficient sunlight. Ensure your succulent has the right conditions for growth.
- Mushy or blackened stem/base: A mushy or blackened stem or base is a clear sign of overwatering and root rot. Immediate action is required to save the succulent.
Remedies for Root Rot and Other Issues
- Identify and remove affected roots: If you suspect root rot, carefully remove the succulent from the pot, trim any mushy or blackened roots with clean pruning shears, and let the remaining roots air dry for a day.
- Repot in dry soil: Plant the succulent in fresh, well-draining soil and ensure the pot has proper drainage. Avoid watering for a few days to allow the roots to recover.
- Adjust watering: Adjust your watering schedule to prevent future occurrences of root rot. Water sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out between waterings.
- Isolate infected plants: If you have multiple succulents in close proximity, isolate the infected one to prevent the spread of root rot.
- Consider a fungicide: In severe cases, you can use a succulent-safe fungicide to treat the soil and prevent the spread of fungal infections.
- Monitor and prune: Monitor your succulent for signs of stress and prune away any damaged or unhealthy growth to promote recovery.
When should I repot my succulents?
The ideal time for repotting succulents is during their active growing season, typically in early spring or summer. However, if you notice signs of overcrowding, slow growth, or other indications that your succulent needs more space, feel free to repot it regardless of the season.
Do you repot succulents in wet or dry soil?
It is advisable to repot succulents in somewhat dry soil. Water your succulent for a few days before repotting to give moisture, soften the soil, and reduce the risk of damaging the roots.
Is it easy to repot succulents?
Repotting succulents can be relatively easy with the right tools and techniques. While it may seem daunting initially, especially if you’re new to gardening, following a step-by-step guide and taking your time can make the process straightforward and rewarding.
Do I water succulents after repotting?
Yes, giving your succulent a light watering after repotting is a good practice. This helps settle the soil and reduces the risk of air pockets around the roots. However, avoid overwatering; a gentle sip is sufficient.
Do succulents need sun?
Yes, succulents generally need ample sunlight to thrive. They are adapted to arid and sunny conditions, so providing them with bright, indirect, or direct sunlight for a portion of the day is essential. However, be cautious not to expose them to intense, scorching afternoon sun, which can lead to sunburn.
Getting Down and Dirty: A Succulent Repotting Adventure
Knowing how to repot succulents is an art form, a nurturing act, and a way to ensure your succulent superstars continue to shine brightly in your garden or home.
By now, you’ve become the maestro of repotting succulents, armed with the right tools, timing, and techniques to ensure your succulents survive and thrive. You’ve discovered the joys of creative repotting, experimenting with unique containers and succulent combinations that transform your garden into a living masterpiece.
Are you Tired of Being a Serial Plant Killer?
Our easy-to-follow plant care pages have watering secrets to keep your plants hydrated and pest control tips that will send unwanted visitors packing.
Need help deciding what plant to add to your collection? Check out our houseplant guides and find out what plants will spruce up your space in no time.
Join our gardening clan, swap stories, and brag about your plant babies. Get in touch with us and share your obsession with all things green and leafy.