In this blog post, we’ll go over repotting succulents and how to know when it is time. Succulents are generally low maintenance plants that don’t need to be repotted often, but repotting succulents can help keep them healthy and thriving.
How Do You Know When To Repot A Succulent?
- The plant has outgrown its current pot: If the roots of the succulent are visible through the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot, or if the plant is leaning because it’s too large for the pot, it’s time to repot it.
- The soil is no longer draining properly: Over time, soil can become compacted and lose its ability to drain water properly. If you notice that the soil remains soggy for long periods after watering, it’s a sign that it’s time to repot.
- The plant looks unhealthy: If your succulent is looking pale or sickly, it could be a sign that it needs to be repotted. Poor soil quality or a pot that’s too small can lead to a variety of health issues for your plant.
Wait until the succulent is actively growing, rather than in a dormant phase, to repot so it has the best chance at thriving in its new pot.
You might also like: Succulent Dormancy: 4 Easy Ways to Tell if Your Succulent is Going Dormant
Repotting succulents when the plant is root-bound
Succulents should be repotted when they outgrow their current pot or become root-bound, meaning the roots are tightly packed in the pot and there is no room for further growth. To determine if a plant is root-bound, gently remove it from the pot and examine the roots. If the roots are tightly packed and spiraling around the bottom of the pot, it’s time to repot.
If a succulent is root bound, it means that the roots of the plant have become crowded and are growing in circles around the inside of the pot. This can cause a variety of problems for the plant, including limited access to water and nutrients, reduced growth, and increased susceptibility to disease.
In order to fix a root bound succulent, you will need to carefully remove the plant from its pot and loosen the roots before replanting it in a larger container with fresh soil. It is important to be gentle when handling the roots and to avoid breaking or damaging them as much as possible. If the roots are severely tangled or damaged, you may need to trim them before replanting.
Choose The Right Soil When Repotting A Succulent
It’s critical to use the correct soil and containers when repotting succulents. Succulents have special soil requirements, therefore it’s critical to use a well-draining, not-too-wet soil mix. Succulent-specific soil is available at your local garden center, or you may prepare your own by combining equal parts potting soil, perlite, and coarse sand. Choose pots with drainage holes to prevent extra water from gathering.
How to Choose the Perfect Pot Size for Repotting Your Succulent
When repotting your succulent, choosing the right pot size is crucial for its growth and health. One common mistake succulent owners make is using a pot that is too big, which can lead to overwatering and root rot. On the other hand, using a pot that is too small can stunt the growth of your succulent and cause it to become root-bound.
You might also like: Root Rot in Succulents: How to Identify and Treat the Problem
Consider the Size of Your Succulent
The first step in choosing the right pot size is to consider the size of your succulent. As a general rule, your new pot should be only slightly larger than the root ball of your succulent. If your succulent has outgrown its current pot, then it’s time to repot it. Choose a pot that is just big enough to accommodate the roots and allow for some growth. A good rule of thumb is to choose a pot that is 1-2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot.
Choose a Pot with Good Drainage
Another factor to consider when choosing the right pot size for your succulent is the drainage. Succulents need well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes to prevent overwatering and root rot. When selecting a new pot, ensure that it has drainage holes and choose a size that allows water to flow through the soil and out of the pot. If you are repotting a small succulent, you may want to consider using a pot with multiple drainage holes to increase the airflow and drainage.
Think About the Type of Succulent You Are Repotting
Different types of succulents have varying root systems and growth habits, so it’s essential to consider the type of succulent when selecting a new pot. Some succulents have shallow root systems, while others have deeper roots that require a larger pot. For example, a cactus with a taproot may need a deeper pot than a shallow-rooted Echeveria. Do your research to determine the specific needs of your succulent and choose a pot that will accommodate its growth habits.
Consequences of Using a Pot That is Too Big
When a plant is overpotted, the extra soil in the pot can retain moisture, leading to soggy soil that stays wet for too long. This can cause the roots of the plant to rot, leading to root damage and death.
In addition to root rot, overpotting can also result in reduced plant growth. The plant’s roots can become confined in the soil and have difficulty spreading out, which can limit their ability to absorb water and nutrients. This can result in a weakened plant that is less able to grow and produce new leaves and stems. The plant will focus more on growing roots rather than growing new leaves.
Furthermore, overpotting can also lead to a buildup of excess salt and mineral deposits in the soil, which can be harmful to the plant. The excess soil in the pot also creates a larger surface area that can evaporate moisture, making it more difficult to maintain consistent soil moisture levels.
How to Repot a Succulent Step-By-Step
Before you start, gather all the supplies you’ll need, including a new pot, well-draining soil mix, gardening gloves, and a small trowel or spoon for scooping soil. Make sure your new pot has drainage holes to ensure proper drainage.
Prepare the Soil and Pot
Mix your well-draining soil mix in a separate container, adding in sand, perlite, or pumice as needed. Fill the bottom of your new pot with a layer of soil, about 1-2 inches deep.
Remove the Succulent from Its Current Pot
Gently remove the succulent from its current pot, being careful not to damage the stem or roots. If the roots are tangled or compacted, use a clean brush or your fingers to gently loosen them.
Remove Old Soil and Trim Roots
Gently remove any old soil from the roots, being careful not to damage them. Trim any dead or damaged roots with a sanitized, sharp pair of scissors.
Place the Succulent in the New Pot
Place the succulent in the center of the new pot, making sure it is level and not tilted to one side. Add more soil around the roots, gently pressing it down with your fingers or trowel as you go.
Do succulents like a shallow or deep pot?
Succulents generally prefer shallow pots because they have shallow root systems. They also prefer pots with drainage holes to prevent excess water from accumulating and potentially causing root rot. However, the size of the pot can also depend on the size of the succulent itself. A smaller succulent will do well in a smaller pot, while a larger succulent may need a deeper pot to accommodate its size. It is important to choose a pot that is appropriately sized for the succulent to ensure its health and growth.
Succulent Care After Repotting
- Water sparingly for the first week or two after repotting. Succulents need time to adjust to their new soil and pot, and overwatering can lead to root rot.
- Avoid direct sunlight for the first few days after repotting. Succulents can be sensitive to sudden changes in lighting, so it’s best to gradually introduce them to brighter light.
- Keep an eye on the soil moisture level. You can check the moisture level by sticking your finger about an inch into the soil. If it’s dry, it’s time to water.
- Fertilize sparingly. Succulents don’t need a lot of fertilization, and using too much can actually harm them. Stick to a balanced, diluted fertilizer and use it every few weeks during the growing season.
- Monitor for pests. Keep an eye out for common succulent pests like mealybugs, aphids, and spider mites. If you do notice any pests, use an appropriate treatment to get rid of them before they cause too much damage.
Succulent fertilizer available to purchase on Etsy.
Can I repot a succulent that is already showing signs of stress or illness?
Repotting succulents is generally not recommended if it is already showing signs of stress or illness, as the process of repotting can be stressful for the plant and may exacerbate its existing issues.
If you are concerned about a succulent that is showing signs of stress or illness, it is best to try to identify and address the cause of the issue rather than repotting the plant.
Transplant Shock in Succulents After Repotting
Transplant shock is a common problem that occurs when a plant is moved or transplanted from one location to another. During the transplanting process, the plant’s roots can become damaged, leading to a range of negative effects on the plant’s overall health and growth.
Causes of Transplant Shock in Succulents
Damage to roots during transplanting
One of the main causes of transplant shock in succulents is damage to the roots during the transplanting process. When the roots are damaged, the plant is unable to absorb water and nutrients effectively, which can lead to a range of problems.
Incorrect planting depth
Incorrect planting depth is another cause of transplant shock in succulents. If the plant is planted too deep, the roots may not receive enough light and air, leading to stunted growth and other problems. On the other hand, if the plant is planted too shallow, the roots may dry out and become damaged.
Poor soil quality
Poor soil quality can also contribute to transplant shock in succulents. Succulents require gritty, well-draining soil in order to thrive, and if the soil is too heavy or lacks proper drainage, the roots may become waterlogged and rot.
Consider amending your soil with Bonsai Jack’s gritty mix to ensure your succulent soil drains quickly to prevent it from staying moist for too long. Source: Etsy
Lack of moisture
Lack of moisture is another factor that can lead to transplant shock in succulents. Succulents require a certain amount of moisture in order to grow and thrive, and if they do not receive enough water before being removed from their original pot, they may experience transplant shock.
When you’re rooting or transplanting your succulents and cacti, use SUPERthrive to help reduce the chance of transplant shock and grow a strong root system.
Symptoms of Transplant Shock in Succulents
Wilting or yellowing of leaves
One of the most common symptoms of transplant shock in succulents is wilting or yellowing of the leaves. This is often a sign that the plant is not receiving enough water or nutrients, and it may indicate that the roots are damaged or not functioning properly.
Stunted growth is another symptom of transplant shock in succulents. If the plant is not growing as quickly as it should be, or if it appears to be struggling to grow at all, it may be experiencing transplant shock.
Dry, brittle leaves
Dry, brittle leaves are another sign of transplant shock in succulents. This is often a sign that the plant is not receiving enough moisture, and it may indicate that the roots are not able to absorb water effectively.
Preventing Transplant Shock in Succulents
- Choose a healthy, disease-free plant
- Handle roots gently during transplanting
- Plant at the correct depth
- Use well-draining soil
- Water regularly but avoid overwatering
You might also like: How to Grow Succulents Indoors Without Killing Them
Selecting a Healthy Succulent
When choosing a succulent to transplant, it is important to select a plant that is healthy and free from disease. This will give the plant the best chance of surviving the transplanting process and thriving in its new location.
Gently Handling the Roots
To prevent damage to the roots during transplanting, it is important to handle the plant gently and avoid pulling or tugging on the roots. Instead, use a sharp knife or scissors to carefully cut through the roots, taking care not to damage them.
Planting at the Correct Depth
Succulents should be planted at the same depth they were previously growing. Planting the base of the plant too deep or too shallow can lead to transplant shock.
Using Well-Draining Soil
Succulents require well-draining soil in order to thrive, and using a soil mix that is specifically formulated for succulents can help to prevent transplant shock.
Watering regularly is important for preventing transplant shock in succulents, but it is also important to avoid overwatering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which can further contribute to transplant shock.
Treating Transplant Shock in Succulents
If a succulent is experiencing transplant shock, there are a few steps that can be taken to try and revive it.
Increasing Watering Frequency
Increasing the watering frequency can help to replenish any moisture that has been lost and may help to revive the plant.
Protecting the Plant from Extreme Temperatures
Succulents are sensitive to both extreme heat and extreme cold, and exposing them to these conditions can cause additional stress. Protecting the plant from extreme temperatures can help to prevent transplant shock.
Fertilizing with a Balanced Fertilizer
Providing the plant with the nutrients it needs to recover and begin growing again can be helpful for treating transplant shock.
Using a Rooting Hormone
In some cases, using a rooting hormone may also be helpful for treating transplant shock in succulents. Rooting hormones can help to stimulate the growth of new roots, which can help the plant to recover.
4 Common Mistakes to Avoid When Repotting Succulents
Choosing the Wrong Pot Size
Choosing the wrong pot size is a common mistake that can harm your succulent. A pot that is too large can lead to overwatering, while a pot that is too small can limit the growth of the roots and plant. To avoid this mistake, choose a pot that is only slightly larger than the current one, allowing room for growth over time.
Using the Wrong Soil Mix
Succulents require well-draining soil, as they are prone to root rot if the soil remains too moist. Using regular garden soil or a heavy potting mix can lead to issues. Instead, use a soil mix that includes ingredients like sand, perlite, or pumice. These materials help improve drainage and keep the soil from retaining too much moisture.
Watering Too Soon After Repotting
Watering your succulent too soon after repotting can harm the plant, as it needs time to adjust to its new pot and soil. Wait a few days before watering your succulent after repotting, giving the roots time to settle into their new environment. When you do water, do so sparingly, allowing the soil to dry out completely between waterings.
Damaging the Roots During Repotting
When repotting your succulent, be careful not to damage the roots. Gently remove the plant from its current pot, being careful not to tug or pull on the stem or roots. If the roots are tangled or compacted, you can use a clean brush or your fingers to gently loosen them. Avoid cutting or tearing the roots, as this can harm the plant and impede its growth.
How to Sanitize Terracotta Pots Before Repotting
Here are some effective methods for sanitizing terracotta pots:
- Bleach solution – Mix 1 part bleach to 9 parts water. Scrub the pot thoroughly inside and out with the solution. Rinse very well.
- Vinegar – Fill or submerge the pot in undiluted white vinegar for 1-2 hours. Scrub and rinse clean afterwards.
- Boiling water – Fill the pot with water and heat until actively boiling for 10 minutes. Empty and allow to air dry.
- Hydrogen peroxide – Spray or wipe 3% hydrogen peroxide over the surface and let it sit for several minutes before rinsing.
- Isopropyl alcohol – Wipe down the interior and exterior surfaces with 70% isopropyl alcohol and let air dry.
- Baking – Place the pot upside down on a baking sheet and bake at 200°F for 30 minutes. The heat will kill pathogens.
- Sunlight – Leave the pot in direct sunlight for a full day. The UV rays help disinfect.
- Salt scrub – Make a thick paste of salt and water. Scrub surfaces and let sit briefly before rinsing thoroughly.
Be sure pots are fully cleaned and rinsed after sanitizing. A good scrubbing with soap and water first is also recommended to remove dirt or mineral deposits before disinfecting the pot.
Why should you sanitize terracotta pots before reusing them?
Here are some key reasons why it’s important to sanitize terracotta pots before reusing them:
- Prevent disease spread – Sterilizing kills fungi, bacteria, and pathogens that can infect plants. This prevents transmitting diseases from an infected plant to a healthy one later on.
- Reduce pests – Sanitizing eliminates insects, eggs, or larvae that might be present in used pots and soil. This prevents reintroducing pests to your plants.
- Remove chemical residues – Disinfecting breaks down leftover fertilizer, pesticide, or other chemical deposits that could harm new plants.
- Eliminate mold and mildew – Terracotta is porous and can harbor mold spores over time. Sanitizing prevents mold growth issues.
- Improve plant health – Your plants will have a healthier start without having to compete with pathogens left over in reused pots.
- Avoid salt buildup – Disinfecting removes accumulated mineral deposits and salts from watering. This provides a neutral growing environment.
- Extend pot lifespan – Thorough cleaning and sanitizing helps terracotta pots last longer with repeated uses.
Taking the time to properly sterilize old pots is a simple way to protect your plants and promote their overall health when reusing terracotta containers.
By repotting succulents when they are pot-bound and using the right soil and containers, you can keep your plants healthy and thriving. Remember to gently remove the plant from the pot, trim the roots if necessary, and repot the plant in the new pot. Transplant shock is a common problem that can be harmful to succulents. By understanding the causes and symptoms of transplant shock, and by taking steps to prevent and treat it, it is possible to ensure that your succulent thrives in its new location. With a little bit of care and attention, you can keep your succulents looking their best.