How do I re-pot a cactus?
The best time to re-pot a cactus is in the early spring when it begins actively growing. This can be a tricky undertaking as you have to protect yourself from the spikes as well as being careful with the plant. The use of tough leather gloves and wrapping the plant in layers of newspaper are reccomended. Cactus should only be moved up into a pot one size bigger as a pot that is too large will hold too much water and this can be detrimental to the plant. Use soil that is specifically for cactus which can be found in most nurseries & garden centres. If the cactus does not come easily out of the pot break the pot. This will prevent root damage. Once you have the cactus out of its old pot, inspect the roots to make sure it is not severly pot bound, diseased or infested with mealybugs. Loosen roots if necessary. Ideally, a clay pot should be used and a screening material or pottery shards should cover the drainage hole in order to let water drain out but also keep soil in the bottom. Add new soil to the bottom of the pot and then sit the cactus on top, checking that the base of the cactus comes to the lip of the pot – it is important that the cactus is not planted any lower that it was originally so no new soil on top. This is also a good time to straighten or re-position the plant. When the cactus is positioned correctly, fill in around the plant using a chopstick or bamboo skewer to poke the soil around the outside. A few gentle taps of the pot on the counter in an up-down motion will also help settle the new soil around the roots.