How To Repot Succulents? The Complete Guide

Repotting succulents is easy and can be an enjoyable activity if we follow a few simple rules. Having healthy and happy 'plants' will create a balanced and happy household, as well as give you a positive outlook on life.

Repotting succulents can seem like it may be a difficult task, but it does not have to be. At some point, your succulents will need to be repotted. You may notice, over time, that the soil needs to be replaced or that the succulent itself has outgrown its current pot. 

The process is simple, but you need to understand when to begin repotting your succulents. Once you know when and why you should repot them, you will be able to repot them effortlessly. Read on to discover how to repot succulents and why it is important for promoting the health and longevity of succulents.

Gather Your Materials

When repotting your succulent, there will be a few items you need on hand before you can begin. You will need the following items:

  • The succulent you wish to repot. If you are propagating your succulent, you will need the flower or part of the succulent you wish to repot. 
  • A new pot. The new pot should be larger than the previous one. It should also have good drainage, so avoid glass pots. Moreover, try to get a pot that is at least two inches wider than the succulent. This will provide enough room for the roots. 
  • A small gardener’s shovel. You will need a small shovel, also known as a trowel, to take the succulent out of one pot and into the other. It can also be used to fill the new pot with fresh soil. 
  • New soil for the new pot. You will need nutrient-rich soil designed specifically for succulents or cacti. You can buy this type of soil in most home garden shops. 
  • Water. You will need to water the plant before you repot it, so make sure you have some water beforehand. 
  • Decorative stones (optional). This is purely optional, but you may decide to add some decorative stones to the top of the soil, which can add a nice aesthetic to the new pot. 
To repot a succulent, gather basic materials and tools, such as a pot, shovel, soil, water, and decorative stones.

Collect your materials and set them aside. It is important to water your succulent before repotting it, not afterward. However, you do not want to overwater it, either. You want just enough water to fill the plant up without making the soil too bogged down. The idea is to give the succulent the strength to take root in the new soil. 

You do not want to water directly after repotting. The roots need to take hold in the new pot, and excessive water can destroy the roots and ruin your succulents. 

Now, once you have watered the plant and let it rest for a little, it is time to repot the succulent. 

Know When to Repot Your Succulent

A succulent is a delicate houseplant that does not require a lot of attention to keep alive. It is one of the reasons why many people want to have them. Many succulents can be left alone for weeks and still be healthy and growing. 

Besides occasional watering, some maintenance should be done with your succulents. As with all plants that are placed within a pot, it will eventually outgrow it.

You will need to repot your succulent if the plant outgrows the pot.

It is important to keep in mind the best time to repot your succulents. Consider the following when deciding if it is the right time to repot. 

  • 12-18 months for most succulents. For most succulents, a good range to aim for is one to one and a half years. So, your succulent will most likely be okay if it has been in its current pot for under this amount of time. However, if it has been in the pot longer than 18 months, then it is time to repot. 
  • No more than 2 weeks for a new succulent. A new succulent that you buy in the store will need to be repotted quickly. You should never wait more than two weeks to do this. The reason is that the pots they come in are often flimsy and too small. The succulent will quickly outgrow these pots. 
  • Repot just before dormancy. Most succulents have a dormant period, either summer or winter. The best time to repot a succulent is just before the dormant period begins. For example, if your succulent becomes dormant in winter, you should repot it in late autumn. 

You may find that your succulent needs to be repotted well before 18 months. Moreover, you may also find that your succulents can survive in the same pot for longer than 18 months. This is why it is important to monitor the condition of your succulents to know the best time to repot them.  

Monitor Your Succulents

Before you can gather your materials, you need to make sure your succulent needs to be repotted. You need to know the signs of a succulent that needs to be repotted. 

How long a succulent has been in a pot is just one factor that goes into when it should be repotted. There are a multitude of reasons why you may need to repot your succulents before the period is over. 

Although succulents do not require much attention, you still need to monitor them to determine whether they need repotting.

You must monitor your succulents throughout the year. While succulents do not need much attention, they still do need some attention. If you are not sure whether your succulent needs to be repotted, consider some of the following reasons.

  • The soil is old
  • The soil dries too quickly
  • The succulent is not absorbing the water
  • The succulent outgrows the pot
  • You need to propagate the succulent
  • The succulent is new
  • You are not sure the last time you repotted the succulent

Understanding why each of these reasons can lead to having to repot your succulents is crucial. This way you will know exactly when to begin the process. If you wait too long, you can cause damage to your succulents. 

The Soil Is Old

Whether you used some fertilizer or not, the soil for a succulent will need to be replaced at a certain point. The succulent will want fresh soil to help get the nutrients it needs. 

Now, this does not mean that every time your succulents need new soil you have to repot. You can simply add some new soil or fertilizer to its existing pot. However, there will come a point when you must change all the soil. To do this, you must repot the entire succulent. 

Fresh soil allows succulents to absorb more nutrients, making them grow healthier.

You can fill the entire new pot with new, fresh soil, and you may also decide to fill it with some succulent fertilizer. However, be sure that the soil you are using in the new pot is specifically for succulents, and do not use sand. 

The Soil Dries Too Quickly

Many of the reasons to repot a succulent revolve around the soil. When you water your succulent, it should take anywhere from one to two weeks to dry completely. Once it is dry, you must water it again. But what happens if it is drying up too quickly?

If you are not used to succulents, you may not notice how quickly the soil is drying up. However, you need to monitor this. If the soil is drying up in under a week (or even just a few hours), it may be a sign that you need to repot your succulent. 

When the soil drains too quickly, it means that the root system is probably outgrowing the inside of the pot. When there are too many roots, the succulent uses up more water than you are used to. A pot can only hold so much water, so you will need a larger pot when you replant it. 

The Succulent is Not Absorbing the Water

If, when you water the succulent, you discover that the water is not being absorbed, this can also be a sign that the root system is too big for the current pot. It is also a sign that the pot is too small. 

If you have noticed that your succulent does not absorb enough water, it may be because the pot is too small.

When you water succulents, you want the soil in the pot to be completely saturated. However, this does not mean that the water should be pooling on top of the pot. Additionally, the soil itself should dry out in a week or two, and if it is not drying out then it means your succulent has outgrown its current pot. 

The Succulent Outgrows the Pot

A succulent can outgrow its pot in several ways that you can see. Of course, as mentioned, the root system outgrowing the soil can be difficult to tell unless you pay attention to how the water is being absorbed (or not being absorbed, sometimes). Consider the following signs that your succulent is outgrowing its pot. 

  • The roots are protruding from the drainage holes. When the roots begin to show themselves, you will know it is time to repot. If the roots begin to stick out of the drainage holes in the pot, it means that there is no longer adequate space for the root system to grow. 
  • The roots are resting atop the soil. The roots, when they have nowhere to go, can grow upward and begin resting on top of the soil. This is a sign your succulent has completely outgrown its pot. 
  • The succulent does not look healthy anymore. If you are taking care of your succulent properly (i.e. watering at proper intervals, providing adequate light and water), but it is looking sickly, it is a sign that you need to repot the succulent. The soil has lost its nutrients and will need to be replaced with fresh soil. Repotting will revitalize your succulents. 
  • The succulent is in danger of falling over. Succulents can grow very large, and if it is getting so large it is in danger of falling over, it means the pot it resides in is too small to provide an adequate base for the plant. 
  • The succulent is not growing anymore. You will notice that your succulent is growing when the pot is the proper size and the soil has the proper nutrients. When a succulent outgrows its pot and needs new soil, it may stop growing. When you notice your plant not getting any bigger, it may be time to replant. 

Due to the low maintenance required for a succulent, it is easy to forget that it is a living, growing organism. Therefore, it will grow and get bigger, which means it will outgrow its pot. Remember, the two main reasons for repotting are that the succulent has outgrown the pot and that the soil needs to be replenished. 

The Succulent is New

When you buy a new succulent, it is most likely going to come in a small, plastic pot. As with most plants you buy, you do not want to keep it in the pot it came in. The biggest reason is that the pot is too small. Additionally, it is usually flimsy and cannot handle the demands of the succulent. 

Once you have bought a new succulent, you need to repot it as soon as you can—preferably in under two weeks. You should never wait longer than two weeks, however. 

You Are Not Sure the Last Time You Repotted

Many folks decide to get succulents because they do not require a lot of work to keep alive. Many succulents can be forgotten for short periods and still turn out okay. 

However, over time, this can negatively impact the succulent. If you have never repotted the succulent, and have had it over a year, or you cannot remember when you last repotted your succulent, it is probably time to repot. 

You do not want to take the risk and go too long without repotting your succulent because you may lose the succulent in the process. 

Fill the New Pot With Fresh Soil

You need to follow a few basic steps to repot your succulent, but they are easy. When followed, you will have nothing to worry about. 

When it is time to begin the physical process of repotting your succulent, you need to fill the new pot with fresh soil. Consider the following aspects of filling the pot. 

Once you have filled the new pot with new soil, you will be ready to remove the succulent from its old pot. 

Gently Remove the Succulent

Next, you need to remove the succulent from its current pot. You want to be careful when you do this step because a succulent is delicate. You do not want to accidentally break the succulent or damage its roots. 

For this step, you will need the trowel. You will dig around the root system to remove it. Follow these steps to successfully remove the succulent from its pot:

  • Take the trowel and gently dig around the base of the succulent
  • Make sure not to dig too close to the stem
  • Dig deep enough to get under the bottom of the root system

If you do this step correctly, the entire succulent should wiggle free from the old soil and easily come out of the pot.

Remove the Excess Dirt Off the Roots

Once the succulent and its root system are free from the old pot, it is time to shake the excess dirt off the roots. When you remove a plant from its soil, you will notice the roots are caked with dirt. 

You do not want this excess soil to mix with the new, nutrient-rich soil. Before moving the succulent to its new pot, be sure to get rid of the excess dirt. There are a few methods you can use to remove the dirt. 

  • Gently shake the succulent and the root system
  • Using the trowel, gently tap the excess dirt, which will cause it to fall off
  • Use your hand to brush away the excess dirt
Remove the excess dirt from the succulent roots so that the old soil is not mixed with the fresh one.

The most important thing to remember is that you must be gentle when you remove the dirt. You do not need to vigorously shake the succulent to remove the excess dirt. Moreover, you do not need to remove every last particle of dirt. The last thing you want is to damage the succulent with violent shaking or hard brushing. 

Dig a Hole in the New Soil

The next step involves the trowel and the new pot that is filled with the new soil. Before you can place the succulent in its new home, you must dig a proper hole for it. Consider these aspects of the succulent’s new hole before you begin digging.

  • Make the hole shallow
  • Make the hole wide enough for the entire root system
  • Use the excess dirt from the hole to help secure the succulent later 

Remember, the hole does not need to be very large. You do not want to dig a hole that is too big or one that is too small. As long as it will comfortably fit the root system, you will be fine. 

Place the Succulent in the New Hole

Once you have dug the new hole with the proper dimensions, it is time to transfer the succulent. There are a few things to keep in mind when doing this step to avoid any mishaps with the succulent. 

  • Gently place the succulent in the hole
  • Fill the hole with your hands and pat down 
  • Make sure the leaves of the succulent do not touch the soil

You do not want the succulent to touch the soil. When you water the succulent, you do not want the leaves to get wet or it could lead to mold.

After digging the hole in the fresh soil, gently place the succulent into the new pot.

Once you have successfully transplanted your succulent into its new pot, you may add the decorative stones to the top. However, be sure to allow enough space between the rocks so that when you water the succulent, the water can reach the soil underneath. 

If you find that the succulent is latched onto the old pot because the roots have taken hold, you may have to break the old pot. Moreover, you may have to cut a few roots to get the succulent free. This likely will not happen, but if it does, do not worry. 

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