The Garden Community for Garden Lovers

Repotting a large cactus (repeated from my old page)


By hywel


Another repeated blog from my old deleted page :-

I have some cacti that I got many years ago as a teenager. Some of them have grown rather large now and can be difficult to handle when repotting. With smalish ones you can wind some newspaper around them, but with large ones this is not possible.

So here is how I do it.

This is a large Echinocereus which is quite pot-bound and should have been repotted some time ago

I select a pot slightly larger than the one it is in now :-

Well I say ‘slightly’ larger but this one is quite a bit bigger lol
It’s the only one I had at the time, but it’s the right size for the cactus.

Then I like to mix the soil myself, although it is possible to buy suitable ready made cactus soil these days. I think it’s because I always mixed my own years ago and I still like to do it.

I use John innes No 3

Multi purpose compost

Coarse grit

In the old days I used to collect gravel from the river bank but I don’t think that’s a wise thing to do now.

The books I have suggest the best soil for cacti consists of 2 parts loam, 1 part leaf mould, 1 part sharp sand, plus a small amount of lime and a little bit of charcoal . This is the mixture I would make in the old days.
These days I put 2 parts John Innes no 3, 1 part compost, and 1 part coarse grit

Put them in a bucket or something :-

And mix well

I find it best to mix the soil in small quantities – just enough for one plant at a time. In that way I think it prevents there being pockets of unmixed ingredients.

Then I put plenty of crocks for drainage.

Cacti like well drained soil.

I also put a layer of gravel with the crocks, but it isn’t essential :-

Now with a big cactus it can get stuck in the pot. I find it best to take it out when the soil is dry.

I put it on the ground and steady it with my (painful arthritic) knee ;o)

Then I prise it out of the pot with a fork :-

After taking out the old drainage crocks and loosening a bit of the roots, I carefully lift it with my hand from underneath the plant, and place it in the new pot :-

Hold it in place with a fork while filling in with the soil mixture

And there it is all nice and snug in its new home :o)

Then I give it a brush to get all the loose soil off

And give it a good watering, making sure it soaks right through.

I finish off by puting a layer of gravel on the top. It helps to keep the base of the cactus dry. You could use coloured pebbles or something similar if you like. There are lots of nice ones you can buy.

There it is on the wall to dry out. I will not water it again until it has completely dried out :-

Sometimes this Echinocereus has bright orange flowers on it. I’ve had it since I was 15 years old. We’ve grown up together :o))

More blog posts by hywel

Previous post: The Little Pottery Man

Next post: Wild Spring Flowers



Good blog Hywel...
I'm sure you've repotted this before ! LOL. :o)

24 Feb, 2010


Yes TT, quite a few times since 1965 lol :o)
It was tiny then

24 Feb, 2010


Lol. :o)

24 Feb, 2010


I enjoyed this Hywel,nice to see pics of how best to do it,with such a large plant.
It is a bit of a struggle,as I know from doing mine,but well worth the effort.Do you think this mixture would be ok for my Crassulas ?as I prefer to do my own too.

24 Feb, 2010


Succulents and cacti need very good drainage. I use the same mix for them all including Crassulas.

24 Feb, 2010


Thanks Hywel,will bear this in mind for next time they need doing.Very helpful:o)....

24 Feb, 2010


Very informative blog, Hywel. I didn't see it first time so it was all new to me :)
Thank you, now I know what to do with the one cacti I have when it needs re-potting.

24 Feb, 2010


Great blog Hywel, wondered how you did it with them being so prickley :o))

24 Feb, 2010


yes i remember this hywel, great blog and good demo lol and without a scratch to :o))

24 Feb, 2010


Be truthful Hywel you just love playing in the dirt lol, lovely blog thanks for showing how to repot without getting pricked by the cacti, it would be a good pedia to have one on repotting different varieties of plants.

24 Feb, 2010


Yes I do like being in the soil or clay when I make pots lol. Never been one for looking prim and proper lol :o)

24 Feb, 2010


Lol I knew it we are two of a kind then.

24 Feb, 2010


:o)) lol

24 Feb, 2010


Hywel, thanks for your very useful and interesting blog! I didn't have any idea of using a fork when dealing with cacti...Lol

25 Feb, 2010


Hywel I should have read this before I had my mishap with my cactus,I grabbed the paper after pricking myself, I `didn`t have any grit left, do you think it would be better to repot them again when I get some, although I have put crocks in the bottom of the pots......

27 Feb, 2010

Add a comment

Featured on

Recent posts by hywel

Members who like this blog

  • Gardening with friends since
    4 Feb, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    10 Nov, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    12 Jan, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    14 Aug, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    11 Apr, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    27 Oct, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    29 Mar, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    18 Sep, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    1 Apr, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    4 Apr, 2008

  • uma

    Gardening with friends since
    28 Oct, 2009

  • Gardening with friends since
    22 Oct, 2008

  • Gardening with friends since
    30 Dec, 2011