When a succulent has been sitting in soil for an extended period, issues beneath the surface may arise, and thus, they need to be addressed, such as root rot or insect infestation. For that reason, it’s essential to repot succulents from time to time — the question is, how often?
You should repot succulents at least every 12 to 18 months to ensure that the soil is healthy. Additionally, you should repot them before the growing season so that they can recover from the shift to new soil.
Read on to learn more about repotting succulents. I’ll also explain some of the primary reasons why it might be time to repot your succulents.
Why You Should Repot Succulents
Succulent owners will find themselves needing to repot their plants for a variety of reasons. While it’s good to repot your succulents from time to time to replenish nutrients, various circumstances can also arise, forcing you to repot your succulents sooner than you expected.
Here are 4 primary reasons why you might want to repot your succulents:
- You have recently purchased a succulent. If you’ve just bought a succulent, chances are, it’s placed in a small plastic container. It’s okay to keep the succulent in it for the first couple of weeks. However, don’t wait for more than that before repotting it. By then, the succulent will likely outgrow the container, so to ensure your plant’s root health, repot your plant.
- The succulent has outgrown its original pot. A succulent that has been in the same pot for an extended period since young should have a new home. Check the bottom of the pot. If you see roots coming out of the bottom, that means your succulent is getting too big for the pot.
- There’s a potential for root rot. Root rot can happen when the soil your succulent is in doesn’t drain properly. When this happens, water will accumulate and flood the pot. If the water doesn’t dry, it’ll rot your succulent’s roots. Whether or not the rot has spread to the stem of the plant will determine the severity of the issue, so if you’re repotting your succulents, you’ll want to check which portion of the plant has been damaged.
- The plant is looking unhealthy and beginning to fall over. If your succulent looks like it’s unbalanced and could fall over, you’ll want to consider giving it a larger pot. In addition, if you notice that your succulent starts to look diseased and unhealthy, repot it and diagnose any issue going on beneath the soil.
Materials You Need To Repot Succulents
If you’re brand new to succulent repotting, there are some essential items that you’ll want to purchase beforehand. These will keep you safe and make sure that the repotting process goes as smoothly as possible.
Here are some of the most important materials that you’ll need to repot your succulents:
This item is a given for repotting, but you need to make sure that you get a new pot to switch your succulent into. Ensure that there are drainage holes in the bottom so water doesn’t just sit in the pot. Clay and ceramic pots are popular choices because of their durability and appearance.
This is a small shovel that will be used to remove the plant from the pot it’s already in. If you don’t already have a trowel, I recommend this Gardtech Stainless Steel Transplanter (available on Amazon.com). Made of stainless steel, this trowel is durable, rust-resistant and has depth markers, so you know exactly how deep you dig.
This item is entirely optional but will be very useful to put over the drainage holes in the bottom of the pot. By putting it at the bottom of the pot, you still let water drain through the pot while stopping the soil from falling through the bottom.
Garden gloves are an essential material for repotting succulents for these reasons:
- They protect your hands from anything in the soil. This is especially essential if you’re taking dirt from your yard, as sharp items may hide in the soil.
- Gloves keep your hands clean. Without gardening gloves, you’re going to get soil and dirt underneath your fingernails. If you have cuts on your hands, you don’t want dirty things to get through them, potentially giving you infections.
If you don’t own a pair of garden gloves, I highly suggest a pair such as the Airmarch Garden Gloves with Claws (available on Amazon.com). These gloves are handy as they have claws that let you dig into the soil much easier. The gloves are made of latex, nylon, and ABS material and are available in various colors.
Pre-Mixed Potting Soil or Mix
If you repot your succulents, you’ll need good potting soil that’ll drain quickly. In the next section, I’ll review the different types of potting soils and places where you can buy them.
Types of Soil Mixes for Repotting
As mentioned earlier, succulents need potting soil that can quickly drain. If water is retained too well in the soil, your plants are at risk of root rot.
If you’re looking for the soil mixes outlined in this list, a great place to go is Mountain Crest Gardens. Not only do they sell succulents online, but they have a large variety of potting mixes that work well for succulents.
Here are 4 types of soil mixes for repotting:
- Regular Potting Soil: This type of soil drains pretty well and is readily available at any garden center. However, remember that standard potting mix may not work well for all succulents, especially those that need to drain quickly.
- Cactus Mix: Especially from the brand Black Gold, this potting mix works well for cacti and succulents that enjoy hot climates, as the soil will dry faster. Overall, it doesn’t drain quite as efficiently as the potting soil, so keep that in mind before buying it.
- Cactus Palm & Citrus Mix: This mix from Miracle-Gro soil drains pretty well and includes various nutrients that encourage succulent growth. It’s an excellent standard mix to use.
- Bonsai Jack Succulent and Cactus Soil: This is an excellent succulent mix that drains well, helping to prevent root rot. The only downside to a mix like this is that it’s on the pricier side and is only available online.
How To Repot Succulents
Now that you have all of the necessary materials for repotting succulents, you’re ready to repot your plants. All in all, repotting succulents is a very straightforward process. To do this, follow the steps below:
- Fill the new pot ¾ full with the potting mix. You want to partially fill the pot because it gives space for the succulent to go in and for dirt to cover the roots.
- Remove succulent very carefully from its current pot. At this stage, you want to be very careful with the roots. If you pull the succulent too hard, you risk ripping its roots. Massage the roots using your fingers, loosening them up and removing any excess soil. Doing this can help you diagnose any issues with your succulents, either by checking for root rot or a plant infestation.
- Dig a small hole in the pot using your fingers or a trowel. The pot’s hole should be large enough to fit your succulent’s roots in. Ensure they aren’t clumped together or squished in there. If you use a trowel or claws on gardening gloves, you can make a narrow hole that is just large enough to fit long roots.
- Put more dirt over the roots. While this seems like a natural next step in the process, many people tend to mess this up. When you’re covering the roots with soil, make sure that you don’t cover the plant’s leaves. By covering the leaves, you’re trapping them in the soil’s moisture, leading to the leaf rotting.
- Wait for a week before watering your succulent, unless it has already gone a long time without water. Especially as the succulent is adjusting to its new pot, you don’t want to overwater it. Give the succulent some time, and then try watering it again.
Soil and Plant Issues To Monitor
Because repotting is a crucial step in diagnosing any potential issues with your succulent, it’s good to be aware of the potential issues that can arise in your succulent that’ll require it to be repotted.
Below are examples of issues that your plant and its soil may experience:
Your Plant’s Roots Have Rot Due to Poor Draining
Root rot is an infection that occurs when water is left sitting with the roots for too long. When this happens, the roots will start to rot, spreading to the entire plant and eventually killing it. Don’t fret, however. In certain instances, your plant can be saved from root rot; it just depends on how much of the plant has been infected.
How To Take Care of Root Rot
When root rot occurs, you want to act as quickly as possible. Failing to do so will allow root rot to spread to the entire plant, which can quickly kill the succulent.
While it may or may not be too late, here are some critical steps in taking care of root rot:
- Check if the roots are dark brown or black. If the roots are brown or black, that means the succulent has developed root rot. Your plant will die if you don’t treat it.
- Dry out the roots. This will only work if the stem isn’t also rotten. Repot the succulent after a couple of days and let it air dry. When the issue is just in the roots, you can dry them out, helping to prevent future root rot.
- Trim the roots: You may have to trim the infected parts to stop the plant from dying. Cut a few centimeters above the infected part of the plant. Then, let the cuttings be callous, as that’ll improve your succulent’s chance of surviving.
- Use sulfur to powder the succulent roots. Sulfur is commonly used as an acidic substance for soil PH, so if you dust the roots when repotting, you’re protecting the succulent from bacteria. You should only be using sulfur when the roots are dry.
Insects Are Infesting Your Succulents
A variety of insects can nest themselves on your succulent, on either the roots or the leaves. These are important to address as quickly as possible as they can also kill your plant.
Common Types of Succulent Pests
One concerning issue that can occur when a succulent has been in the same soil for an extended period of time is insect infestations. Many different pests can take over your succulents, and when not addressed properly, can kill the plant.
I will discuss common types of succulent pests and suggest tips on how to fight them. Keep reading.
Mealybugs are the most common type of succulent pests. They are minuscule and are either light brown or gray. If you see a light white cotton substance covering your succulents, that is a sign that there may be mealybugs.
You can solve this issue by using rubbing alcohol and applying it to the bugs or the cotton substance. If they’re in the roots, you need to repot the succulent and rinse the roots.
These bugs are small brown bumps that appear on the succulents. You can either take these off by hand or use rubbing alcohol like with the mealy bugs. These bugs will be slightly different from mealybugs because they stick to the leaves or roots more. Make sure you scrape these insects off your succulent gently.
Aphids are like succulent lice that come in various varieties. Look around for small bright green colors; use soapy water to spray onto the infested areas. If they’re in the roots, wash off the roots like with the mealybugs.
It can be challenging to tell when your succulent is infested with spider mites. Usually, these bugs will form webs on your succulents, causing small brown spots on the leaves. These pets will kill your succulents if you don’t use rubbing alcohol to kill them.
You Soil Is Too Old
This issue mainly occurs when a succulent has been sitting in soil for more than a year and a half. At this point, the nutrients in the succulent have been depleted, making it hard for the succulent to thrive and flourish.
Succulents are relatively low maintenance, so leaving them alone for long periods without being repotted or pruned is pretty common.
The primary issue with old soil (older than 18 months) is that your succulent has been taking nutrients from the same soil for far too long.
If this happens, it’s no big deal; you’ll just want to switch out to a soil mix that drains better.
Benefits of Repotting Succulents
Repotting your succulents have a variety of benefits, depending on the reason why you’re repotting them.
Here are some universal benefits of repotting your succulents:
- Repotting your succulent after a long period is good for the plant’s health. When a succulent sits in soil for an extended period of time, the soil nutrients will become depleted. By repotting it, you’re restoring those nutrients. Many succulent owners who keep their plants in one container will notice a reduction in plant growth, which can be easily prevented by repotting your succulent.
- It’s an excellent way to check the plant’s health. Especially if your succulent is sitting somewhere for an extended period, it’s hard to gauge the health of the succulent. When you repot, you can check up on the roots and see if there is root rot. Additionally, you can check if insects or pests are hiding around.
- You can switch to a better potting mix. If the mix you’re using doesn’t drain well, succulent repotting allows you to choose a more healthy potting mix that will drain better. It’s a common problem among succulent soils that they lack proper drainage. If you purchase a potting mix tailored to succulents, however, you’ll find that it’ll drain much easier, contributing to your plant’s health.
- Your succulent may look better in a different pot. This is especially true if you’ve just purchased a succulent. Most of the time, succulents come in standard pots that are ready to be transplanted. If you’ve kept your succulent in one pot for its entire life, repotting it could make it more pleasing to the eye.
Succulent repotting is a simple process that depends on a variety of potential issues with your succulent.
To review, here are some of the essential points about repotting succulents:
- Don’t let your succulent go more than 18 months without being repotted to bring new nutrients to the plant.
- Succulents might have to be repotted for various reasons, such as insect infestations, old soil, or root rot.
- To repot your succulent, get the proper tools, and be gentle when taking your succulent out of its old pot. Give the plant some time before watering.