Despite being notoriously slow to grow and generally low-maintenance plants, succulents do need to be repotted from time to time, especially that they’re sold in small, tight-fitting containers that they’ll eventually outgrow.
Repotting is not only a measure to offer your plant a more spacious abode, but it’s also a good time to freshen up the potting medium and examine the roots for signs of disease or rotting.
In the following guide on repotting succulents, I aim to offer a primer for beginners on when to repot, how to repot, and what other things you need to know about transplanting succulents.
When to Repot Your Succulents?
There is a good time and a bad time to repot your succulents, and you should strive to narrow down the best time to repot them.
First, you need to consider the ideal season to transfer a succulent to a new pot. Apart from the dormancy period — which for most succulents is from late fall to late winter or early spring — the ideal time to repot is at the beginning of the growing season.
For winter-dormant succulents, the ideal time to repot them is in early spring. Summer-dormant succulents should be repotted in the fall.
Aside from the season, there are other things to watch out for, namely those that indicate that the plant is struggling because of a lack of space. These signs include:
- Roots sticking out of the pot holes or growing above the rim of the pot, signaling that the roots of your succulents are too tightly packed
- The plant looks unhealthy even with adequate watering, light and other care measures
- The soil drains too fast or it’s compacted and doesn’t soak through when watered
- There’s an increasing risk or incidence of the plant falling over because it becomes top heavy
These signs are a clear indication that it’s time to switch to a bigger and more spacious pot to accommodate the new roots system and to give your succulent a fresh potting medium.
Repotting Succulents – Step by Step
If you’re worried you might do something wrong in the process of transferring your succulent to a bigger pot, here’s a step-by-step walk-through of how to repot:
- Water the succulent two days before repotting
- Remove the succulent from the old pot (turn the pot upside down or use a stick to gently get it out)
- Clean the root system (I wash the roots to check for damage or disease) and trim off any diseased or damaged parts or even out-of-control growths. Make sure the roots are clean and dry.
- Transfer the succulent to a new pot and add fresh potting medium.
- Let the plant sit for around 7 days, and only then water, but only with a small amount to avoid overwatering.
If you follow these steps, you’ll have your succulent transferred to a fresh pot in just a few minutes.
Important Things to Consider
As you can see, transferring a succulent to a larger pot does not take too much effort. There are, however, a few important things to note:
Make sure the new pot you’re picking out for your succulent is not only suitably sized, but that it also has holes on the bottom to allow excess water to escape.
Use a potting medium mix formulated for succulents and cacti. Succulents and cacti require well-draining soil that’s well-aerated.
Size of container
I usually pick a container that’s one size bigger than the current container of my succulent. Don’t pick a container that’s too large, go one size up each time you repot.
Do this because in a larger pot, the soil may take longer to dry, potentially causing root rot issues. Or you may not water the plant as thoroughly.
Continue to keep a reasonable watering schedule, taking care not to overwater your succulent. Continue to fertilize as before, making sure to avoid any excesses.
How Often You Need to Repot Succulents?
Because they grow relatively slow, succulents are happy to stay in the same pot for 2-3 years without issues.
However, after 2-3 years, it’s a good idea to change the potting medium, even if your succulent may still snugly fit into its pot and doesn’t show signs of having outgrown its pot.
Therefore, repot whenever you notice the signs I mentioned above or every 2-3 years, whichever comes first.
Do You Water Succulents After Repotting?
No, I don’t water my succulents immediately after repotting. There are two reasons for this:
- I water them a day or two before repotting to lower the stress of being handled during repotting and just to make it more easy to remove
- I wash the roots before transplanting to the new pot to clean them and inspect for damage or disease.
By any standards, this is a good amount of exposure to water, so there is no need to water after repotting.
I usually allow my succulent to sit in the new potting medium for around a week before I water it again.
Watering it immediately after repotting is a bit excessive in my opinion, seeing how the roots were exposed to plenty of water before repotting and while cleaning the roots.
If you don’t water in the days before repotting, nor do you wash the roots or trim them, then yes, watering after repotting can be necessary.
Can You Use Regular Potting Soil for Succulents?
No, I don’t recommend that you use regular potting soil. Not on its own, that is. You can, however, combine it with other media and create your own succulent potting mix.
Regular potting soil doesn’t drain well enough, retaining too much water that will eventually damage the roots of your succulents.
For the most part, I use commercially available succulent mixes, but sometimes I do make my own mixes using coarse sand, perlite or pumice and potting soil. But never just potting soil on its own.
It may seem like a daunting task to repot your succulent, but now that you know when and how to do it, you can go ahead and change the pot for a larger one or change the old potting medium for a fresh batch. You succulent will thank you for it.