Succulents, especially the smaller ones, don’t have an extensive root system. They’re happy to stay in the same pot for a while, but at some point will need to be transplanted into a new pot. This guide to repotting succulents will give you details including why, when, how, and more.
I’m talking about moving 1 plant from 1 pot to another one, most often times a bigger pot. These same principles apply when you plant multiple succulents into 1 or more planters and plant your rooted succulent cuttings.
Succulents do best in a special potting mix. I just did a post all about succulent soil so I have you covered there. The mix you use should have good drainage, be well aerated, and light.
Check out more posts from our Succulents Indoors series:
- How to Choose Succulents and Pots
- Small Pots for Succulents
- Guide to Watering Indoor Succulents
- 6 Important Succulent Care Tips
- Hanging Planters for Succulents
- 13 Common Succulent Problems and How to Avoid Them
- Propagating Succulents 3 Simple Ways
- Succulent Soil Mix
- 21 Indoor Succulent Planters
Repotting succulents in action:
Reasons to repot succulents
The pot your succulent’s growing in is too small. The roots may be coming out the drain hole, it’s root bound, and/or the plant is showing signs of stress.
The succulent has fallen or been knocked over and has come out of the pot.
It’s growing in old soil. The succulent has been in the pot for years, and although it may not need a bigger pot, it would appreciate fresh soil mix.
The soil is no longer holding water. An example would be a low planter bowl full of succulents that have grown tightly and is not able to absorb the water.
The succulent has been overwatered and it’s not drying out. Often it can be saved by planting in new mix.
The succulent is out of scale with the current pot and needs a bigger base. Taller growing succulents get top-heavy and can lean.
The cuttings have rooted and need a new home.
When to repot succulents
The best time is spring and summer. Early fall is fine if you’re in a climate with mild winters.
That being said, I’ve repotted a succulent in January because it fell and the pot broke. It grew just fine; just know that the warmer months are optimum.
What size pot
Unless I’m planting multiple plants into 1 pot to create a succulent garden (I’ll be doing a post on how to do this very soon), I generally go up 1 pot size. For example, from a 2 or 3″ to a 4″ pot and from a 4″ to a 6″ pot.
How often to repot
Succulent plants don’t need yearly repotting. Every 3 – 6 years will be fine, depending on how the succulent is growing and the pot size.
How to repot succulents into pots with no drainage holes
I did a post on potting and caring for succulents in a pots without drainage holes a few years ago. I’ll be updating and adding a new video to it in a few weeks.
- New pot, usually a larger container.
- Succulent soil mix. Here’s the DIY succulent mix recipe I use. Bonsai Jack is a very popular mix you can buy online, as well as the Succulent Cult, Superfly Bonsai, & Dr. Earth.
- Trowel, cup, plastic container for scooping the mix.
- Paper to cover drain holes.
- Amendments. These organic materials are optional but I always add a small amount of compost & worm compost when planting my succulents.
Steps to repotting succulents
Water the succulent 5-7 days before repotting. You don’t want bone dry soil nor to have it soaking wet.
Put a thin layer of paper over the drain hole(s). I used old coffee filters until they ran out and now use a layer of newspaper. This keeps the light mix from leaking out the bottom.
Have the new soil all ready to go. I keep my succulent and cactus mix in a low bin with handles. It’s a portable potting station I can move around to wherever I’m doing the repotting.
Loosen the root ball from the pot by pressing on the sides. This works for me when working with smaller succulents. If it’s being stubborn due to being root bound, then run a knife around the perimeter of the pot. In case that doesn’t do the job, cut the plastic grow pot to get the rootball out. I’ve only had to break a terra cotta pot 1 time because I couldn’t get the dang plant out – last resort!
Massage the rootball, if needed, to untighten the roots.
Measure the depth of the root ball by putting it in or next to the new pot. This way you know how much mix to put in that new pot to raise it up.
TIP: I raise the rootball up 1/2″ or so above the top of where I ultimately want it to be in the new, larger pot. Succulents store water in their leaves and stems so most have a bit of weight to them. This will pull them down in the light mix over time. A 6″ Aloe Vera is heavier than a 6″ String Of Pearls so I’d have it up a bit higher. You don’t want the crown of the rootball to sink below the top of the soil.
Add more mix around the sides of the rootball. I add a bit of compost and worm compost when the level gets up near the top. Easy does it, 1/4 – 1/2″ layer is fine for a 4″pot size.
Press down on the mix as you go. You also may need to press at the top to get the succulent to stand up straight.
This doesn’t happen often, but if the plant is top-heavy, it’s a good idea to stake it while the roots take hold.
Succulent care after repotting
Put your repotted succulents in a location with bright, natural light. That might be the spot they were growing in before the repotting.
Be sure to keep them out of hot, direct sunlight and out of cold or hot drafts.
Don’t water your repotted succulents right away. Keep the soil dry for up to a week while they settle in.
Water the mix thoroughly. If the mix is light and aerated as it should be, the excess water will immediately flow out the drain holes.
Resume watering as you normally would. In case you missed it, here’s info on how to water succulents indoors.
Good to know about succulent repotting
When repotting more delicate succulents, you have to be careful. Some of the leaves will easily fall off in the repotting process. I’ve done a post and video on this. Also, there’s information here about propagating succulents by leaf cuttings if you want to put them to good use.
Succulents do best in pots with drainage holes. This ensures that water flows out and doesn’t build up in the bottom which can lead to root rot.
I like to plant succulents in pots with multiple drain holes. If there’s only 1 small drain hole, add a layer (an inch or 2) of pebbles, charcoal, etc to prevent the mix from staying too wet.
If there are multiple drain holes or 1 big drain hole, I like to cover them with paper to prevent the fresh mix from flowing out. I use a toothpick or tip of a knife to puncture a small hole in the paper so the water runs out but the mix stays in.
Use succulent and cactus soil mix. This helps to ensure your succulents will grow successfully.
Many people ask when to repot succulents after buying. Unless the soil looks really bad or the pot is too small, I leave them be for a while.
Don’t sink the root ball crown below the level of the soil mix. It’s best to plant it slightly above because the weight of the plant will eventually pull it down.
Let your succulents settle in the new mix dry for 3-7 days before watering.
Repotting succulents isn’t hard at all. After you repot 1 or 2, you’ll have it down!
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