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TUTORIAL
CACTUS E SUCCULENTS REPOTTING


Our plants are growing and need to be housed in more and more big pots. In this tutorial we will explain the precautions to be taken for repotting succulents and give you some useful tips to avoid problems with their development: losing some plants even as we try to put it in a more convenient arrangement would be really disgraceful!



THE FIRST REPOTTING

If we've just bought some new plants at a supermarket (not a specialized nursery), we must proceed to the first repotting. In fact it's very likely that the seedlings were grown on peat, a particular type of soil rich in nutrients that allow them to increase faster than the size (in order to be released to the market quickly), but the excessive richness of nutrients penalizes the possibility of flowering of the plant and, in the lifetime, the peat is compacted to form a ball that suffocates the roots and prevents the development.

Peat
The stick of compact peat that surrounds the roots of this Lithops is a typical example of a substrate to be replaced.









Method 1: Remove the plants from the pot and remove manually and gently peat that surrounds the roots, working with your fingers until you delete it completely; if some radicle breaks it is not a problem.
Method 2: Sprinkle the dough from the ground up to soak it completely, then place it under a gentle stream of water that gradually rub off the ground, laying bare the roots.

In both cases, dry the plant with bare roots for a few days and in shaded position before proceeding to transplant with a specific substrate.

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THE PERIODIC REPOTTING

If we grew our plants from seed, if we purchased them from a reputable dealer and specialized in the cultivation of succulents or if we have already done the first repotting as specified above, the periodic repotting will aim to ensure the plants a most comfortable house according to their progressive growth. It's important to note that the size of the new pots must always be just enough to hold the entire root system of plants: use a pot bigger than needed would be mean to use a larger amount of soil that would remain dangerously wet for too long after the wetting: a greater risk for our plants.

Informations about the frequency

Growth rateFrequency of repotting
Slow → every 3 years
Medium → every 2 years
Fast → every year

Note: try to avoid repot adult plants (roughly more than 10-15 years of age) and those already equipped with cephalium. [what is the cephalium?]

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OPERATING METHOD

a) Choose a pot with a diameter of 2-3 cm more of the diameter of the previous one. [Look at pots now for sale] Remove the plant from the old pot, pulling gently with your hands any roots that may have adhered to the walls or that may have slipped between the drainage holes below. At this stage, more than ever, we will discover how effective is the spinal apparatus of our plants! To avoid being pierced by spines difficult to remove, let us help with thick gloves or wrapping the plants in newspaper folded several times.

Grusonii
An Echinocactus grusonii just extracted from its pot.







b) Remove the earth from the roots (we can adopt one of the two methods described above), checking that they have not nested pests, insects or larvae: often plants that appear healthy aesthetically hide their problems to roots and this is the right time to check. Cut off the dead roots and those tangled or too long, sprinkle the remaining root system with a fungicide and an insecticide powder if possible. Exceptions to this rule are formed by the taproots of Lophophora, Ariocarpus and Copiapoa and that should never be nicked or injured.

Clean roots
A cleaning step of the roots.







c) Leave the plant with the bare roots for a few days to allow the small wounds that we have made to the root system to heal and form a callus.

Mammillaria bare roots
A Mammillaria mammillaris a resting for some days before repotting.







d) At this point it is time to place the plant in the new pot: if the drain hole bottom is very large you have to cover it with a piece of clay, then put 2-3 inches of fresh potting soil. Put the roots apparatus inside and, holding the plant hanging over the edge of the pot, put the soil in such a way that it fills the entire pot wrapping the entire root system and penetrating inside the tangle of roots. The pots should be filled with soil until you get to 1-2 cm from the edge or up to the neck of the plant.

Repotting
Holding the plant suspended, pouring new soil making it penetrate between the roots.







e) Wait a few days before wetting and wait a few weeks before fertilizing: repotting is not painless for the plants and before returning to feed them we must wait for it to fully resume.

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SEASONS

It's better to carry out the repotting of the plants during the growing season, then in most cases from early spring to early summer. Repot at other times of the year is not prohibited, but the dormant plants reduces the ability to regenerate and repair tissues and roots deteriorated, increasing the risk of rotting.

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