If you are anything like this city dweller, you keep the majority of your succulents and cactus in pots around your apartment, patio, and house. To maintain optimal health for your little friends, it’s important to repot and replace the soil in those pots at least once a year. It turns out, the winter months are the best time to do so. Succulents and their soil take somewhat of a beating and a nutrient drain during the hot summer and autumn months. Before spring’s warmer weather strikes again, it’s smart to give them a healthy head start with nutrients, fluffy soil, and good space to develop their roots again.
You’ll first want to equip yourself with a good pair of garden shears, potting soil, and gloves if they’re your thing. For potting soil, it’s important to have soil that drains well and doesn’t become too dense after a couple waterings (look for a cactus, succulent, or citrus mix). Succulent roots enjoy loosely packed soil to allow the smaller surface roots to penetrate through. Allowing the soil to drain completely after each watering prevents the roots from watering, which succulents are most sensitive towards. Perlite is a great amendment that improves drainage as well as retains water which means you can water less and have the soil say moist longer. Most potting soil comes with perlite added, but if not I would suggesting getting your hand on a bag.
Next, make sure whichever pot you choose to replant in, it has a hole in the bottom. Succulents especially need to drain out excess water. Usually people place a saucer underneath the pot to catch the extra water. I prefer to use terracotta pots for my succulents. If you do, make sure you submerge the pot in water for a good while before you plant–this retains water within the pot and prevents it from drying out later on. You’ll want a pot that is 1.5x the size of your plant to give the roots some extra breathing room.
There are a couple different ways to replant succulents depending on the type and your preference. You can choose to repot it as is, or choose to ‘reshape’ it and clean it up. If your succulent is already in a pot, carefully remove it by pulling it out of the pot by the base of the stem. Gently remove all the excess soil around the roots. If you want to plant it as is, fill your pot with soil about 1/3 of the way and make a well that will accommodate the existing plant roots. Gently place the succulent in the pot and spread the roots facing downward. Fill the pot with soil so it meets the base of the stem. Give it a good water and let completely drain before moving back inside (if that’s where he/she lives)
Generally, if your succulent has outgrown it’s pot and has produced babies off its central stem, those can be cut and cleaned up to repot again. Remove the plant and closely look to see if it’s developed roots along the bare stem. This gives you a great location to cut- right before where the roots developed. If not, generally you can cut 2/3 of the way up the stem or cut off little babies that have formed and plant those.
If you are cutting new growth off the main stem, cleanly cut the the branch as closely to the base of the existing stem as possible. Often times you can do this gently with your fingers.
After you have your new cutting, remove the older leaves from the stem of the plant going up about 2/3 of the way. This will promote new growth and give it a fresh start. Fill a pot with soil and plant the succulent in the soil up to the base of the leaves. Give it a good water and let drain completely.
Watering your new cuttings depends on where they’re located. If your succulents are inside, watering 1-2x a week should definitely be enough. If your plants are outside, it’s a good idea to poke your finger in the first 2 inches of soil and see how wet it is. If it’s bone dry give it some water. But if it’s slightly moist it should be happy as is.
When replanting succulents and cutting it’s important to also keep in mind how much room they’ll need once they establish themselves. Give your little buddies some space if planting them together. The additional air flow and root space will bode well.
If you live in an area that has frost, bring your succulents inside until it warms up again. Succulents and cuttings don’t do very well in weather that cold. Happy planting!