Just like a person who’s outgrown their small home, succulents and other plants often need to upgrade to something bigger to continue to thrive.
As a plant that requires very little maintenance, repotting is one of the only things you’ll have to remember to do as a plant owner to ensure they stay healthy.
Succulents grow best in bright, indirect light and require watering once a week, but if you notice that they still seem unhappy in these conditions, a simple repotting could be the solution.
Most people are intimidated to repot plants if they’ve never done it before or wonder when the right time is to do it, but it’s a relatively easy task and one that will have great results.
How do you repot a succulent and when do you know it’s the right time to do it?
A succulent should be repotted when it gets too large for its current pot or stops growing, looks unhealthy, or has lots of loose soil.
To repot, choose a pot larger than the one it’s currently in, mix in a good amount of succulent potting mix with the soil, and then transfer it over to its new home, waiting a few days before watering.
The steps of succulent repotting are easy enough to do and all it takes is a little bit of attention and care.
With all of your supplies on hand and the succulents that need a new home ready to be moved, the job will only take minutes and you’ll be greeted with some very happy plants that are ready to thrive in their new home.
Why Succulents Need Repotting
When you first bring home your succulent, there’s a good chance it’s in a small and tight pot that it was transferred into from the garden or grew there as a seed.
Although this is all well and good when it’s still a small plant, it will likely outgrow the space within a few months and need somewhere larger to live.
All plants need perfect conditions unique to them in order to grow healthy and happy, and this is true for succulents as well.
Although considered hearty and low maintenance, a succulent that’s not living in the right sized pot will start to suffer, as its roots can become stifled, water can fail to reach it, and it will be crowded by its small living space.
Repotting can also improve the health of the plant by simply changing its soil and adding fertilizer.
If you purchase a succulent as a small plant, the soil has likely lost a lot of its nutrients since then and will require a boost of nutrients, so even if you don’t think it’s outgrown its original pot, this fresh new soil will do wonders for its health.
The Right Time to Repot a Succulent
As a plant owner, it’s hard to know exactly what your plants need when they’re unable to speak to you.
When you’re looking at your succulents, there are a few signs that they’ll be showing you that might indicate they want a bigger home, so it’s simply a matter of paying attention and following their lead.
- Showing roots – If your succulent’s roots have started to grow so much that they’re sticking out of the pot or showing from the soil, this means it needs a larger pot and more soil as they’re trying to get more space.
- Water draining fast – If after watering your succulent the water immediately drains through the soil or doesn’t seem to reach all of the roots, this means there’s not enough soil in the pot and it needs more packed in and a larger pot.
- Plant leaning over – A plant that’s grown too big for its pot will become too heavy for its home and usually show this by leaning over or tipping over completely. There should be ample space around the base of a succulent to prevent it from tipping over, so find a pot that’s going to fit.
- Looks unhealthy – After giving it adequate water and ensuring it’s in the right amount of sun, a succulent that’s become too large for its pot will look unhealthy and be hard to bring back to life. After trying every other solution, repotting the plant will likely do wonders for its health.
- Enough time has passed – As a rule, you should be repotting plants every two years to keep the soil healthy and full of nutrients. If two years have passed since your succulent moved homes, take the plant out and proceed with the repotting process, but feel free to put it back in its original pot if there’s still room for it.
If there are no obvious signs that the plant is unhealthy but you still want to repot it, be cautious.
During dormancy, the period where plants are alive but not actively growing, you can disrupt their growth and even harm the plant if you move them.
Make note of whether your succulent is summer or winter dormant and then choose the right time to get the job done so they have time to get used to the new pot before their regular growing period.
The Steps to a Successful Succulent Repotting
People often shy away from repotting their plants because they fear they’ll harm them in the process, but if your plant is showing signs that it’s time to move, you need to listen.
Follow these steps for a successful succulent repotting and see the magic a bit of change brings.
- Prepare all of the items needed for a repotting including the new pot, succulent specific soil, and some space outside. If you have more than one plant to be repotted, it’s much easier to work with them all at the same time, so check to see if any other plants need to be moved.
- Paying careful attention to not damage the root system, remove the plant from its old pot gently by wriggling it softly out. Sometimes, you can use a stick to help push it out while leaving the roots intact. For smaller plants with small roots, it might be helpful to turn the pot upside down so you don’t have to pull it too hard.
- Clean off the root system by tapping it gently so that all of the dirt falls off. If the old dirt is still clinging on, you can rinse it gently with water to get rid of it. If you do wash it, make sure you leave it to dry for up to five days before repotting, to prevent root rot, but don’t leave it in direct sunlight.
- Check the root of your succulent to make sure it’s not long and won’t fit in the new pot. If it seems to have grown too long, trim the ends slightly using small, sharp scissors.
- Place the plant in its new pot and add the dry soil. Choose soil specifically made for succulents to ensure drainage. Allow it some time to adapt to its new home before you start the watering process as the roots will be sensitive.
- Keep an eye on your succulent to make sure the new pot is working for it. Plants can take a few weeks to adjust to a repotting but if you notice signs of damage or stress, you might want to consider trying to repot again.
Watering Newly Rehomed Succulents
One of the trickiest things about repotting a plant, even a succulent, is knowing when to water them and how much water to give.
A common misconception about succulents is that they don’t require much water at all, due to their relation to cactus, but this is incorrect.
The cactus is a member of the succulent family and not the other way around, which means to grow and be healthy, water is an integral part of the process.
If you’re repotting a succulent and find that the soil is very dry, you may be able to apply a small amount of water once it’s been repotted.
Although not ideal, it’s best not to leave a plant that’s dehydrated and then stress it further by moving it. Ideally, you should water it a few days or a week before moving it to avoid this problem.
For plants that have damp or moist soil, you can feel comfortable letting it sit for a week at least to let the roots adapt to the repotting.
Watering too soon can lead to root rot and will cause the plant to die in its new home, especially for succulents that are more sensitive to moist roots.
A New Home for a Happy Succulent
Succulents are famous for being low maintenance plants that are beautiful to look at, but that doesn’t mean we should neglect their care entirely.
Whether it’s changing the soil and giving it a fresh boost of nutrients or moving it to a bigger pot to allow it to continue growing happily, you’ll notice an instant boost in your succulent when you repot it.
Keep an eye on your succulent and let it tell you when it’s time for a new home. If you’ve noticed that it’s recently started to flower or seems to be doing well in its current pot, it’s best to leave it and let it flourish.
A succulent has many ways of showing when something’s not going right, and a good plant owner will learn all of these signs so they’re ready to act when needed.
These wonderful plants are known for being resilient so if your first efforts of repotting don’t work out, you shouldn’t lose hope.
Simply go through the steps again and slow down the process, and eventually, you’ll get the right balance.
A freshly potted succulent with the right amount of water, sun, and shade will thrive like never before, so it’s worth doing this for your favorite plant now and then or whenever they’re showing signs it’s time for a new home.
Succulents are one of the easiest types of plants to look after but that doesn’t mean they don’t require a small amount of care.
If you’re planning on repotting your succulent so it can continue to grow happily, we’ve got the answers to some popular questions that plant owners ask, to point you in the right direction.
What is the Best Soil for Succulents?
Succulents need fast drainage as they are more susceptible to root rot if their roots are too moist so water can’t sit at the bottom of their pots for too long.
Therefore, choosing a sandy potting soil that has porous qualities is best for a succulent. This allows the water to drain out quickly while still hydrating the plant so purchase a soil that suits these specific needs.
Do I Have to Fertilize Succulents?
Compared to other plants, the succulent requires a lot less effort to maintain, and this includes how often fertilization is needed.
Every few months or once a year is adequate for succulents depending on their variety, and the best time to do this is during spring and early summer before the new growth period begins.
When Will My Succulent Bloom?
A succulent will usually bloom for the first time between four and six years old, so it can be a long wait if you’ve grown yours from a seed.
Having them in the correct size pot and the right conditions with adequate water will ensure this process happens sooner rather than later, so if yours is older than six years you may need to consider changing its care plan.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She supplemented her education by working on various organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics. Growing and raising just about anything gets her very excited. She is especially passionate about sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms, homesteads, urban farming and indoor gardening.