How To Repot A Cactus Without Hurting Yourself | Repot A Cactus (without Getting Pricked) — Ep. 196

Summer Rayne Oakes

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Repot A Cactus (without Getting Pricked) — Ep. 196


so let’s go over a prickly subject today which is repotting some cacti now i’m way over due to repotting some of my cacti and it’s partially because they’re really not as needy as typical house plants and they don’t need that much maintenance but also because repotting is a little bit more precarious when you’re talking about cacti with spines now if you don’t want to walk away looking like a porcupine or a pin cushion then you may want to take some extra precautionary measures now you really don’t need much fancy equipment when it comes to repotting your cactus and i have way more than i need here but that’s just for the purpose of showing you how i’m going to do this and figuring it out as i go now the very least i would recommend a pair of gloves and gloves that probably have some rubber or even leather at the fingertips if you’re because if you’re going to use like cloth gloves then you’ll likely still get pricked so anything that has a little bit more robust in the fingertips and on the palm then you can have a lot of recycled stuff so i actually got most of this stuff from people sending me packages in the mail so stuff like newspaper or flexible cardboard or the dreaded styrofoam i mean these are actually uh packing peanuts that are the carbohydrate kind that i got at the webby award so if you remember that update video but uh yeah i didn’t eat all of them oh packing peonies you know though these are the carbohydrate kind oh yeah oh maybe not try that out it tastes just like tastes like pasta kidding i didn’t eat any of them but these are ones that will dissolve you don’t actually need to throw them away you can compost them but i save them because they’re very good when you’re repotting your cactus which we’ll go over now some folks also use tongs when it comes to repotting their cacti but i don’t always like to use these and i’ll show you why a little bit later now as you can see from the selection i have here of these two guys they you know cacti come in many different shapes and sizes some of them have a small spine some of them have large spines some of them even come spineless so obviously those are a lot easier to pot up now this golden barrel cactus has these long spines that really protrude outwards and this is one that i wouldn’t recommend using tongs because as you’re applying the pressure of the tongs on the spines you could actually crack the spines and you don’t want to do that because then your cactus is going to look a little bare in some parts so if you want to use these i would recommend using them on a cactus like this which has the spines that kind of recurve backwards you know towards the flesh of the stem so that’s going to be a lot easier to pick up if you could see this but really i mean the principal way that i’m going to repot some of these cacti today are with the glamorous cardboard newspaper and even packing peanut methods but before i get to this i also want to show you some of the beautiful substrates that i have here that i’m going to be using to repot my cacti now i have this one right over here and this is actually made by bonsai jack it has a lot of gritty material in here some perlite that i actually added to this so this is perlite it’s a puffed volcanic stone and then i have some really beautiful sand right here that could actually serve as a top dressing or you could actually mix it into your cacti or succulent mix some black lava stones very nice also there’s red lava stones as well and then i have a mixture here with some clay and some other types of substrates and then of course you could always go with a cacti and succulent mix which is totally fine so many different brands out here this is the espoma brand and you’ll see that it actually has a nice heavy-based mix with a little bit more pearlite as well so you could see it’s a very nice airy mixture and and you can even mix this in with some of your other mixtures if you want you can really get um creative with it it’s what you want and typically if i have a cactus that has sensitive roots i’m probably not going to be using a peter mixture for it i want something that’s a little bit more well draining because if it has sensitive roots and it starts to rot more easily or if it’s like a cactus that rests on the surface of the substrate and you don’t want that substrate holding too much water up top because then it’ll start to rot the stem of the cactus then you’re going to want to use something that’s a little bit of a grittier mix and that’s what i’m actually going to be using today so without further ado let’s get started on repotting this up i’m going to obviously wear my gloves because i don’t want to be walking away like a pin cushion like i said okay so this one we have here has a little bit more as i mentioned recurved spines so you’ll see how the spines are not poking outwards like my golden barrel cactus i mean some of them are but most of them are hugging the body and protecting that stem body of this cactus so i’m going to move this up here because when i like to pull these out and i don’t even think i need tongs for this i think i could probably just use these gloves there you go very nice i love these planter pots by the way because they have a lot of good aeration on the bottom so i usually typically save these and reuse these all right so again look at this nice airy mixture this is probably 50 to 60 perlite and then the rest of it is just a regular potting medium i’m just going to put that right out here and mix that in with my current substrate i’m just doing this so i could inspect the roots and really not much of repotting a cactus is too different from repotting another plant except that you have to take those extra precautions not to get poked okay this is nice and yeah and the roots look pretty good i’m not going to have to clear all this out but they look very nice and i’m just going to mix some of that current cacti soil that the grower had and just mix that in there and you’ll see much more perlite nice gritty mixture this is actually a very attractive mixture i really love adding some of that extra grit i just think it’s yeah it just makes it look a little bit more beautiful too so this is pretty much the same size of the the nursery pot that i had it in and i’m not going to go much bigger i really liked this planter that i picked up at chelsea garden center it has like these little divots and it has this kind of like slate greenish color bluish color in with brown and i picked this out for this one because i think that it has a little bit more of that coloration i like the matchy matchy sometimes when it goes to planter so and i’m just going to use my spoon and add some of this mixture in here about one or one to one and a half two inches down below whatever your plant can handle create a little divot and i’m just going to drop that in you see i haven’t even had to use the tongs on this i’d rather not because i think i could be a little bit more gentle with my with my fingers and because i’m using these gloves that have rubber on the fingertips and on the palms and i feel you know protected already the other thing that i like about using a grittier mixture on top and i mentioned this before but if the stem of the cactus is resting on top of a mixture that maintains and holds the water at the top then it’s going to be sitting in that that wet substrate and that’s not always good for the plant especially if you don’t have that air flow in your house it’s not going to dry out really readily i could have probably dropped it a little bit further down into this pot or if this pot was just an inch or two taller probably would have been ideal but we’ll make do okay so what i’m actually going to do now because i really like the look of this i’m going to take some of this beautiful stone i love this because it brings in some grays and it has red lava stone it has some reds and some blues and i’m just going to line the top of this that way it’s not resting on again any any kind of substrate because i do have some peat mixture in there and i like this too because when i wet this stone it actually becomes a little slightly darker color and then as it dries out it goes back into the pastel shades so if you want to be a little bit more precise in your movements and you don’t have any mobility in your fingers when they have gloves on then you could use a pair of tongs and i have this long pair of tongs that i ended up picking up for my biopod and these have been so handy you could also use them in terrariums if you’re trying to take some plants out or kind of arranging some of the substrate in there but this is great because you could get really close to the cactus without getting spiked especially if you don’t can’t find your gloves and you could just go in there with the tongs and move the rocks around or high grade and take a little rock out and then put it in there if you want some more of the blue stones you could grab it very easily and just add those in there and there you go that one is potted up and we’re going to move on to the next one all right so this is a golden barrel cactus and i got this as a gift and i was like oh gosh what am i going to do with this one but it’s uh it’s in a too small of a planter pot so this the spines are actually coming out from the sides of this planter pot which is a little precarious and it has grown a bit bigger than this this planter so what i’m going to do is give it this wider planter because this will allow the spines to grow outwards it’s not too much larger than this one it’s not as it’s still the same depth pretty much as this one so i don’t think any of the roots are coming out we will see after i get this out but this is one that i’ve been pushing off for quite some time so what i’m going to try is just to put some of these packing peanuts around these spines and i’m not going to stick them on too much now i got this idea because when i was in singapore i saw these huge cactus this huge cacti and euphorbia that also have spines and they were massive they were probably like four feet five feet six feet tall and they were moving them on trucks and they had styrofoam all the way around and i was like that’s a really great idea because here the spines actually just go into the styrofoam they protect your fingers or your arms if you’re going to have to hoof those to a house or upstairs and and that’s going to be much easier on the spine so you don’t break them because again if you use those tongs and that pressure is applying against those tongs you’re just going to to crack those spines so i could use something like this as well like a piece of cardboard but you might have a little bit more grip with uh some newspaper as well so i mean i haven’t done this before with my golden barrel cactus but we’ll see how easy it is i mean this seems like it’s coming out very easily yeah okay yeah very very easy so look at that i was dreading this moment because i was like putting this off for so long but so far so good but it is really dry and it’s primarily peat mixture you can see there’s not as much perlite in this and i definitely want to start breaking up some of this soil clog down here because it’s not going to get water to its roots because it’s just all crusted up so i’m just going to be very delicate here and just start teasing away some of this soil let’s move it around looks kind of funny with the styrofoam packing peanuts on there somebody kind of looks like a hair salon when you have the oh yeah oh yeah when they have the rollers on the hair yeah saunders says that it looks like the hair salon when somebody goes and gets a perm and they get the curls it’s really funny okay i’m gonna be just working out some of these roots now i am damaging some of these roots inevitably so what you’re gonna wanna do is if you’ve damaged some of the roots as you’re kind of teasing away some of the clogged soil then you’re not going to want to water this right away because you might actually end up over watering the plant because not all the roots are working so i would just say a little mist and then giving it a good water in a few days should be fine okay so i’m just going to take some of that old soil out i’ll take some of that old soil and mix that in it’s very dusty actually you know that’s some of the older soil so i’ll be using some of that and this new one in here putting about an inch down below making a little divot and lowering this guy in there all right that’s great now what you can do is with these guys is take a spine and just grab it so if you want to position it right in the middle so it’s not leaning and that’s just delicate enough so that you’re not pulling off a spine i’m just going to work my spoon around and i’ll probably end up using these after that to push down some of this substrate and you do want to make sure that you you’re pushing down the substrate which is a bit of a challenge with these spines so that you um you get some of the soil down there so it’s not like there’s not like a big air pocket and again i picked this planter for this plant because it had a wider lip meaning it kind of goes out like this so as it goes out like this and it’s a little less constraining for this plant if you’ve ever seen full-size golden barrel cacti i mean they’re very popular and they’re unfortunately endangered in the wild but they are extremely popular at botanic gardens and when i was in nangnuk botanic gardens in thailand if you saw that episode i’ll link to it above and also i’ll put it in the description but wow they had some pretty impressive golden barrel cacti displays okay so now i’m going to use these tongs and i’m going to see if i could push them down without damaging too many of the spines and i could actually start taking these off because i don’t think i’m going to poke myself and actually these gloves are pretty good i also have gloves that um don’t fit so tightly to my hands and they’re they they’re great gloves i think they’re called uh they’re by mud but um they are because they don’t fit closely to my hands i find that sometimes they could get in the way they’re great for like outdoor gardening but some more precision indoor gardening like this could require you to have full nimble fingers yeah i’m just going to break out some of those clogs of peat that was got too dry that’s the the challenge i wouldn’t say the problem but the challenge with peat is that if you let it dry out for too long it’s very hard to re-wet and using peat for your cacti and succulents because you’re not wetting them or watering them regularly then it can dry out and then you don’t know whether the cacti is getting all the water now one of the spines broke off so you can see that right here so yeah you definitely don’t want to be getting that into your finger i’m just going to put that off to the side that looks really nice and so what i’m going to do now is i think add some of this sand i think this is made a little bit more from from granite horticultural sand it’s all over the place okay you hit one of those spines and the the sand goes flying in the other direction i’m just gonna put that around the edges and again that way the body of this cactus is not going to be resting against any kind of substrate that doesn’t drain you want something that actually drains and then i’m going to push this in take some of the soil out and then just put that in here there you go i mean i think that is just about it no spines in my fingers and i think both of these actually turned out all right so guys i hope you enjoyed that episode and you just see that it’s actually not that hard in order to be able to plant up your cacti all you need is a little bit of an extra helping hand if you didn’t hear yet we just released house plant basics which is an introductory mini course for beginner houseplant enthusiasts the video based course is set up to be both concise and comprehensive and it serves as a perfect primer for our houseplant master class which is a month-long course on houseplant care cultivation and more you can find out more information on both courses at or search for the courses in the description below you