I’ve got a large number of cacti and succulents, some of which I’ve had for years (and have their own offshoot children growing in separate pots now). By the end of the summer, some of them were looking a bit sad, and were in serious need of repotting. I collected a load of Hornsea ware and other vintage pottery for £1-3 a time over the summer, and then had a big repotting session outside, just before the weather started turning cold.
Here is how you successfully repot a cactus or succulent into a closed pot. They like dry soil that drains well- any moisture hanging around will make the roots start to rot. There’s a layer of gravel at the bottom for drainage, then a layer of activated charcoal to help stop any fungi growing. The soil is special cactus mix, which is dryer and sandier than regular potting soil (it feels very like coffee grounds). Don’t use soil from your garden as it will be too thick and might harbour pests. I used a brand of compost called Cactus Focus. The plants seem to like it, as they’ve been growing better in that than the stuff they came in. At the top of the pot you put more stones, for decoration, and to stop the fine-textured compost blowing away.
Here’s the tools of the trade. The pot came from a charity shop, the charcoal and compost from ebay, and the pebbles from an aquarium shop. Each bag of compost did about three plants. I’ve got a spoon to shovel the compost, as a trowel is too big, and a small plastic spoon for dibbing. If you are re-potting cacti with spines, heavy rubber-coated gardening gloves are also very useful.
First of all, put the layer of stones, then a layer of charcoal in the pot. Add a small amount of soil to cover. When you take the plant out of its current pot, if it’s been in there for a while, the whole pot might be roots like this one. If you can remove excess soil from the roots, then do.
Put the plant in the pot, and add the compost a spoonful at a time, until the pot is full, and decorate with stones on top.
If any shoots fall off your succulents, put them to one side overnight. Once the edge has dried, you can plant them in some small pots, and they will grow into new plants. The success rate of growing succulents from cuttings is pretty high.
A host of triffids (I actually repotted way more than this, but the sun started to set). When you water the plants, use a spray bottle to mist the pebbles on top, rather than pouring water in. These plants grow in the desert, and hate to be water-logged.