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I found this cactus in a store, it was labeled as "cactus" but I think it is one of the giant cacti (see my previous question). It is about 12 cm in height (without spines).

I was wondering when is the best time to repot it into a slightly larger pot? I bought the plant yesterday (9th of March). Is the pot of the store still big enough, is the soil still good, and when is the best season to repot it? I think Springtime, right?

Second question, how to do this? Do I use gloves (what kind?) or a cloth for this? Any advice on repotting these spiny big plants?

Thanks in advance!

enter image description here

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Cacti with long and relatively fat spines are not the worst to handle. You may get a few pricks, but they soon heal. Cacti with lots of very thin "hairs" (e.g. many Opuntias) are much worse, because the hairs break off and stay in your skin until your skin naturally renews itself!

Get some industrial gloves, for example those used by builders. Gloves intended for household cleaning etc are not much use, because sharp spines just pierce through them.

Cloth is also fairly useless, unless you have a thick "fleece" that is too thick for the spines to pierce right through it.

The best way is to work out how to touch the cactus as little as possible. For example you can lay the pot on its side on a bench and remove the pot, keeping the soil around the root ball pretty much intact. Then handle the plant as much as possible by the roots. Moving the plant about without getting "attacked" is not a big problem so long as you don't have to support its whole weight, so work with it resting on a bench or in a pot (so you can hold the pot, not the plant.) It's quite possible to repot a cactus with the plant and pot horizontal, not vertical, and then turn it vertically to make the final adjustments. Unlike most plants, cacti aren't floppy, and pieces don't easily break off!

  • That's good advice, thanks. Do you know when I have to repot, and with when I mean when is the pot too small and when is it time to refresh soil? – benn Mar 11 at 13:50
  • I wouldn't leave it in that pot for more than a year, assuming it continues to grow. It looks nice and healthy now. At maturity, this is a huge cactus, so giving it more room will help it continue to grow. As for time of year to repot, spring is best, late fall is worst. – Tim Nevins Mar 11 at 14:54
  • Yeah I would like it to continue (or even stimulate) to grow @TimNevins, thanks for your advice. Hopefully I can give it enough light (Dutch sun with South-East window). I will see if I can find some good pair of industrial (garden) gloves somewhere! – benn Mar 11 at 15:01
  • Opuntia spines yield to strong magnifying glasses and surgery quality tweezers. Heavyish gloves a useful when handling any cactus; leather preferred. – Wayfaring Stranger Mar 11 at 15:44
  • Assuming the inner pot has drainage holes (and if it doesn't. repot it as soon as possible - into the same size pot will be fine) the only time you "have to" repot is if you can see some roots emerging from the drain holes. But if it is growing well (and it's a myth that all cacti grow very slowly) every one or two years, ideally in spring, is a good plan. The worst time to repot is if there are any flower buds developing. If that happens, wait till after flowering, or you will most likely lose the flowers. – alephzero Mar 11 at 19:29
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I found some great repotting tools from cactus growers of the Colorado Cactus & Succulent Society.

To repot a cactus, especially a spiky one like yours, you'll want some old foam cushions that are as deep as the spikes to allow for safe and easy handling. Simply wrap the cactus in something like this and you should have no problems.

enter image description here

Some other useful advice on repotting is to dry the soil out before doing this.

References

  • Looks like acoustic isolation foam. Great idea, thanks! – benn Mar 21 at 20:43

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