Pots and Potting for cacti and succulents

Choosing the right pot for your cactus or succulent will have a big impact on producing a healthy, happy, plant. Below we descibe some of the many factors you shoud take into account when choosing the right pot for your cactus or succulent.

Choosing pots for your cactus

In shops you can find different types of pots for cacti and succulents, however the most appropriate are usually those made of clay, both porous and varnished.

Ones with a porous wall provide a tolerance for excessive watering since they encourage evaporation. But they also have the disadvantage of concentrating the nutritious salts contained in the earth against the walls of the pot. This initially gives rise to a great growth of the roots, but later, can suffocate them when the concentration of saline is toxic to the plant. For this reason many prefer varnished clay pots. These do not have the drawbacks mentioned above and can be very decorative. However, with this type of planter there is no evaporation through the walls so perfect drainage must be provided.

The pot should have a diameter of not less than 7cm. It is advisable to change the pot for plants that have been purchased in smaller diameter pots. It is also recommended that the pot has a depth of at least 12cm.

To achieve good drainage, the bottom of the pot should have a hole approximately 1 cm in diameter on which a piece of broken bottle or pot should be placed with the concave part facing downwards. Next, a leca layer should be placed, then topsoil or cactus mix (3/4 of the pot), a layer of sand and finally a layer of pebbles. The pebbles help to avoid stalk rot by removing puddles.

Changing the pot

This operation is necessary to give more space to plants that have grown too much. It's not advisable to perform it at the beginning of the vegetative period of the plants or near the winter rest period. The best time is normally during Spring or in the first days of September.

Before repotting your plant, start by watering it two or three days beforehand. This will prevent the roots from coming together to the inner wall of the pot, and getting damaged during the operation.

When you are ready to re-pot hold the earth with your fingers and slightly hit the edge of the pot (against the edge of a table, for example). The contents should come out without breaking, keeping the exact shape of the pot that contained it. If, on the surface of the clod, only a few roots can be seen, it means that the earth still contains nutritious principles, so you can leave the plant in the same pot until next year.

On the other hand if there are many roots, the plant should be placed in a larger container. Yous should take into account that the roots may be superficial, and that the stem should not be buried excessively to prevent its base from rotting.

If you have to change a thorny cactus, a good system to avoid hurting your hands, and at the same time not spoil the plant involves coating it with a cloth during the whole operation.

Once the re-potting is complete, it is best to leave the plant in the shade and wait at least a week before watering it again.