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Repot Cactus Plants Without Getting Pricked

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Are cacti on your list of houseplants that need repotting? Or maybe you’re planning a midwinter trip to your favorite greenhouse, where you’ll pick up a bunch of prickly plants for a desert dish garden. Here are tips to repot cactus without pricking a finger:

repot cactus

Remove the cactus from its current pot by tipping the pot on its side and tapping it against the work surface several times to loosen and dislodge the potting mix and plant. If it doesn’t slide right out, use a tool (soil knife, small trowel, letter opener) to separate and pry the soil and root ball from the pot.

Often the collar of the cactus—the point that was just below the soil surface—will lack spines, or the spines there will be smaller and dull. You may be able to handle the cactus by holding it at the collar.

If there’s no way to avoid touching the spiniest parts of the cactus, repurpose a household item as a cactus-potting aide. Tongs can work to steady a thin plant. Alternatively, wrap the plant in something made of impenetrable fabric: try felt, or heavy-duty oven mitts. Newspaper—particularly the waxy type that circular ads are printed on—can make an effective cactus gripper.

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