How to Transplant Cactus for Beginners

If you don’t know how to transplant cactus, here’s a forewarning, it’s not that hard (even as the thorny spikes are looking at you with menace).

how to transplant cactus

Although for a first timer, it might be hard to keep your heart from beating fast.

So it is also my first tip for you while transplanting cactus, be calm. As long as you grasp all the fundamental steps, you are up for a high success.

In this article, I’ll guide you through the process, ensuring your beloved cactus relocates safely both for you and your plant.

Before Moving Cacti in Your Garden

Set A Schedule

The perfect time to repot a cactus is during early to mid-spring when the plant is in its active growth phase.

Repotting during this time allows the cactus to recover its strength after handling and acclimate to its new surroundings.

Gather Your Protective Gear

how to transplant cactus

When dealing with cacti, those tiny spiky devils can be a pain to remove from your skin (sad but true).

To stay protected, don some tough gardening gloves and long-sleeved clothes to avoid getting pricked while moving them around.

If your cactus is relatively miniature, kitchen tongs are perfectly fine.

Gather Your Cacti’s Protective Layers

As spiky and dangerous as cactus thorns can be, they are also quite prone to damage during the transplanting process.

To ensure they won’t suffer much harm, wrap them with several layers of newspaper.

Personally, I don’t recommend towels or fabric, since the spines could get caught up in the material and you’d end up sweating yourself out unplucking the cactus from it.

How to Transplant Cactus Safely

Step 1

Begin the transplant process by digging a trench around the cactus, leaving a gap of 1 to 2 feet (31-61 cm.) between the plant and the trench. Make the trench approximately 18 inches (46 cm.) deep.

Step 2

Gently pry around the plant, being mindful of the delicate roots. Once you’ve unearthed the roots, use a shovel to carefully lift the plant. If it’s a large specimen, you may need multiple people or even a vehicle to help with pulling it out.

Step 3

After extracting the cactus from the ground, let the roots air dry for a few days before planting it in its new location.

Step 4

During this time, assess the soil and make any necessary amendments. In sandy areas, adding 25% compost can improve the soil quality. If you have rich or clay soil, consider adding pumice to enhance drainage.

Step 5

Dig a shallow and wide hole in the new location, making it the same size as the plant’s original planting site. Ensure that you orient the cactus to the same exposure it had in its previous spot. This step is crucial in preventing or minimizing sunburn.

Step 6

Gently lift the plant and position it in the prepared hole, making sure it’s correctly oriented. Fill the hole with soil, gently tamp it down, and water the plant deeply to settle the soil.

Post-Transplantation Care

how to transplant cactus

After moving a cactus plant, it requires special care for several months. Here are the essential tips I’ve gathered:


Water it twice a week for the first month, unless nighttime temperatures drop below 60 degrees F. (16 C.).

If that’s the case, refrain from watering unless it hasn’t rained for up to four months.

Sun Protection

During the spring or summer transplant, it’s a good idea to shield your cactus from direct sunlight using a shade cloth.

Let it hang out under the cover for about three to four weeks, helping the plant adjust to its new home.

Stakes if Necessary

how to transplant cactus

For those taller cacti standing over 5 feet (1.5 m.), you might want to think about using stakes for a bit of extra support.

After a month, reduce the watering frequency to every two to three weeks in summer and during winter.

Monitor the plant for any signs of stress and address them accordingly.

Within a few months, your cactus should be well established and on its way to recovery from the moving process.

Final Thoughts

Moving a cactus plant may seem challenging, but with careful planning and proper execution, you can ensure its successful transplantation.

Follow these steps, stay safe, and enjoy watching your cactus thrive in its new home!