Pencil Cactus Repotting ( Efficient Guide )

Pencil Cactus repotting is one of the best plant care tips I can give you. If you want to learn all sorts of things about your plants and just get abundant life, I gotcha on this article.

It’s nice to have a cactus, but cacti tend to do well in places with high humidity. That’s not the case with most home and office environments. And since succulents aren’t cheap, making sure they’re properly potted is an essential task.

When my pencil cactus got too big for the small plastic planter it came in, I had to put it in a bigger pot. Fortunately, I know how to do it without harming the plant. So let me tell you how.

Pencil Cactus Repotting

Does pencil cactus need repotting?

Yes, pencil cactus need repotting. If I explained this further, pencil cactus are a slow growing set of plants, and they would require repotting only once every couple of years.

You could repot them once every two years or once every three years. When you report you could use an unglazed container since water evaporation could benefit from that.

Though you call this pencil cactus, it literally is not a cactus, but a succulent. Milk bush, fire sticks are some of other common names which you could use to call them. Chances are that these cacti could grow up to 15 – 30 feet when they are in their natural habitat.

Pencil cactus could thrive outdoors in USDA 9-11 hardiness zones. On the other hand, many people tend to grow pencil cactus in containers or even in pots so that they could grow them as tiny plants and limit their further growth in the garden. If not, you could see how people grow them as houseplants as well.

In terms of repotting them, you need to be vigilant as they contain a sap which could be quite harmful and irritating.

As such, ensure that you protect yourself from the milky toxic sap when dealing with these cacti. Chances are that it could end up creating mild allergies to severe allergies.

When should you repot a pencil cactus?

You could repot the pencil cactus usually once every couple of years. Literally it could be once every two years or once every three years.

In terms of the seasons to report these cacti it would be either spring or summer. These are the seasons where the pencil cactus would grow to their best.

Signs pencil cactus needs repotting

There could be several indications from the pencil cactus to signify that they require repotting. If you spot your cactus roots have emerged from the pot base, it is a sign they send out to you to let you know that they require more space, and it is what you could call as ‘root bound’. 

It is quite common among the cactus to grow in small containers and they could continue growing in the same containers for so many years.

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However, whenever you see your cactus roots have come out from the pot, it is an indication that the roots have expanded, and you need to provide a slightly larger pot.

Pencil Cactus Repotting

pencil cactus repotting guide

Repotting kit

It is vital that you have the following elements which would be useful when doing repotting.

  • Pruners or shears – it would be useful if you wish to trim your plant
  • Larger pot
  • Soil mix
  • Gloves – it would be useful when you interact with the plants which will help you to keep the hands clean and avoid any allergies. Moreover, ensure that you are wearing something which has long sleeves along with long pants. In addition to that, make sure you are wearing eye protection as well.

Best soil to repot pencil cactus

In terms of providing the best soil mix for the pencil cactus to grow, it should ideally be a gritty soil mix which has an excellent drainage.

If you are using a regular potting mix, it would be too high in density for them to grow. Ideally, best is to use a potting mix which is specifically designed for cactus and succulents.

If not, you could make a soil medium on your own. You simply have to blend equal portions of all-purpose potting medium, perlite and sand.

Consequently, you will end up having a gritty soil medium which would be the ideal conditions for them to grow well. Further you may use worm castings and compost also.

More importantly, the soil medium has to be a well draining one. In case you have a pencil cactus which is grown outdoors, you could consider adding some loam to your soil.

Pencil cactus care after repotting

Should you water pencil cactus after repotting

Best is to wait for about one week before you water the pencil cactus. Literally, they have moved to new growing conditions and would require some time until they settle in their new home.

If you water them, at the very moment you repot the pencil cactus, chances are that it could attribute the cactus to rotting.

Hence, give them some time until they stabilize in the new growing conditions. By that time, soil medium would also be dry, and you should commence watering them at that point of time.

Pencil cactus dying after repotting

Chances are that the pencil cactus could die after repotting, if root rot occurs due to excess moisture in the soil. Basically, if you over water the cactus right after you transplant them it would cause root rots.

In addition to over watering, poor drainage of the pot would also cause excess moisture in the potting medium. Whenever you spot such conditions, you need to immediately take necessary actions to protect the plant unless you will end up losing the cactus.

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Pencil cactus drooping after repotting

When you transplant them, if you do not use a potting mix which is specifically designed for cactus and for succulents, that would cause these cacti to droop.

In any case, if you plant them in a regular soil medium, it will cause for wet roots and to retain too much moisture in the soil mix and they will tend to become dropping and ultimately chances are that they could even perish.

Pencil cactus leaning after repotting

You could come across this condition when your pencil cactus is running short of adequate sunlight.

When your cactus lacks enough sunlight, they tend to lean towards a way where they can absorb sunlight. To treat that you  could move the plant to somewhere they can absorb enough sunlight.

Pencil cactus falling over after repotting

There could be several reasons for falling over a pencil cactus after repotting. First it could be as a result of providing them with a larger container. Usually, you do not have to grow cactus in larger containers despite them outgrowing the older pots.

One more reason for the cactus to fall over after repotting would be due to the weak root system they have. Not only that, but also, under watering and over watering could also attribute the pencil cactus to fall over after repotting.

One more factor for these cacti to fall over could be due to pest damages. Hence, it is vital that you take necessary steps to remedy them so that you could protect the cactus from falling over.

Pencil Cactus Repotting

Repotting big pencil cactus

When you repot the larger pencil cactus, you need to make sure that you provide a slightly larger container for them when transplanting them.

Ideally it has to be 1-2 inches larger only from the initial pot. For the rest you could follow the same steps when transplanting which we are going to discuss below. So, keep on reading.

How to repot indoor pencil cactus

First you need to select a location where there is no one which will help to avoid any potential interaction with the plant sap.

Next select a fresh and a naval pot which would perfectly fit for the pencil cactus. Make sure the way you are using is not a larger pot for this purpose. One more important point to note is that the pot should be about 1-3 inches in width when compared to the root ball size.

As the next step, you could add well-draining soil mix to the pot. Ideally it has to be a succulent soil mix or even a cactus soil mix which you can obtain from stores easily. After that you could mix that with 1/3 perlite part to the soil.

When you do this, ensure that you are wearing gloves and long sleeves and long pants as well. Apart from that, make sure you wear eye protection when you take out the cactus from the old pot.

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The reason for that is because the plant sap could make allergies when they get in contact with your skin and could be harmful for your eyes too.

After that, you need to remove the cactus slowly and smoothly from the pot. To do this, you could use a shovel or even your hands. Make sure you do it gently without harming the cactus. Unless it would start to release its sap.

Now you could place the  plant in the fresh pot. After that, you could cover the roots with soil. Avoid losing the root ball when you are doing this as they would prefer to have compacted roots.

Wait for some time until you water them and then water  it thoroughly. Once you do it for the first time, you could water them again when the soil is dry like you do with the regular pencil cactus.

Finally, do not forget to  wash your hands with soap and with water once you are done with transplanting due to its toxicity.

Repotting overwatered pencil cactus

Immediately separate plants from the soggy soil. Then carefully remove soil attached to the roots. If there is any rotten root remove those too.

Then let the roots dry a bit. After the root dried, repot the plant in a new pot with fresh soil. Do not water the plant as soon as you repot. You can water the plant on the 2nd or 3rd day.

Repotting pencil cactus after root rot

First of all, make sure that the soil medium is dry before you transplant them. After that you could take the plant off from the pot smoothly and get rid of the old soil.

After that you could snip any rotten roots which you could spot discolored and dead. After that you could place them in the new pot and keep on adding the potting medium.

How to repot a dying pencil cactus

You could report a dying pencil cactus from getting rid of the old soil first. Next, you could replace it with a sterilized soil mix.

Before you transplant them, make sure that you wash the roots well. Only then you could transplant them in a new soil mix or in the sterilized soil mix.

Alternatively, you could obtain cuttings from them and use them for propagation to make new plants.


In the end, pencil cactus repotting is similar to repotting other succulents, it just takes a little bit extra care, because of the unusual shape and toxic sap.

Don’t be deterred by the prospect of repotting your pencil cactus; if you follow the steps we’ve laid out here you should have no problem. And soon your plant will reward you with beautiful blooms. 

Credit to : My City Plants

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About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.