Repotting Large Cacti

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Repotting large and very prickly cactus like this one need not be difficult.  We put this guide together to help you.
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Repotting large and very prickly cactus like this one need not be difficult. We put this guide together to help you.
This cactus has formidable spines...no problem.
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This cactus has formidable spines...no problem.

Preparation for removal from Pot.

Carefully place smooth poles into the soil around the cactus.  make sure the poles are longer than the cactus and have a surface that will not damage the skin of the plant.
Try to get the poles "inside" or "between" rows of spines so that they are not crushed later on.
Tie above the Cactus
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Tie above the Cactus

Secure the plant to the poles.

Carefully tie the poles above the cactus, take care not to over tighten.  The PVC poles flex nicely without harming the eplant.
Tying at the bottom.
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Tying at the bottom.

Securing the poles continued.

Tie the poles around the base of the plant.  Not too tight, just enough to keep everything in place when the plant is in transit.  Remember the poles should be pushed deep into the soil.  Narrower poles would do less root damage.  It is best to do this when the soil is dry to minimise the chance of infection.
Ready to go.
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Ready to go.
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Removing the plant.

keeping everything straight the plant can be gently coaxed from the pot using the poles.  Lying the pot on its side while supporting the top of the poles to keep the plant parallel to the ground and pulling the pot carefully away works well.  Be sure to keep the root ball in line with the upper part of the plant.  Take your time remove soil if you have to.
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Planting

Make sure the new pot is exactly where you want it before you begin filling with soil or replanting.  Moving a large pot with a large and prickly cactus in it is easily avoided by good planning.
Any old measuring stick will do.
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Any old measuring stick will do.

Preparation

Measure the depth of the root ball.
Fill to correct depth.
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Fill to correct depth.

Preparation.

Fill the pot to the required depth using the measuring stick to get the level just right.
Into its new home.
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Into its new home.

Ready for planting.

Being sure to keep the root ball and plant aligned, use the poles to gently move the plant into its new pot, the depth should be just right because it has been measured.

Stabilise by pushing poles in deeper.
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Stabilise by pushing poles in deeper.

Getting settled.

As the poles are untied, push them in deeply to help keep the plant in place while soil is added.  Having the cactus fall on you is best avoided...and the poles will do that.
Don't water yet!!
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Don't water yet!!

Fill and settle.

Fill the pot with soil, don't compact it and don't water for a couple of days.  Some of the roots will be damaged, allow them to heal over before watering. 
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Get creative....

We went on to plant other cacti around this one and complete landscaping of this little corner.  The cactus is happy in its new home and no gardeners were harmed in the potting of this plant.
Remember that some succulents and cacti have toxic sap, avoid contact with skin and eyes. 

Safety - for humans...

Potting mix contains bacteria and moulds, wear a dust mask and gloves when potting and clean up with soap after.
Avoid contact with sap, wash off immediately and  seek medical advice if it is ingested or gets into eyes.
Always place prickly cacti away from pets and small children.

Safety for plants-

The biggest risks to your plants are infection and fungal attack.  To reduce the risk of infection sterilize equipment between jobs.  Make sure pots are clean and free of plant matter.
Do not water for several days after potting.  Do not overwater.  Use only fast draining soil appropriate to Cacti and Succulents.  There are many great recipes on the internet and most hardware and garden supply outlets sell bags of quality controlled Cacti and Succulent mix.
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