Yes, you should repot succulents when you buy them.
The main reason for doing this is that most nurseries and stores that sell succulents grow them in soil that is not ideal for the plants.
The pot that the succulent comes in when you buy it is also typically too small for the plant’s current size and the roots will quickly run out of space to grow into.
You also need to replace both the soil and the pot in case they are harboring diseases or pests which could affect your other plants.
The best way to bring a new succulent home is to keep it inside a plastic bag at first, and only take it out when you are ready to replant it.
Keep reading to learn more about how to properly handle a newly-purchased succulent.
Why should you repot succulents when you buy them?
Just because the store where you bought the succulent sells these plants for a living, this does not necessarily mean that they care about the plants beyond selling them on.
Therefore, after buying succulents from a store or nursery, you should repot them as soon as possible for a number of reasons.
To check whether the soil is well-draining
The first reason you should repot a succulent after buying it is that you can never be sure whether the soil in the pot is sufficiently well-draining for the plant. Most nurseries just grow their succulents in dense, regular soil that retains way too much moisture.
To be sure, remove the plant from its old soil and replant it in well-draining soil that is specifically designed for succulents. For minimal effort, you will be ensuring that your new succulent is healthy and enjoys sustainable growth.
To inspect the roots
Another reason it is a good idea to repot a new succulent is because you then get a chance to inspect the condition of the plant’s roots.
Sometimes the plant may look healthy from the base up, but it could have had root problems for weeks.
Remember that succulents are native to the driest, most arid regions of the world and their fleshy leaves absorb and store water in case of dry spells. Thus, they only ever need to be watered when the soil in their pot is dry to the touch; any more than this is not healthy for their roots.
Root rot is one of the most common problems encountered by succulent owners. It is a condition that develops when the plant’s roots stand constantly in soggy soil that is never allowed to dry out, and the roots eventually drown and die.
The dead roots will become vulnerable to opportunistic fungi and bacteria, which will cause the rot to spread to the rest of the plant until it eventually dies.
When you repot your succulent, you get to see the state of the plant’s roots and can remove dead and rotten root sections, thereby saving your new plant from death by root rot.
To check for pests
Often the plant may look like it has no diseases or pests at first glance, but by repotting it you will be able to see any infestations that may be hidden in the soil.
There are certain insects that hide their larvae in the soil, so by simply replacing all of the soil in the old pot and disposing of the old soil properly, you can avoid a possible large-scale pest or disease infestation.
If the pot has no drainage holes
Another reason it is imperative to repot a new succulent is if the old pot does not have drainage holes.
This is fairly typical of succulents that are sold in stores. The lack of drainage holes makes it difficult to water the plant because any excess water stays at the bottom of the pot with nowhere to go, increasing the risk of root rot.
The plant may have outgrown the pot
Replacing the pot is also important in case the roots are already too crowded in the small pot. A succulent whose roots have nowhere to go can become rootbound, and this can lead to stunted growth, wilted leaves and even death if you let it go on too long.
How to repot a newly-bought succulent
Repotting a newly-bought succulent is like repotting any succulent, but you need to be extra careful not to damage the roots and leaves of a baby succulent.
Remove the plant from the old pot
The first thing you need to do is get the plant out of its original pot. When picking a new pot, choose one that has large enough drainage holes. It should have at least one hole that is an inch wide. The more holes at the bottom of the pot, the better, though.
If you have your heart set on a particular pot that is made of a material that cannot be drilled through, you can still use that pot, but then you need to add a layer of rocks at the very bottom before you put in any soil.
To remove the plant from its old pot, try squeezing the pot to help loosen the soil. This might not always work if the roots are crowded, in which case use a small knife to loosen the soil from the sides of the pot.
Gently tug on the plant to release it from the old pot, but make sure you do this slowly so as to not damage the succulent.
If you are still having a hard time removing the plant, you could just cut the old pot if it is made of thin enough plastic. If the old pot is terracotta, breaking it to free the plant is an option.
Repot the plant
Once you have removed the plant from its original pot, brush as much of the old potting mix from the roots as you can without damaging them. If there are roots that look particularly fragile, rather just leave a little bit of dirt on them.
Inspect the roots for sections that have turned brown or black. These are rotten roots and you will have to prune them off using a sterile pair of scissors.
Make sure only the healthy roots are left, and then lay the plant down on a dry paper towel to air-dry for several hours.
Fill your new pot a third of the way with succulent soil. Adjust the volume of soil according to the size of the plant and how tall you want it to stand from the top of the pot.
Make a hole in the middle of the soil and place the plant in it. Then add more soil to cover all the roots, but do not add so much that it covers any of the plant’s lower leaves. Leaves that are buried under the soil can rot.
Gently pat down the soil around the base of the plant to help secure its position and to make sure it does not fall over.
Do not water the soil immediately after repotting, because the fresh soil you used should contain enough moisture. You also do not want the plant to get accidentally overwatered because it is already stressed from being transplanted.
Wait at least one week before watering your newly-repotted plant. Then, check the soil’s moisture by touching it with your finger. If the top two inches of soil are dry, water the plant, but if the soil is still a bit damp, wait one or two days before checking it again.
Yes, repotting your newly-bought succulents is a good idea because the soil in the pot could be poorly-draining, the pot may not have drainage holes, and the roots may be crowded in the current pot. Furthermore, you will be able to check the current state of the plant’s roots, and you can check for the presence of pests and diseases.
Repotting a new succulent from the store is just like repotting any other succulent, except you might need to be even more gentle because these plants are not always grown in the best conditions and could have very fragile roots and leaves.
Once you have repotted your new succulent, it should adjust to its new environment in a matter of weeks and you can then care for it as you would your other succulents.
Image: istockphoto.com / joloei