Repotting a Cactus

Hi there,

I don’t know if you can help me, but I need some advice on cactus care so I figured I’d give it a shot. I inherited this big girl (she is about 3.5 feet high) when a friend of mine abruptly left town. I was advised by a plant ID group that this is an Espostoa senilis. It seems to me that the cactus should be transplanted, either into a larger container or into the ground? I live in Portland, OR (8b) and although we don’t typically get down past 25F, it is quite wet here and often cool or gray. If I transplanted it, is it likely to survive? And should I wait until the hot, dry summer to transplant or would Spring be a good time (just had our likely last frost)? Also, any tips for transplanting are appreciated. She is SHARP.

Thank you so much!

Nice specimen cactus from your friend! Your “Old Man Cactus” is actually Oreocerus celsianus, though the Espostoa is another one also called Old Man Cactus.

These are not going to be hardy outside in Portland – definitely too much rain. Maybe if it was planted under an eave and in perfect fast draining soil and protected then it could survive. But I recommend replanting into another larger pot, and keeping it inside in a very sunny window.

We use nitrile gloves, if they are disposable then use 2 or 3 layers. Carpet scraps are a great way to be able to wrap up a spiny cactus for handling. Otherwise, use a roll of kraft paper and scrunch it up to get it around the cactus in multiple places so you can have something to hold onto to steady it. Break the pot. Leave the roots as is, and then lift into a larger pot that has been prefilled part-way with fast draining cactus soil. Fill around the root ball with more fresh soil, and do not water for 2-3 weeks after that to help it heal.

Lots of sun, not a lot of water, and make sure the pot drains when watering so it never sits in water.
Good luck!

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