How to Pot a Cactus

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Planting or replanting a cactus need not be the hazardous task that the spines suggest it might be. The drawing below illustrates the potting aid available to everyone: a folded newspaper. With this you can completely encircle the plant and lift it by holding the folded paper ends, or you may find it easier to grasp the plant with the folded paper between the plant and your hand.

Heavy work gloves will allow you to handle most kinds gently without the spines penetrating to your hands. Kitchen tongs, too, can be especially helpful; those which hinge at the center and are operated like scissors are best. A newspaper "chute" is the simplest convenience for filling soil in around the roots of a cactus you are repotting.

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This keeps hands far enough away from spines that the danger element is eliminated. Place a moderate amount of potting soil on a square of paper (at least 1 foot square), then grasp paper from the centers of opposite sides; the cross-section of the paper with soil will form a "U" or an inverted teardrop. From this paper chute, simply pour the soil into the pot around cactus roots.

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