Cactus soil is made up of both organic and inorganic components, making it a fast-draining, low-fertile potting soil. Perlite, gravel, grit, or crushed granite are some of the best soil ingredients for cacti since they help aerate the soil. Since they need a fast draining soil, indoor cactus plants must be grown in potting soil that differs from ordinary houseplant. Cactus soil is simple to create on your own and costs less than commercial cactus potting mix.
Cactus plants prefer a potting soil mix that is comparable to succulent potting soil, but with more inorganic stuff. Water drains quickly from a cactus potting mix that is mostly gravel (or grit) with some organic material. Cacti’s potting soil should dry quickly because they grow outdoors in arid, dry environments with little moisture.
Cactus plants require excellent drainage, so an aerated, porous potting mix is ideal. You’ll have minimal concern growing cacti indoors or out as long as you use a well-draining cactus potting soil mix.
In order to grow indoors, cactus plants don’t need much nutrients. As a result, peat moss, compost, and wood chips are unnecessary for a cactus potting mix. Cactus roots rot and the fleshy cactus plant dies as a result of too much moisture retention by these ingredients.
You’ll discover how to create the greatest cactus soil combination in this guide. In addition, there is a handy guide on how to make cactus potting soil for indoor plants.
Why Cactus Needs Special Soil
Because regular plant soil holds too much moisture, cactus plants need particular soil. The cactus plant roots can absorb enough moisture without retaining too much moisture thanks to a lightweight, porous potting mix. Watering should remove excess moisture from the cactus soil after it has been watered. The cactus is able to thrive and avoid rot and fungal infections by keeping it this way.
What Is the Best Type of Soil for Cactus?
The finest cactus soil mix should include 2/3 inorganic material and be well-draining. Mix gravel, grit, or other elements with ordinary potting soil to create an optimum growing medium for cactus. One-third organic matter (or potting soil, which mostly comprises of organic matter) and two-thirds inorganic material is the greatest proportion to make a potting soil for cactus or succulents.
Little gravel chips, crushed granite, poultry grit, and aquarium gravel are all examples of suitable soil amendments for creating your own well-draining cactus soil. Because it’s light and porous, pumice or perlite may also be used to improve drainage in cactus potting soil.
Cactus plants, like all plants, need moisture to thrive. Drenching the soil and leaving it to dry is the best way to water a cactus. In a day or two, the optimum cactus potting mix should dry out. As a result, cactus plant pots should be prepared in a dry, desert-like environment. Avoid soil amendments like vermiculite when preparing a homemade cactus soil blend. Vermiculite keeps too much moisture, which is not ideal for growing cactus plants in pots, despite the fact that it aids soil loosening.
Cacti grow in sandy deserts, but adding sand to a cactus potting mix isn’t recommended. The potting soil may become too fine when sand is used, resulting in poor drainage. Only very coarse horticultural sand may be used. Cactus soil, on the other hand, should be better off with grit, gravel, perlite, or crushed stones.
Why Regular Potting Soil is Bad for Cactus
Since it stays moist for too long, regular potting soil is a poor option for cactus growth. If cactus and succulent plants grow in too much moisture, they are susceptible to root rot and disease. Compost, peat, or bark in houseplant potting soil isn’t ideal for cactus because it tends to retain moisture. Another disadvantage of using a conventional houseplant potting soil for cactus is that it gets compacted quickly.
The cactus roots rot when the deep soil structure takes longer to dry out. Furthermore, compacted earth has limited drainage. You’ll need to lighten the soil by adding more grit, perlite, or gravel if it’s been wet for more than a few days in your cactus potting soil mix.
The Best Cactus Soil
A combination of one-third inorganic ingredients and one-third organic ingredients make the finest potting soil for cactus plants. Begin with ordinary potting soil that contains mostly organic matter to create the finest cactus soil. Next, to create an optimum growing medium for cacti, add grit and perlite for drainage and aeration.
Cactus potting soil requires a small quantity of organic matter, as just a little amount of organic matter retains just enough moisture to moisten the plant’s root but not so much that it gets soggy. Nutrients beneficial for cactus and succulent plant development are found in organic ingredients.
Remember, cactus plants can be killed by dampness if you don’t dry peat and compost properly. Succulents or cactus may be grown in ordinary potting soil, but you may easily transform it into a suitable potting soil. To boost drainage and encourage faster moisture evaporation, amend the soil with gravel, perlite, pumice, grit, or tiny stones.
Common Ingredients in DIY Cactus Soil Mix
Regular potting soil is combined with large proportions of gravel, grit, and pumice in the finest cactus soil mix. Use 2 parts inorganic material to 1 part organic matter for a homemade cactus soil mix. The perfect medium for cactus plant growth is created by combining these elements.
Let’s take a closer look at why the finest cactus potting soil requires more gravel and perlite than organic matter. The following are the components of homemade cactus soil:
Regular potting soil
The base for most homemade cactus soil mixes is a combination of regular potting mix and other ingredients. Your potting soil should be free of disease and fresh. The cactus roots can absorb enough moisture from the organic matter. To avoid root rot and damage, it should dry out as soon as possible.
Don’t use garden dirt when deciding on the best potting soil. Pests, bugs, diseases, and other issues may be found in backyard soil. Introducing houseplant pests like mites and gnats into your home, where they could contaminate other plants, is not a good idea.
Begin by using regular potting soil for your foundation in a cactus potting mix at home. Next, to create a perfect cactus soil with excellent drainage, use coarse ingredients like grit, gravel, or perlite.
Perlite or pumice
Perlite is a common soil amendment that consists of pumice (left) and perlite (right). Since it is porous, light, and airy, perlite is beneficial to cactus soil. Better airflow, drainage, and root development are all aided by the little white mineral pieces in the potting soil.
Perlite looks like little Styrofoam balls and is a type of volcanic substance. Perlite gravel is heated to scorching temperatures in the manufacturing process, puffing up like popcorn. There are no chemicals or synthetic materials used during processing. As a result, perlite is particularly suitable for organic gardening.
Another volcanic material that works well in cactus soil is pumice. Due to the hundreds of tiny holes, close up, small pumice pieces have a porous look. Pumice can also be used to improve the drainage of a planting mix for desert plants, cactus, or succulents.
Pumice aerates and drains like perlite, making it a great potting soil. Perlite is more popular than pumice for a cactus soil mix, but both types of soil amendments are comparable. Perlite is more common in garden shops and is usually less expensive than pumice.
Gravel or grit
The other important component in a well-draining cactus potting soil is grit or gravel. Poultry grit, aquarium gravel, crushed limestone, and granite pebbles may also be used as soil amendments. If it doesn’t hold water and creates an aerated soil, you may add any inorganic material. In your cactus potting mix, coarse horticultural sand may be used.
Sand from the beach or a sandbox is not recommended. Creating a suitable drainage potting soil requires beach sand that is too fine. Bugs and other nasties might also infest your cactus and succulents if they’re not cleaned properly. Gravel or grit suitable for making a cactus potting mix can be found in most garden centers, home improvement stores, do-it-yourself stores, and online shops.
How to Make Cactus Soil Mix
When the gravel, perlite, and regular potting soil are well-drained, your cactus will get enough nutrients. 2/3 inorganic substance (such as gravel and perlite) and 1/3 organic substance (such as potting soil mix) are recommended proportions for making the finest potting mix for cactus. A homemade cactus potting soil recipe is as follows:
- 1 part regular potting soil
- 1 part perlite
- 1 part grit or coarse gravel
This succulent plant soil may be amended if you wish. For succulents, use 2 parts regular potting soil to 1 part perlite and 1 part coarse sand to make a soil mix. Succulents prefer this light, sandy potting soil because it has excellent drainage.
How to mix potting soil for growing cactus plants
Put all of your ingredients into a big bucket to make a homemade cactus soil mix. Mix the soil/organic matter, perlite, and grit with a trowel until they’re thoroughly combined. You may plant your cactus plants in pots or in your yard once the soil is thoroughly blended.
Outdoor Soil for Cacti
Planting cacti outdoors requires the same soil requirements as potting soil mixes. A light, porous medium that is mostly gravel or tiny stones is required for cactus plants growing in the soil. Outside conditions, on the other hand, make soil drainage unnecessary for cactus plants.
In comparison to potted, indoor cactus, outdoor cactus plants receive more light and air. As a result, the soil loses moisture quicker. In addition, since soil bulk to plants has increased, drainage difficulties impact outdoor cactus plants less. Raised rock gardens are the optimum method to cultivate cactus plants outdoors. Water drains quickly on the rocky soil, and the raised berm or succulent garden prevents it from collecting around the roots.
Working in plenty of grit or gravel to your cactus garden is another technique to amend backyard soil for growing cactus outdoors. Make sure that water drains away from the cactus bed and that the cactus plants are in full sun. You may cultivate cacti in pots outside throughout the summer if you reside in colder areas. Bring the cactus pots inside and put them in a sunny area once the weather gets colder in the autumn.
The Best Potting Soil Mix for Cactus to Purchase
If you don’t want to make your own cactus potting soil, you can purchase one instead. The essential elements of organic material and inorganic drainage improvements are present in commercially produced cactus mix packets. Cactus soil mixes are available in three varieties:
Sun Gro Horticulture Cactus Mix — Forest humus, perlite, sand, and pumice are all included in this cactus soil mix. The inorganic component provides excellent drainage, and the blended soil isn’t too rich for cactus plants.
Fast Draining Soil Mix for Cactus — This is a lightweight, well-draining soil that is ideal for all types of cactus. A combination of substrate and perlite with little fertilizer is used in the soil mix.
Bonsai Jack — Because of the huge clumps of calcined clay and fine bark particles, this rough soil combination is suited for growing cactus plants indoors. This cactus and bonsai combination has excellent drainage, making it nearly impossible to overwater.
How to Choose the Best Pots for Cactus
Terracotta is used to make the finest cactus pots, which feature drainage holes. When you soak the soil, holes in the pot’s base allow excess water to exit freely through the bottom. If there isn’t one already, drill a hole in the bottom of the cactus pot. Choosing the right pot for cactus plants can be done in a variety of ways:
Terracotta or unglazed clay pots They’re great for growing cactus plants. Cactus soil can breathe through terracotta pots because they are porous. Moreover, since water evaporates faster in unglazed clay pots, it is easier to control soil moisture.
Glazed ceramic pots have a tendency to hold onto more moisture. When cactus plants are growing in glazed pots, you should generally water them less often.
Plastic pots cactus can be grown inexpensively in a variety of ways. Plastic pots, like glazed ones, keep more moisture in the soil. Before watering your cactus plant, always check the soil for dryness.
How to Plant a Cactus in a New Potting Soil Mix
To ensure healthy development, transplant cacti as soon as possible after purchase in a fresh potting mix. Cactus plants are seldom sold in top soil, and it is most often sold in ordinary potting soil. You can’t be certain how recently the soil has been watered or if pests are present.
Cactus that are rootbound may also be transferred to a new pot. Little pots are provided for cacti, however the plant may get confined. The roots have more space to develop and the soil drainage is improved by repotting in a new, somewhat bigger container.
For cacti, making your own potting soil blend is simple. The finest way to guarantee robust development with plump, succulent leaves is to repot cactus in a new, sterile potting soil.
How to Transplant a Cactus in a New Potting Soil
Every two to three years, repot fast-growing cactus plants. Every three to four years, repot slower-growing cactus types. Make sure the pot you choose has drainage holes at the bottom and is slightly bigger than the current one. When roots protrude from the drainage holes, a cactus needs to be repotted.
Repotting a cactus is simple, as shown below:
- The cactus should be removed from its pot.
- Brown mushy or dead roots may be checked by shaking the soil from the roots and trimming as needed.
- Repot the cactus into a fresh potting soil.
- Fill the cactus pot with water and put it in a sunny location.
How to Water a Cactus
Only water your cactus when the soil is completely dry to avoid over-watering. Let the pot’s fullness drain via the bottom. The cactus should be watered as frequently as the potting soil. Watering a cactus every week in the summer may be necessary.
Over-watered cacti hate. As a result, follow the dryness of the soil when watering your plants. The frequency with which you should water cactus plants varies depending on the temperature, sunlight, humidity, season, and kind of cactus. Don’t water on a regular basis.
Throughout the summer, cactus should be watered approximately every seven to fourteen days. Your cactus plant can survive many weeks without water during the winter. Cactus leaves are famously known for their succulent moisture storage. Water cactus plants less often rather than too much, as this is the safer option.