Cactus Soil

Best Cactus Soil

Are you growing cactus at home for the first time? If you are, then this guide might be helpful. One of the important things that you should consider when caring for cacti is providing good cactus soil.


Give them that and they will grow well, and won’t need a lot of your attention. They will make really good indoor plants as long as you provide them with enough moisture, enough sunlight, and the right potting mix.


Read our Best Cactus Soil Review to find out.

We all know that not all cactuses will grow the same way. Some species may require more moisture while others need soil that is more of an airy mix. And then there are some types that may need a little bit of regular potting mix—you know those flowering cacti for instance.


Because of these varying needs, I have reviewed some of the more popular and highly rated commercial cactus soil products below. I point out both the pros and cons of each of these products so that you can make a smart choice when you’re the market for these products.

Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 4 Quarts


Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix, 4 Quarts

This succulent soil mix was specially designed by its manufacturers for desert and jungle cacti. This particular mix also works well for aloe vera in case you’re interested in growing those plants as well.


One of the main ingredients of this particular commercial soil mix is Canadian sphagnum peat moss. It is mixed with other essential ingredients such as sand, perlite, limestone, and reed sedge peat.


These are the very ingredients that we mentioned earlier that would help provide good drainage and aeration for cacti and other desert growing plants.


Another good thing about this organic cactus and succulent soil mix is that it is already pH balanced. You don’t need to adjust the levels. Just take it out of the bag and put it in your pot.


If you inspect the package, it also comes with a bunch of tips that might be helpful to you as you grow cacti and other succulents as well.


This mix is a great option if you want to start plants from seeds too. However, do take note that it contains peat moss as well as peat. If you notice that the soil doesn’t drain that well, then add some sand and perlite into the mix to make conditions more congenial for your cactus.


Pros

  • Organic mix
  • Ready to use
  • Complete package
  • pH balanced
  • Provides good drainage
  • This soil mix is particularly beneficial to smaller cactus breeds
  • Works well for both desert and jungle types of cacti
  • Provides good drainage
  • Useful information on the package

Cons

  • Contains organic material (not for all types of desert growing cacti)
  • Due to some of the organic ingredients, it may not drain as well as other cactus soil that does not contain any organic material
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The Succulent Cult Premium Organic Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix, Fast Draining Pre-Mixed Blend (3 Dry Quarts)


The Succulent Cult Premium Organic Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix, Fast Draining Pre-Mixed Blend (3 Dry Quarts)

If you’re looking for a cactus soil mix that was designed by actual gardening professionals, then this might be a good option for you. They chose some of the best ingredients that suits container gardening.


It can be used on cacti that are grown either indoors or outdoors. From personal experience, I can say that it drains well, which makes it great for cacti. But it also retains enough moisture which also makes it a good option for growing other types of plants.


It’s a very versatile soil mix in short.


Some people worry that it might cause root rot since it does hold a bit of moisture. In my experience, it drains pretty well, leaving only enough water in the soil mix enough for cactus growing in pots.


Note that this soil mix is generally sandy, so I don’t recommend it for non-desert growing plants. That means if you’re raising jungle growing cacti then this might not be a good soil mix for it.


25% of the mix is made of limestone and perlite, which improves the aeration and drainage. The remaining 75% of the mix is sphagnum peat moss, which increases the nutrient content—great for flowering cacti.


Pros

  • Ready to use premix
  • Formulated by experts
  • Good drainage/drains well
  • Sufficient water retention

Cons

  • This cactus soil mix will smell like sewage the first time you open the package. I suggest taking it out of the pack and airing it out in your pot for a day or two.
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Kenzoplants Organic Succulents & Cactus Soil Mix, Professional Potting Soil


Kenzoplants Organic Succulents & Cactus Soil Mix, Professional Potting Soil

This cactus soil mix is made of 25% perlite and 75% peat moss. It also comes with a small amount of fertilizer too; please see the label.


Note that the peat moss content of this soil mix increases its moisture retention. That may be a problem for some cactus growers, especially those raising variants such as prickly pears and Saguaro.


Since this mix tends to hold more water than expected, then I suggest that you add a layer of pea gravel or perlite. That should help improve things for your cacti.


Don’t worry about the fertilizer content since it isn’t really that much. Your cactus may even appreciate it. The pH levels of this cactus potting soil is around 5.7 which is pretty good since it is within optimal levels for growing cacti.


Pros

  • 100% organic
  • Apart from growing cacti, it is also a good option for starting seeds
  • Soil is light and fluffy
  • Soil pH is ideal for cactus and other succulents
  • Drains well

Cons

  • It has a bit of a smell to it due to the peat moss—I suggest that you air it out for an entire day before you use for your cactus
  • This particular soil mix has a wee bit too much peat moss for my own taste. So, I added some more perlite to the mix to make it drain a lot better. Place the perlite at the bottom of the pot to improve the drainage. You can also mix in some sand into the actual mixture to increase aeration.
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xGarden 8 Quarts Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix


xGarden 8 Quarts Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

If you don’t want to mess around with the soil mix to make adjustments to the pH levels, then maybe the xGarden soil mix is a good option for you. On top of that, the package contains 32 cups of soil mix, which is great if you’re using bigger pots.


Again, if you don’t want to make adjustments to your cacti potting soil then you might want to check this out. Yes it also contains peat moss, but not too much.


However, you might think that these organic ingredients may make the soil more acidic. To address that issue, the manufacturers added pine bark to the soil mix, thus adjusting the pH levels to suit cacti and other succulents.


Pros

  • Works well for cacti and succulents
  • pH balanced
  • Good drainage
  • Easy to use packaging

Cons

  • The soil may lack drainage so I suggest that you add 20% to 30% perlite or pumice for better drainage.
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Wonder Soil Premium Cactus & Succulent Soil Mix


Wonder Soil - Premium Cactus & Succulent Soil Mix

This is a cactus soil mix that I have found recently and I’ve had very good results with it. It contains coco coir mix with some puma, kelp, and other water saving polymers.


It drains quickly and provides good aeration too.


Here’s an interesting detail about this soil mix. When you take it out of the bag, the first thing you should do is to add water to it. The water will make the mix expand. Do this first before you put the mix in your pot so you will know just how much soil you’re working with.


Pros

  • Professionally formulated
  • Good drainage
  • pH balanced
  • Expands the first time you use it

Cons

  • You may get some mold on the pot—so I suggest that you do your potting outdoors. Leave the mix in the pot for a day to test for mold after it has expanded. You may want to use some antifungal spray to get rid of the mold.
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Understand the Best Conditions for Your Cactus

Cactus Soil

This is probably one of the first mistakes I made when I tried growing cactuses for the first time. I thought they should be very easy to care for since these plants are characteristically low maintenance.


And this presumption caused my first try to turn out as a failure.


You need to learn more about your cactus plant in order to choose the best soil mix for them. For instance, I have learned the hard way that these plants tend to store moisture in its different parts such as the trunks, stems, and pads.


That’s how they store water during drought and dry periods. These plants also tend to do well even in harsh soil, very little rainfall, and plenty of heat. That means you have to choose a sunny warm spot for them during the day.

What Type of Soil Should You Consider?

Yes, your cactus won’t need a lot of water. But the thing that will really help ensure your success, even if you’re a beginner, is to provide the right type of soil for this type of plant.

 
For starters, you need to ensure that the soil mix will drain quickly but still hold the correct amount of moisture that your cactus plants will need.


Keeping that in mind, some of the options that you should have in your soil mix for cactus plants include sandy, pebbly, and porous soil. These are the types of soil that provide not just good drainage but also a lot of aeration.


Cactus Soil vs. Potting Soil


What makes cactus soil different from the other potting soil that you can find in stores and provided by gardening suppliers? Here are several features that differentiate them.

They Have Better Aeration

This is one of the features that makes commercially sold cactus soil different even from the soil where cactuses naturally grow in. We all know that cactuses thrive in the desert.


However, the soil in those barren areas tends to be dense and highly compacted. These characteristics can be quite challenging even for cactuses to grow.


Aerated cactus soil is superior in that it is more congenial for plants to take up root. Remember that cactuses have smaller shallow roots that tend to spread on the surface.


So, what should you look for in terms of better aerated soil for you cactuses? Here’s a couple of tips:


  • Look for soil mixes that include grit, rocks, and inorganic material. These things make the soil more fluffy and lightweight, which is great for cactuses.
  • Look for mixes that have pumice and perlite which contribute to the aeration of the soil. These are very porous and surprisingly lightweight.

After knowing about soil mixes that encourage more air flow, I was able to choose the appropriate soil for my cactuses and not just any potting soil will do.

Better Drainage

We mentioned this earlier. Better drainage is related to the fact that cactus soil provides better aeration. Aerated soil also tends to allow water to circulate better within the pot.


Note that there may be certain sections in your pot that will end up like a wet sponge. This is because the soil isn’t draining properly. These sections tend to cause rot, which is dangerous for any plant.


Here is a couple of tips drawn from my personal experience:


  • Do not include soakable hydrophilic materials in your potting mix. These aren’t suitable for cactuses. This means that your cactus soil should have very little to no wood shavings, peat moss, and other similar material.
  • If you want to improve the drainage of your soil, then add small stones, rough grit, and perlite.
  • This should be obvious but sometimes, we forget this detail—check the number and position of the drainage holes under the pot. Add more holes if there isn’t enough drainage.
  • Add a bottom layer of pea gravel or other smaller stones in the pot. They will prevent the drain holes from getting blocked or clogged.

Less Nutrients

Wait, what? How can fewer nutrients become a benefit?


Since cactus soil has fewer organic materials because you want it to drain faster than regular potting mix, then it will be less nutrient-dense. It won’t have a lot of potassium. This soil will have less phosphorus. And it will have lower nitrogen content.


How is that any good you ask?


It’s actually perfect for desert growing plants like cactuses. Out in the desert, cacti don’t really get a lot of nutrients from the soil. In fact, if they are transplanted to nutrient dense soil, the soil may even cause burning, which triggers unhealthy overgrowths in cactuses.

Conclusion

So, which is the clear winner of our product roundup? After considering all the pros and cons of these soil mixes, my best bet is:


Succulent Cult’s Premium Organic Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix


If you noticed, I had to make a few adjustments with almost all of the cactus soil mixes mentioned above. Succulent Cult’s mix is the only one that didn’t require any reformulation. It’s good to use right out of bag—the only problem with it is the smell.

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