Cactus Soil: Every little thing you could know

We all know that cacti come from the desert. But what if you live in the north, in the tropics or in a place that is not filled with sunburned sand? Can you still grow a cactus? The answer is yes, but only if you have the right cactus soil.

In this article, we'll go over the flooring needs of cacti and explain what you can do to help them thrive. It is not difficult to deliver exactly what your cactus plants enjoy!

Great pre-made cactus blends:

What cacti need

High quality cactus soil can be fundamental to your plants. Source: Müllenkedheim

Let's look at how cacti have adapted to the desert. The camels of the plants store moisture in their stems and leaves in order to survive long periods of drought. The exterior of the plants is used to being dry and warm, even underground. Because desert soil is rarely drenched over a long period of time, cactus roots do not respond well to constant moisture. When they sit in the water, they usually rot and die.

To protect your plants from excessive moisture, cacti need a well-drained soil. Too damp and the plant can suffer from root rot. The water should flow quickly through the floor to keep it moist. However, it shouldn't have a muddy consistency. Depending on the location of the cactus, the well-drained soil is usually completely dry 5-7 days after watering.

The right potting soil for cacti is not just about dirt. One of the most important components of growing succulents like cacti are drainage holes. If your cactus pot doesn't have one, the water fills the bottom of the pot and soaks the roots.

If you put gravel under the ground, this cannot replace a drain hole. As a result, the water is only built up by creating an artificial groundwater table. We explain how to do this in the video below!

If you really want to keep your cactus healthy, you need to invest in good soil with excellent drainage. You will also need drainage holes in your pots.

Make your mix from scratch

Cactus plants in potsMost succulents and cacti require a granular, well-drained mixture. Source: EltonHarding

It is very easy to mix your own juicy potting soil. It is often cheaper to do so. You only need three components: a basis, course material and a supplement. With the right balance, you can mix a soil that is perfect for your cactus.

When referring to parts here, each "part" is a container of the same size. This can be as little as a cup or as much as a cubic foot, depending on how much you want to mix. Simply use the same container to measure each part.


As a rule, all potting mixes are made from a mixture of peat humus, peat moss and occasionally long-fiber peat moss. These materials retain moisture, but most of all they drain excess water very well. You want some moisture to remain, but the extra water needs to drain off easily to protect your succulents!

While it is possible to make your own mix, a lot of fine-tuning may be required to reflect the commercial mix and its effectiveness. Peat humus – the material from which the bottom layers of a peat bog are made – is a very expensive material. A bag of sphagnum peat moss makes a lot more sense and is usually sterilized to ensure the safety of your plants. Finding sterilized sphagnum long fiber moss is also a challenge. However, sometimes it is also available in bags to be embedded in reptile tanks.

The easiest option for most gardeners is to use a pre-made potting mix for African violets. An African-violet soil mix usually contains the right ratio of humus, peat moss and long-fiber moss, as well as a coarse material to ensure drainage. In addition, a pre-made mixture like this has been sterilized to protect it from potential pathogens that could harm the plants in your garden.

For our home improvement recipe, we recommend using two parts of African-violet soil mix.

Coarse materials

Ventilation is an essential factor in making the soil recipe ideal for a cactus. Too much soil or peat products do not allow enough air to reach the roots. So we're going to add an equal amount of coarse material to the potting soil. Perlite is an excellent choice because it works well. Pumice stone, coarse-grained sand and poultry grain can also work well here.

When starting with a DIY base, use coarser material than when you use the African violet mix. Keep in mind that the African violet mix already contains some rough material.

For our home improvement recipe (with the African Violet Mix) we recommend 2 parts of rough material. A good mix is ​​a part of pearlite, a part of coarse sand. This breaks up the peaty goodness with a lot of granular material, but half of them are smaller particles. This ensures both drainage and ventilation.


As with cooking, other ingredients can be added and adapted to your taste. Some gardeners prefer to use coconut, which is very similar to Sphagnum's peat moss. Others may add vermicompost. Orchid bark is another common additive for aeration of chunks. It really depends on your personal preferences and what works for you and the plants you grow.

Limit your supplements to small amounts. We recommend using less than one-piece supplements in your potting soil.

Mix it up!

Depending on how much you earn, you can mix the cactus potting soil in a large bowl, bucket, or even a wheelbarrow. A shovel or trowel is perfect for mixing. Combine your ingredients dry and then test your creation. Fill a small pot with the cactus mixture and give it a drink. The water should flow out of the drain hole fairly quickly and at the same time wet the floor. The floor should not be so damp that it is mushy, but should feel damp.

What about fertilizer and cactus compost?

Most cacti and other succulents benefit from fertilizer, but only at the right time. Many varieties only need it at the beginning of the growing season. For this reason, we recommend that you first keep cactus compost and fertilizer out of the soil mixture. You can apply it to the ground later when the time is right for your cactus.

Best cactus soil mixes

If you don't have the time or energy to prepare your own cactus, there are many options. Succulent soil is almost everywhere, especially because succulents are so popular! Here are some of our favorite brands.

1. Espoma Organic Cactus Mix

Our premium organic cactus blend from Espoma is ideal for succulents, cacti, aloe and even citrus fruits. It is designed to promote healthy roots and excellent drainage. It's also very natural. So what can you not love?

Espoma also has an excellent African Violet blend that is perfect for a DIY cactus base.

2. Hoffman Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

This mixture is ideal for desert and jungle cacti. It has a balanced pH, good drainage and contains growing information. It's also very organic

The right soil is essential for a good succulent garden. As a cactus owner, it's up to you to ensure this. Whether you make or buy your own potting soil, your cactus plants will thank you.

Last updated on 2020-01-23 / Partner Links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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