Using the right type of cactus soil is extremely important, and I get asked about it a lot.
So in this post, I’ll tell you everything you need to know, including what it is, the best type, and how to make your own.
Cacti are beautiful and they make great houseplants, but they require a very specific kind of soil in order to thrive.
They’re extremely picky, and can quickly die if planted in the wrong medium. So you need to make sure to use the right potting mix for them.
In this article, you’ll learn all about the best soil for cactus plants, and get my tips for choosing the right type.
Then I’ll give you my recipe and detailed step by step instructions for how to make your own cactus soil mix.
Table of Contents
What Is Cactus Soil?
Cactus soil is a type of potting mix or medium that drains very quickly, and is specifically designed for desert plants.
This special mixture is commonly made from a blend of various non-organic ingredients, like pumice, perlite, grit, or sand.
It also contains a small amount of organic material, such as general potting soil, pine bark, or peat moss.
What Kind Of Soil Does A Cactus Need?
The type of soil that a cactus needs is a well-draining and extremely porous mix.
It has to drain very quickly, so it doesn’t hold onto too much moisture, and it should dry out within a day or two.
Related Post: How To Care For Cactus Plants
What Is The Best Soil For Cactus Plants?
The best soil for cactus plants is one that has coarse particles mixed with small amounts of organic material.
The perfect mixture ensures that water will flow through quickly, and it won’t retain moisture for very long.
It also allows for air pockets between the particles where oxygen can reach the roots, instead of become compacted.
Because of these attributes, the ideal cactus soil helps to prevent root rot, which can ultimately kill your plant.
Related Post: How To Save A Rotting Cactus From Dying
Benefits Of Making Your Own Cactus Soil
If you ask me, the main benefit of making your own cactus soil is that you can create the perfect mix for you and your plants.
But another advantage that people love is saving money. It’s much less expensive to make your own in bulk than buying it from a garden center.
You also control all of the ingredients. That way you know they’re safe, and there aren’t any undesirable additives (like moisture-retentive chemicals or synthetic fertilizers).
If you’re ready to learn how to make your own cactus soil, then keep reading!
How To Make Cactus Soil Mix
Many types of popular brands of commercial cactus mixes hold too much moisture for my liking.
They also commonly contain water-retentive ingredients like vermiculite, and contain way too much peat moss.
So over the years, I’ve done a lot of experimenting to come up with my own recipe using simple ingredients.
All of these are easy to find online, at your local garden center, or most big box stores. Below I’ll tell you more about each one.
Related Post: 7 Easy DIY Potting Soil Recipes To Mix Your Own
DIY Cactus Soil Ingredients
To make your own homemade cactus soil using my recipe, you only need three ingredients.
Below I’ll tell you about each one, and also give you substitutes so you have some options in case you can’t find them where you live.
The first ingredient is an all-purpose potting soil. This adds that small amount of organic material that we need for our mix.
I recommend getting one that is light and fluffy, rather than the heavy or cheap stuff. Avoid brands that say they retain moisture.
You can also use a commercial brand cactus mix if you prefer, which is great if you tend to overwater. Never use garden soil or dirt though.
The next ingredient is perlite, which is white and a very lightweight granular material.
It adds aeration to the soil and prevents compaction, which will help to protect your cactus from root rot.
If you can’t find this where you live, then you can use pumice instead, which is very similar.
The final ingredient is a coarse sand, which helps to ensure that our cactus soil mix drains quickly.
Make sure to use “coarse” rather than the really fine stuff, because that can become compacted. Also, don’t use beach sand or anything from your yard or garden.
I know I said you only need three ingredients, and you do. But I’m throwing this one is as a bonus, because it’s another great option to experiment with.
Pine bark is an organic ingredient that takes a long time to decompose. It adds even more drainage to the mix, and won’t become compacted.
Related Post: How To Water A CactusPlant
DIY Cactus Soil Mix Recipe
Now that you understand the purpose of each of the ingredients, it’s recipe time. Below I’ll give you my cactus soil recipe, as well as a list of the supplies you’ll need to make it.
* Use 2 parts perlite/pumice if you struggle with overwatering.
- Measuring container
- Trowel or shovel
- Container for mixing (I use a bucket or my table top potting tray)
- Dust mask (optional)
How To Mix Homemade Cactus Soil
Though I have it marked as optional, I highly recommend using a dust mask when mixing your own cactus potting soil. It’s not good to breath in those tiny particles.
Step 1: Gather the ingredients – Taking the time to gather and prepare all of your ingredients, tools, and supplies first will speed things up.
Step 2: Measure the potting soil – Measure out three parts of your potting soil and pour it into the bucket or tray.
You want to avoid large pockets of sand, so make sure to stir it thoroughly during this step.
Step 4: Mix in the perlite – Last, add one part of perlite. Then stir everything well so all of the ingredients are evenly distributed.
If your DIY cactus soil feels too thick or heavy, you can continue adding perlite until it feels right for you.
Storing The Leftovers
You can use your homemade cactus potting mix right away, or save it for later. I like to mix up a big batch and store the leftovers so I always have some on hand when I need it.
In this section, I’ll answer some of the most frequently asked questions about cactus soil. If you can’t find yours here, ask it in the comments below.
Is there special potting soil for cactus?
Yes, there is a special potting soil for cactus plants. It needs to have good drainage, dry out quickly, and provide aeration so oxygen can reach the roots. You can either purchase it or make your own by following the instructions above.
What is cactus soil composed of?
Cactus soil is composed of a mixture of organic and porous materials. Some examples include sand, grit, perlite, pumice, and bark.
Can you use regular potting soil for cactus plants?
No, I do not recommend using regular potting soil for cactus plants. It holds way too much moisture, which can cause rot, and suffocate the roots. Instead, you should amend it, or use a sandier mix.
Is cactus potting soil the same as succulent potting soil?
If made correctly, cactus potting soil is not the same as it is for succulents. Cacti need a sandier and faster draining mix. Though, many people do use the same kind for both, I don’t recommend it, especially for beginners.
Can you use cactus soil for all plants?
No, you should not use cactus soil for all plants. Since it’s designed specifically for desert plants, it will not retain enough moisture and doesn’t contain the right amount of organic materials and nutrients for most others.
Using a good quality cactus soil mix is very important for success. So, whether you choose to purchase it, or make your own using my recipe, you can find the perfect composition that is suitable for both you and your plants.
More Posts About Potting Soils
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- How To Choose The Best Jade Plant Soil
- How To Choose The Best Snake Plant Soil
- How To Choose The Best Money Tree Soil
Share your favorite recipe or tips for how to make cactus soil in the comments section below.