Behind every healthy cactus lies well-conditioned soil. It is of utmost importance to choose the best soil for cactus because it helps the plant grow well, produce a beautiful flower, keep its spiny structure, and preserve its appealing forms.
Cactus as a houseplant usually needs soil that closely resembles its natural habitat—the desert.
For that reason, the following information will be your guide in choosing and creating the best soil for cactus for them to have a long lifespan:
Best Soil for Cactus: Its Characteristics
Knowing the best soil characteristics for cactus is essential because it will serve as your foremost guide to choose the perfect soil and which type you should not use.
The soil should be well-draining since it usually grows in an arid environment. This kind of soil helps remove the excess water so that it will not result in root rot.
- Pebbly and Sandy
Since it is a desertic plant, therefore, the best soil for cactus should be pebbly and sandy in a reasonable amount. Cactus tends to grow well in this type of soil that dries quickly. Moreover, pebbles help to enhance drainage that supports the excess water to move freely.
The soil’s pores help sustain the nutrients and retain the ample amount of water needed by the roots and the cactus. It is important to remember that the best soil for cactus is also a porous one if you want a heartier plant growth.
The Right pH Levels
The soil reaction’s pH indicates the relative acidity (sour) or alkalinity (sweet) of the soil. With that, the best soil for cactus should be in the pH range of 5 to 6.
In most cases, it might result in the death of the cactus when the pH of the soil you used is below four and higher than the pH range of 7 to 7.5.
One tip for maintaining the balance of the soil pH is to use rainwater. On the other hand, you can use a commercial test probe or pH test strips to examine your soil mix if it has the correct pH.
Organic and Inorganic Ingredients
The following are some organic and inorganic ingredients in nature that will help you create the best soil for cactus.
- Coco Coir and Composted Rice Husks
These are known as the highly recommended and best organic media to be included in your cactus soil mix.
Aside from the fact that they give structure and helps to withhold the moisture in the soil mix, coco coir and composted rice husks are rot-resistant, and most importantly, they can fasten the nutrients needed by the plant.
- Peat Moss
It is considered one of the premier ingredients of a cactus potting mix. Its relevance to the soil’s porosity is known for its significance, wherein it lowers the soil’s pH level.
Please note that the soil only needs a pinch of peat moss because it has excellent water retention.
So when you used a large amount of this in your soil, it can store more water than a cactus needs, which may result in overwatering and eventually root rot.
2. Inorganic Media
The best soil for cactus needs to be sandy. That is why one of the ingredients is coarse sand; it is commonly used in a cactus potting mix to make sure that the soil is airy and dries well.
A famous example of coarse sand ideal for cactus is the cleaned sand used to make cement.
This ingredient is on the top list of recommendations because of its superb aeration ability; it helps keep the potting mix’s moisture and avoid soil compression.
Generally speaking, a cactus potting mix usually carries about 25% to 30% of pumice. This ingredient is best known for its porous quality and can withhold enough moisture because it gives more space for the air to pass through.
It helps the water run smoothly through the soil, and this volcanic rock contains micronutrients that are beneficial to the plant.
Vermiculite is good at aerating soil, keeping enough water, and removing the excess one. It can be combined with peat moss when you want to lighten your soil to grow the plant’s roots better.
Furthermore, it is used for healthier plant growth because it allows the plants to absorb potassium, calcium, ammonium, and magnesium.
- Gravel, Grit, and Crushed Granite/ Limestone
These inorganic ingredients are commonly used in a cactus potting mix to ensure that the soil is well-draining and can absorb nutrients.
More so, these make the best soil for cacti a loose and airy one.
What if you want to use a commercial soil mix?
If you do not have enough time to create a cactus potting mix, another option is to purchase commercial cactus potting soil, but it is vital to ensure that it is the best soil for your cacti.
Always remember the following when choosing a commercial potting soil for your cactus:
- Please note that commercialized potting soil is not that good enough for your indoor cactus plant. A remedy for this is to combine it with pumice or other organic/ inorganic media to achieve the soil’s suitable porosity and improve its mineral content.
- Choose the cactus potting mix that is a well-draining one and has superb water-storing quality to keep the soil’s moisture.
Reminder in making your cactus soil mix
It would be a lot cheaper when you make your cactus potting mix, but it does require effort and time. There is no single recipe for a cactus potting mix, the one needed by a desert cactus differs from what soil mix is required by a jungle cactus.
You should avoid using manure in your soil mix because it tends to produce a fungus that can harm the cactus’s roots.
For plants, water has the same importance as soil. Choosing the best soil for cactus helps the plant to thrive best. That is why the tips mentioned above will be beneficial for you as a plant enthusiast.
Always ensure to pick the soil potting mix ideal for your cactus for a heartier growth rich in nutrients, well-draining, porous, pebbly, sandy, with the right pH level, and uses organic or inorganic media.