Best Cactus Soil Mix For A Perfect Cactus

I love my cactus children. So I try to take care of them as best as I can. That means I am providing them with quality materials and sufficient care. When talking about quality materials, soil is the most important thing you need. Therefore in this article, I am going to explore about best cactus soil mix for your lovely cactus. Besides, we are going to cover how to make an appropriate cactus soil mix on your own and on some of the best soil mixes which are available in the stores.  

Before going into the best cactus soil mix, I want to start with a question my friend asked me one day. He asked me Do cacti need soil? The answer is yes, they certainly do. Some think cacti can grow without soil. That is completely wrong. Cactus need good soil to grow as same as other plants. 

Best Cactus Soil Mix

Cactus plants are renowned for their ability to store water in foliage. As such it is crucial that you provide a light potting and porous soil mix. It would help the cactus plants to absorb water adequately without letting the excess water build up in the soil mix. Water-logged soil is not suitable for cactus or other succulents. 

So when you water your cactus, you need to wait until the excess water moves out from the pots and is dried. This would ensure that your plants are getting hydration and at the same time it would avoid any potential diseases and other fungal infections.

Due to this reason, many people opt to go ahead with a special cactus soil mix to grow the cactus. They consist of inorganic elements as well as other organic materials. The inorganic material would provide fast drainage for the soil mix. Further, it would help you to create a low fertile potting mix as well.  

Why is regular potting soil bad for cacti?

Do not proceed with a regular soil mix to grow the cactus as it would be a poor choice. That is simply because a regular potting soil mix would tend to stay soggy and damp for prolonged periods. Cacti will face root rot and other diseases quite often especially if the soil is soggy. Regular soil mixes usually consist of elements such as peat, compost, and bark. Those are the elements that would retain excess moisture. So, never provide a regular soil mix as the potting medium for your beloved cactus.

In addition to that, regular soil mix will get too compacted, and it would not be healthy for the cactus. If you provide a compacted soil mix, it literally means the soil mix is too dense. Once the soil mix is too dense, it would take a longer period to wither. Consequently, it would create a  moist condition in the soil mix, and it would make the plants susceptible to rot. Compacted soil is very poor in drainage, and it would not suit the cactus.

Best Cactus Soil Mix

The best soil for cactus

A porous and well-aerated soil would be the best soil mix for the cactus. So, if you already have a soil mix and if you wish to make it better, you need to add gravel, grit or any other similar elements to that. You need to add one-third of organic elements into two-thirds of inorganic matter to make the best soil mix for the cactus. Further, you can add elements such as gravel chips to amend the soil further.

In addition to gravel chips, you could use crushed granite, poultry grit, or even aquarium gravel. Apart from that, you could also make use of ingredients such as pumice, and perlite as they are light and high in porosity. They would further increase the draining of the soil mix as well.

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Furthermore, keep in mind that cacti need to be hydrated for their survival. So, when watering you need to water the cactus thoroughly and let it dry afterward. Keep in mind that the right soil mix needs to dry out within a couple of days. To further elaborate on this, cacti would prefer to have a soil mix similar to what they get in their natural habitats.

If you wish to make a homemade soil mix, I don’t recommend using elements such as vermiculture. They can help to lose the soil, but they would tend to retain too much moisture within the soil mix and would not work well with the cactus plants. Despite the fact that cacti grow in sandy soil mix in their natural habitats, I don’t recommend using sand alone for the cactus soil mix.

Chances are that sand could be too fine and would not be beneficial in providing a sufficient nutrient for the soil mix. However, the most appropriate sand type which would suit the cactus would be coarse horticultural sand. Having said that, it is always best to use ingredients such as grit, gravel, perlite and crushed stones rather than using coarse sand.

Best Cactus Soil Mix

The common ingredient in best cactus soil

The common ingredients of the best cactus soil mix would be such as large portions of gravel, grit, pumice, and regular soil mix. Let’s have a deeper look at the common ingredient in the best cactus soil mix.

Regular soil

Keep in mind that you use a sterile and fresh soil base for the cactus. The organic material would retain enough moisture which would be adequate for the cactus roots to absorb. However, I don’t recommend using the soil from the garden. If you end up using backyard soil mix chances are that it may comprise pests, bugs, diseases and other problematic organisms as well. So, when you make the right soil mix you need to use regular potting soil as the base. After that, you may add the other ingredients such as pumice, grit etc. 

Perlite or pumice

Perlite is a natural mineral that many people use to amend the soil. Perlite is a light ingredient. Besides, it has a high porosity and a good aeration ability. Perlite is a small mineral piece that would enhance the space in the potting mix. Consequently, it would create good air circulation and a good draining facility as well. Eventually, it would result in vigorous root development of the cactus.

Perlite is more like a volcanic material and resembles Styrofoam balls. Usually, perlite is exposed to intense temperatures during the production process. Ultimately it would look like popcorn. Keep in mind that there will be no chemical, or any other synthetic materials would be used here. As such, if someone is very much into organic gardening, perlite would be the one to try out.

More than that pumice consists of hundreds of tiny holes and due to that, it would have a porous look. So, when you amend the soil using pumice it would create a well-draining soil mix which would be ideal for the cactus. On another note, perlite is cost-effective when you compare them with pumice. Besides, you may easily find them in garden stores too.

Gravel or grit

One more essential ingredient in the well-draining cactus soil mix is gravel or grit. You may add elements such as poultry grit, aquarium gravel, crushed limestones, or even granite pieces to increase the draining of the soil mix. Literally, you may make use of any inorganic elements as long as they don’t retain water and contribute to a good aeration feature in the soil mix. if you really wish you may use coarse sand for this. However, refrain from using sand from the beach and from the sandbox.  Chances are that they may carry bugs that would be harmful to your cactus. 

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Best Cactus Soil Mix

Homemade cactus soil mix

If you want to make a cactus soil mix on your own for the indoor grown cactus, you need to first get ready with supplies such as cactus soil mix, gravel perlite and regular potting soil. So, to make the right cactus potting mix, you need to add one part of regular potting soil, and one part of perlite into one part of grit or coarse gravel. Next, you need to put all of these into one large bucket. You can mix these three elements by using a trowel. Ensure that they are all mixed properly and now you are all set.  

If you want to make a soil mix for the outdoor grown cactus, you need to still ensure that you are making a  light porous soil mix. It should ideally consist of gravel and small stones. They also require a soil mix that is fast draining. Bear in mind that outdoor grown cactus absorb ample sunlight and better aeration compared to indoor-grown cacti.

This literally means the excess water would evaporate at a rapid rate compared to the indoor-grown cactus’ excess water evaporation rate. Ideally, you need to select a spot in a raised rock garden to plant the cactus. Those rocky soil would evaporate water faster. On the other hand, you may add plenty of grit or gravel to your cactus garden.

Best cactus soil in stores

Sun Gro Horticulture Cactus Mix

Sun Gro Horticulture Cactus Mix is more like a gold standard for cactus mixes. This is a fairly effective soil mix for vigorous and healthy cactus growth. Many people consider the Sun Gro Horticulture Cactus Mix as a light mix as they don’t weigh too much. That is because it comprises a minor component of organic matter which would be ideal for the cactus. The more you use the organic material the more they will hold onto the excess moisture.

You may simply use them directly on the plants. They don’t contain any pests or any other contaminating organisms. However, if you have a super heavy cactus, I don’t recommend using the Sun Gro Horticulture Cactus Mix as it would be too light and would not provide sufficient anchorage to large cactus plants.

Fast Draining Soil Mix for Cactus

You may go ahead with this coarse sandy potting mix as they are high in porosity. This literally means they would ensure there is excellent draining in the soil mix. So, you may simply add some coarse sand into the regular soil mix and then use it.

Bonsai Jack

Bonsai jack is more like a gritty soil mix which would be quite effective for cactus. These are some fast-draining soil mixes that would come up with large particles of inorganic matter and a few organic matters as well. Bonsai jack usually consists of fine pine bark, surface and some calcined clay. These elements would ensure good drainage, lightweight, and a good anchorage for the plants. Last but not least it would avoid any potential root rot as well. Furthermore, Bonsai jack uses an effective anti-pathogen regimen too. This literally means you can use them straight out of bags as there will be no pests included.

It is noteworthy that Bonsai jack is somewhat costly. Although it is a bit expensive, it gives you the best results. 

Organic Succulent and Cactus Soil by Bliss Gardens

Organic Succulent and Cactus Soil by Bliss Gardens usually consist of coconut coir and peat moss However these are not quite good to use for the cactus. That is simply because these two elements would be retaining water a lot. However, some succulent and cactus lovers are using them whilst ensuring that they water the plants precisely and following up on the plant’s health.

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Epsom Organic Cactus Mix

Epsom Organic Cactus Mix is yet another water-retaining soil mix. The main ingredients of the Epsom Organic Cactus Mix are high components of organic materials such as peat moss. These high components would retain more moisture in the soil mix. However, Epsom Organic Cactus Mix has excellent airflow. That said, I don’t recommend using this on the fragile cactus. However, if you have hardy cactus, Epsom Organic Cactus Mix would be the one to try out.  Bear in mind that Epsom Organic Cactus Mix is a great alternative for Miracle-gro.

Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix by Superfly Bonsai

Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix by Superfly Bonsai are another gritty soil mix type. It is a combination of numerous materials and that has made it a fast-draining soil mix. Since these are fast-draining soil mixes.  it would protect the plants from overwatering. They usually come up in a resealable bag and it would avoid the soil mix getting contaminated.

Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil

Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil mix is what many cactus growers use especially in the USA. They also have a low component of organic materials and plenty of varied particles. If you use Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil, you can water the plants without worrying. In other words, you do not need to monitor the plants on how they do after watering the cactus. Not only that but also, Fat Plants San Diego Succulent Soil consists of few organic materials, and they would nourish the plants and stimulate their healthy growth of them.

Cactus Mix with Mycorrhizae by Green Planet Naturals

You may use Cactus Mix with Mycorrhizae by Green Planet Naturals soil mix very easily. This is more like a  solid cactus soil mix. However, they have relatively bit more organic materials compared to other soil mixes aforesaid.  

These soil mixes usually comprise a larger component of pumice which would enhance the water draining facility of the soil mix. In addition to that, it would assure a good airflow in the soil mix as well. It is noteworthy that Cactus Mix with Mycorrhizae by Green Planet Naturals comprises mycorrhizal fungi which would increase the plant’s nutrient uptake.

Related questions

Is coco peat good for cactus?

Generally speaking, coco peat is good for the cactus. However, if you use coco peat for the cacti, ensure that you strict watering schedule.

Is vermiculite good for cacti?

To answer the question of whether vermiculture is good for the cactus, yes, they are. But you need to check its moisture level from time to time. However,  it would stimulate the healthy growth of the plants. Vermiculture is renowned for its possibility to enhance soil aeration as well. It would further increase the nutrient uptake too. So, all in all, vermiculture is good for cacti.  

When should I repot my cactus?

You need to repot a cactus at the very moment you see its roost coming out of the draining holes. However, generally speaking, you need to repot the cactus once every two to three years. 


To wrap up, the best cactus soil mix should be well drained and well aerated. So, bearing this in mind you may either make the right soil mix on your own or even choose a commercially made soil mix which is explained above.

Credit to: Plantalogy

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About author

I’m Dr. Chamika, As a hobby love talking about plants and showing you that taking care of indoor plants. My website is knowledge I’ve learned over the years and continue to learn about growing succulents. If you’re a succulent lover, then you have come to the correct place.