When it comes to growing succulents and cacti, you have a lot of options when it comes to pots. Cactus and succulent pots come in many different shapes, sizes, materials, and colors. And there are a lot of different types of pots available, too.
Cacti and succulents are absolutely wonderful plants. They come in all sorts of unique shapes and can add so much variety to a garden.
Since they are much more resilient and exciting than other plants, people are becoming more and more drawn toward their appeal.
Everyone knows that cacti are desert plants, and hot, dry areas are their natural habitat.
So, to emulate that environment in your personal garden, there are special needs that you need to take care of if you want to be a good cactus parent!
The pots and tools you choose for your cacti and succulents are essential to their healthy growth.
Once you have the right idea about what pots and tools you must use for your cactus, you can grow all sorts of exciting cacti and succulents and have the most unique succulent garden in your neighborhood!
Table of Contents
Why Should You Choose The Right Cactus Pot?
While many cacti and succulents can grow in regular pots, there are some needs for these plants which you must fulfill.
Choosing the right cactus pot will ensure the healthy growth of the plant and prevent it from being compromised by its own structure.
For example, cacti usually have shallow roots, so planting them in a deep pot might compromise their structure.
The plant will not be very stable since the roots will be near the surface and it might have stunted growth.
Cacti and succulents also need more well-drained soil than most other plants, and if the pot doesn’t allow for easy drainage, the cactus will quickly become over-watered.
This will cause it to eventually rot or grow mold, which might even kill the plant if the situation is not rectified.
Cacti are also somewhat susceptible to pest attacks, and many of these pests are harbored by the soil.
When you choose the correct pot, it will be the right size, and even if pests are trying to attack the cactus from the soil, you can easily spot them and pick them out.
An unnecessarily deep pot will just complicate the process and make it harder for you to spot the bugs.
The good news is that cacti are very resilient and don’t need too much poking and prodding by their owners to grow ideally.
Therefore if you make the conditions right the first time by planting the cactus in the correct pot and adding adequate soil mix, you will not have to fiddle around with it much.
You can just water the plants when needed and remove pests as you see them. The cactus will mostly take care of itself and grow to be a tall, handsome plant!
What To Look For In The Right Cactus Pot?
Now we know the importance of choosing the correct cactus pot. Succulents and cacti thrive when planted in a container that is ideal for them.
But when we say the right cactus pot, what exactly do we mean? What makes a cactus pot ideally suited for that plant? Let’s find out:
The size, width, and depth of the pot are of utmost importance when selecting a cactus pot.
First, let’s talk about the general size of the pot. As we have previously mentioned, most cacti and succulents have shallow roots.
These roots will be undermined in a large pot, and they will find it difficult to grow in a small pot.
And you must be thinking now that the pot should be similar in size to the size of the cactus, and while the cactus can grow decently in a similar-sized pot, watering that pot adequately might be tricky.
Therefore, the perfect size for the cactus pot is slightly larger than the size of the cactus. Once the cactus begins to over-grow the size of the pot, you should be able to repot it.
For repotting as well, taking the cactus out of a slightly larger pot is more manageable than taking it out of a similar-sized pot.
Secondly, we have the depth of the pot. The depth of the pot depends entirely on the succulent or cactus that you are planting.
Larger cacti tend to have deeper roots. For example, the blue-flame cactus can grow up to fifteen feet tall, and even the candelabra cactus can grow up to ten feet tall.
These cacti have deep roots to support them, for which they need deep pots. On the other hand, small cacti such as the moon cactus and the peanut cactus need smaller pots to grow.
Sometimes, the cactus can grow larger than you anticipated it would. If you think your cactus is growing too large, you should check the drainage holes for protruding roots.
If you can spot the roots, it is time to repot the cactus into a deeper pot!
Thirdly, we need to consider the width of the pot we want for our succulent baby. The width of the pot also depends on the size of the succulent you want to plant in it.
If you choose a narrow, cylindrical pot for a cactus that grows large, you might be able to see its roots protrude from the sides of the pot.
This can compromise the integrity of the plant and prevent it from getting the nutrition it needs. Therefore, choose a pot with a width that complements the width of the cactus you are growing in it!
The size of the pot you choose matters immensely and can be the difference between a healthy cactus and an unhealthy one!
There are a variety of pot materials that you can choose for the cactus of your choice. Most cactus pots have specific benefits for the plant, and you should choose them accordingly.
The most common cactus pot materials include the following:
Ceramic pots can either be glazed or unglazed. Unglazed pots are porous and therefore preferred for the growth of cacti since the pores help with water drainage.
Cacti require drier soil than most plants since moist soil can damage the cactus. To dry the soil, the pot that the cactus is planted in needs to be porous, so unglazed ceramic could work so well.
Glazed ceramic pots do not have pores, but you can drill drainage holes to help your cactus grow tall and healthy.
The biggest issue with ceramic pots is that they are very heavy. Therefore, it is not recommended that you plant giant cacti in them since moving them will be a huge hassle. They can work superbly for small cacti, though.
Concrete pots are strong, resilient, and porous. These pots also come in unique shapes since they can be molded to your liking.
Using a concrete pot in your garden can elevate the aesthetics of your garden massively.
The pores in the concrete also allow for optimal water drainage from the soil, which ensures the healthy growth of the cactus.
These pots are ideal for an outdoor garden since they will enhance its beauty.
Plastic pots are inexpensive, and you can find them everywhere. And yes, you can easily grow your cactus in a plastic pot.
Plastic pots can come in all sorts of unique colors, shapes, and sizes to easily match the pot with your home or garden’s décor, making the plant look stunning.
The biggest problem with plastic pots for cacti is that these pots are not porous and can interfere with the soil’s drainage.
To overcome this problem, you would want to drill holes in the pot and allow for optimal drainage.
Other than that, plastic receives a lot of sun and heat damage, and the shape and strength of the pot can be compromised when it is constantly under the sun, making it not ideal for the outdoors. Plastic pots could be excellent for cold climates and indoor cacti, though.
The best thing about plastic pots is that they come in many unique shapes and sizes. They could be shaped like logs, rocks, and other natural objects. This way, the pots will add to the aesthetics of your garden or your home, as you wish.
Stone pots can look great indoors and outdoors. Natural stone pots are large stones that have been carved in the shape of a plant pot.
These pots are weighty, and you should only use them when you don’t have to move the plant around too much.
Lighter stone pots also exist, consisting of limestone mixed with fiberglass. These pots have all the aesthetics of natural stone pots with much less weight.
Cactus pots come in various shapes, from conical ones to cylindrical and square pots to pots that come in unique shapes like logs and stones.
The shape of the pot must be able to hold the cactus without compromising its roots and structure. Once that has been settled, you can pick out any shape of the planter, depending on what goes best with the décor of your choice!
Hanging Or Grounded
Cacti can grow large and tall, be small and cute, or be able to hang or trail.
Large cacti such as the Mexican Post cactus or the African Milk Tree cactus can grow tall and should not be hung. You can plant them in large pots that stay grounded.
Hanging and trailing succulents such as the Fish Hook Senecio or the Fox-tail agave can easily be hung in small pots, indoors or outdoors. You can also hang these succulents in grow bags.
And small cacti such as the peanut cactus can stay grounded or hung as you wish. It is purely a matter of preference whether you hang the pot or keep it grounded with these plants.
What Should Your Cactus/Succulent Garden Tool Kit Consist Of?
All good gardeners hold their tools dear, and succulent gardeners must be no different. Here are some essential tools that you need in your succulent garden to tend to those interesting little plants:
Tweezers are amongst the most critical tools that you should have in your succulent kit. They are incredibly versatile, which is why they are so important.
Many cacti are also spiky and touching them with your bare hands can injure you. Therefore using tweezers to maintain them is a brilliant idea.
It would help if you had different sizes of tweezers in your kit so they can deal with a large number of concerns. Tweezers can be used for the following:
- Plucking out dead leaves from the plant
- Removing small pests and bugs from the plant and the soil
- Plucking weeds that grow in the cactus’s soil
- Pushing roots back into the soil if they begin protruding
It is essential to prune your cactus from time to time so that old and rotting parts of the plant are removed, and it can grow strong and healthy.
Trowels are excellent and versatile tools that you can use for many purposes. They’re excellent for scooping up the soil when potting or repotting the cactus. A trowel can also scoop pebbles from the surface of the soil.
They can also cut through roots, which is how you can get rid of old, rotting roots on the plant. If the soil is too packed and not porous enough, the trowel can also help loosen it, making it easier for water to pass through.
While measuring cups are not essential, they could be the perfect tool to ensure your cactus only gets the amount of water it needs. This will remove the possibility of over-watering altogether.
It would be wise to have a range of measuring cups for all the different cacti you have in the garden.
Moisture sticks can measure the moisture level in the soil of your cactus. If you end up over-watering or under-watering the plant, it is important for you to know how well the plant is doing when you choose.
Moisture sticks are excellent for sensitive succulents since even the slightest deviation in their ideal moisture level could damage them.
Many pests can prey on your precious cactus. While quite a few people use pesticides to keep them away, pesticides should only be used if the pest problem has gotten out of control.
You can fill the spray bottle with a mixture of dish soap, rubbing alcohol, and water, which will help in preventing pests from attacking the plant in the first place.
Additionally, if you live in a hot area, your succulents might get scorched if they are in heat for too long. Therefore, you can also use the spray bottle on the succulent stem, leaves, and pads to cool the plant.
It is essential to use gloves while gardening since the microorganisms in the soil can infect you, the pests and bugs may bite you, or you can prick yourself on a cactus spine!
Alternatively, if you touch the plant with dirty hands, you might also end up infecting it.
Always keep a pair of gloves in your cactus toolkit, for your safety and the plant’s!
What Pot Materials Are Not Good For Cacti And Succulents?
While a cactus will grow in nearly any material, there are some which can compromise their health somehow. Some of these materials include the following:
Metal planters can be very aesthetic and come in unique shapes. While they might be suitable for some indoor plants, they do pose some problems.
Firstly, most metal planters are prone to rust. Every time you water the container, it will be more susceptible to rusting.
Eventually, the rusted planters will not only look bad but also compromise the quality of the water the cactus is taking up and compromise the plant’s health.
Other than that, metal planters are unsuitable for hot climates and hot days since they can get very hot. This heat can scorch the plant, which will kill it too.
Wood planters look gorgeous, especially in outdoor gardens. The wood can also be carved into interesting shapes, making it look beautiful.
However, the drainage of wood planters isn’t great, making these pots less suitable for cacti because cacti need dry soil. Its capacity to hold water can also rot the wood or grow mold on it.
Pests also attack the wood planters easily, and these pests can also harm the cactus.
You can use an open glass container for some cacti and other plants, however, glass is a very unsuitable material for cacti.
This is because there will be no drainage in the glass container, and if you water the soil, the water will have nowhere to go. The roots of the cactus will eventually then begin rotting, which might kill the cactus too.
Drilling holes in the glass container will also break the glass or compromise its structure.
Glass also heats up very quickly, and on hot days the glass walls could scorch and burn your cactus.
Containers For Indoor And Outdoor Use
Succulent gardens can thrive both indoors and outdoors. Many cactus varieties can grow perfectly well without the use of constant sunlight, and people love keeping these succulents in their houses. Now, what containers are best for indoor and outdoor use? Let’s find out:
Ceramic and terracotta ceramic pots look absolutely lovely indoors. They do not look artificial and impart a natural look to your house’s décor.
Glazed ceramic is better for the indoors since its non-porous surface will not cause water to leak everywhere.
Plastic containers are also widely used indoors. Plastic containers can come in all sorts of unique shapes and colors, which can complement the décor of your house wonderfully.
You can even paint your own plastic pots and help them match the décor.
Stone pots can also look great indoors. They make the room seem more natural and add a splash of color to monochromatic rooms. You can paint the stone pots to your liking as well.
Ceramic and terracotta pots, especially unglazed ones, look fantastic outdoors. They can blend in with the natural scenery and impart a gorgeous look to your garden.
They are also porous and can therefore quickly drain the soil of water, making for the healthy growth of the cactus.
Stone pots are also excellent for the outdoors. They blend with the outdoor scenery and often look fantastic. They may also be porous and help the water drain.
Concrete pots are wonderful for outdoor gardens too. These pots are heavy, but they can be molded and painted in different shapes.
Therefore, they are porous and can help with the efficient water drainage of the cactus soil. Concrete pots blend superbly with the outside scenery, making them perfect as outdoor plants.
Pros Of Choosing The Right Cactus Pot
So, how exactly does choosing the right pot benefit your cactus?
Healthy Plant Growth
The correct cactus pot will ensure that the cactus grows healthy and as tall as it can. This is because it will allow the water to drain from the soil quickly, and prevent overwatering of the cactus.
All good cactus parents would spend time choosing the correct pot for their cactus since they want it to grow up to be a beautiful little plant!
The right cactus pot is carefully chosen by keeping the garden’s aesthetics in mind. Therefore, the right cactus pot will help in enhancing the aesthetics of your house or your garden while also highlighting the attractive little plant it holds.
Less Need For Repotting
If you choose the correct pot the first time, you will possibly have little to no need for repotting the plant unless some mishap occurs.
This will save you a lot of time and effort, and you can simply focus on the healthy growth of the plant.
What Happens When You Choose The Incorrect Pot?
The main issue with choosing the incorrect pot for your cactus is that it will not be able to grow as healthily as it should.
Bad cactus pots have little to no drainage holes for the soil, so there is ample chance of over-watering the plant, which may cause the plant to grow fungus or even rot.
The pot may also retain high heat and scorch the plant. If you keep spraying the plant with water to cool it down, you might over-water it.
Rotten and scorched plants often attract different pests and bugs, contaminate your garden and even harm the other plants.
In conclusion, Although a cactus or succulent can live well on its own, a potted plant, with its choice of pot, soil, and fertilizer, can make a dramatic difference.
Succulents, for example, need to make up most of their water by evaporating from their roots and may be more sensitive to temperature changes than other plants.
They thrive in uniformly moist soil; however, overly wet soil can rot them. The soil mixture should have 50 percent rock, and the remaining 50 percent can be made up of sand, perlite, or vermiculite.
For cacti, pots with drainage holes and little space around their roots are normally best (they should be potted in 1-inch-deep soil).