What Is in Cactus Soil? (What Is the Best Soil For Cactus Plants)

So you bought a Cactus plant! Congratulations on making that leap! However, buying a cactus plant and taking care of it are two different ordeals completely.

We find that buying a cactus is easy when you know what you want. However, maintaining a cactus plant is where the real struggle lies.

The maintenance for plants and, thus, cactus is also fairly simple. Cactus plants need water, sunshine, soil, and nutrients.

However, cactus soil is not the same as the other plant soils. Thus, you should be aware of some nuances in cactus soil as you start to take care of your cactus plant.

Cacti are loved all around the world. However, with the TikTok generation, we see a rise in people opting to keep cactus plants and succulents as cute decoration pieces on their tables and in their homes.

Compared to other plants, a cactus plant will demand a different type of soil from you. You may be thinking about the difference that exists in cactus soil.

In the article below, we’ll discuss cactus soil and which one is best for cactus plants.

What Is in Cactus Soil?

Cactus Soil is not simple, loamy, or clay soil. Cactus are mostly found in deserts and arid environments. Thus, the soil in a cactus plant will also be rather dry.

Cactus soil is also likely to be a mix of different things. You can also make the cactus soil in your home.

You have mainly inorganic materials in the cactus mix. It has sand, pumice, gravel, and even perlite.

This mixture is great for cactus soil, and it helps with the drainage that cactus requires.

A great degree of drainage is necessary for cacti as it helps their roots from rotting.

What’s So Great About Cactus Soil?

Cactus soil in and of itself is not great. However, what it can achieve for the cactus plant itself sets it apart.

Cacti soil is different because it can mimic the exact environment that a cactus may witness in the desert.

The soil provides safety from rot and helps the cactus exist as best as possible.

Cacti also have shallow root systems, which are extremely delicate, so you want to protect them as best as you possibly can.

Thus, cactus plants cannot physically deal with a soil system that is too dense.

Thus, you need to have ample space within the soil, so your cactus has the best chance of growth.

The potting mixture, which you may buy from a local plant shop, provides you with the diversity of cactus soil.

Cacti grow best in a drought-like environment with regular and interspersed periods of rainfall.

If you provide too much water to the cactus or if the soil doesn’t have good drainage, the roots will get rotten.

The roots allow the plant to receive water and nutrients, and any damage to the root directly hurts the growth of these plants.

Most cactus soils address all of these needs, which makes them so great.

How Can You Make Cactus Soil

You’ve heard about how great cactus soil is. However, is there a way that you can make your mixture? It depends on the kind of climate in which you live, but for the most part, the composition of a soil mix for cactus plants is pretty simple.

If you want to keep your cactus plants inside, then one part (three cups) of washed sand, one part (three cups) of regular soil, and a part (two cups) of grit is exactly the level of perfection you need in the soil.

You can use some small pebbles or sticks if that’s what you wish for.

If you have a bigger cactus plant, you can combine five parts of potting soil, two parts of pumice, and one part of coir.

You can choose this mixture because it dries out slowly and evenly. You may have to change the recipe depending on how your cactus or succulent would respond to it.

However, the most important thing to remember is to maintain a proper drainage method. A perfect cacti soil recipe achieves the best results.

Are there Differences Between Cactus Soil and Potting Mix?

Cactus soil and potting mixes will have some differences between the two.

We will look at some of the most major differences below.


If we look at normal potting mixtures, you’ll see that they have a rather large amount of peat moss and compost. Organic matter helps with the fertilization of most plants.

However, cactus plants don’t need as much fertile soil. Rather, they need a course soil that is dry and sandy, as they are the best adapted to this type of soil.

Thus cactus soil is likely to have greater inorganic matter than organic matter.

Moisture Retention

We’ve talked about the central role that water and moisture play in the growth of cactus plants. Thus, it makes sense that cactus soil will have different mechanisms regarding moisture retention.

Cactus soil does not retain moisture because it doesn’t have organic material. Organic material is generally porous and capable of absorbing moisture.

However, cactus soil has inorganic material. The water will drain right on, and it will help prevent root rot in a regular cactus pot.


Cacti have delicate roots. Cactus plants must have deep roots. The cactus needs to have proper air circulation to protect the deep and delicate roots.

The potting medium also needs proper aeration so that the roots can grow properly. Cactus soil is also less dense.

It means it will have a better degree of air circulation. This factor allows cactus roots to grow and thrive.


Cactus plants need to drain well and dry as quickly as possible. This is the only way they can fully support the growth of the cactus plant.

The cactus needs to drain quickly, but it needs to hold on to some moisture. The cactus plant does this all on its own.

However, any retention of water in the roots can lead to rot on the roots.

Regular potting mixes work best for regular plants which aren’t affected as adversely by the presence of water in their roots.

Nutrient Content

Regular potting soil is rich in nutrients. They generally have a great degree of additional fertilizers added to the mix. The cactus does not need these fertilizers.

What’s even worse is that they could cause the cactus to die. High potency fertilizers could cause the roots to dry up and burn out due to the extreme presence of chemicals.

Cacti are not used to nutrient-rich soils, which is why it’s best to keep them in potting mixes which are well-adapted for them.

What is the Best Soil For Cactus Plants?

Now that we understand we must know to keep cactus plants alive, we can look at what might be the best soil for cactus plants.

Cactus soil should be the perfect combination of organic and inorganic ingredients to create a mix that drains quickly and has low fertility.

The best soil for cactus plants would involve course ingredients. The course ingredients could be material that doesn’t absorb much moisture or retain it.

These components would be perlite, grit, and gravel. You could also use pebbles and sand, which help with the aeration of the soil.

Indoor cactus plants have different specifications than regular houseplants as they need something that drains quickly.

You will also find that it’s straightforward and cheap for you to make the perfect soil for cactus plants. It will also likely cost you a lot less than having to buy it from the local plant store.

You can also change it up whenever you want. It gives you more control over the best soil for your particular cactus plant.

As long as you know how to drain your soil, then your cactus will not require too much attention from you.

Picking and mixing the right kind of soil is significant as it sets up the entire future of how your plant care will turn out.

Additionally, knowing how to blend up different soils is also a different skill set.

It can home handy if you want to continue working with cacti or other different plants.

You also want to ensure that even though there’s not a lot of moisture in the cactus plant, there needs to be enough to be significant growth.

The best way to add water is to drench the soil and then leave it to dry. The ideal cactus soil should dry out in a day or two.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of your cactus plant is a careful feat. You have to consider all the factors that your cactus needs to grow.

While a healthy amount of sunshine is a given, you also need to ensure that the cactus has the best environment in terms of its soil and water.

The best cactus soil takes into account all the adaptations that the cactus has due to its desert conditions and mimics these conditions.

The best soil for a cactus plant allows for the perfect drainage. With proper drainage, the cactus roots can grow with ease; this, in turn, helps the cactus grow.

Since the most significant work that a plant can do for itself is growing, you want to create as many opportunities for this as possible.

Healthy roots, as a result, lead to a healthy plant. For proper drainage, the cactus soil should have a large amount of inorganic matter instead of organic matter.

You can make this on your own or buy it from any shop.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is eggshell good for succulents?

Eggshells are not good for succulents, because they are composed primarily of calcium carbonate which is too alkaline for succulent plants.

Is charcoal good for Cactus and Succulents?

Charcoal is toxic to cacti, succulents, and other plants. If you must handle a cactus or succulent that has been exposed to charcoal, be sure to wash your hands, arms, face, and any other exposed skin as soon as you can after contact with the charcoal.

Some say, Yes. Charcoal powder or charcoal water is used as a natural pesticide, to treat plants that are infested by insects or diseases.

Is Ash good for cactus?

When using cactus as a house plant, remember that they are succulents that require little water. They do well with a water soak and then let their soil dry out.