There are many benefits to making your own cactus soil mix. Homemade cacti potting mix can save your money and time. The most significant thing is, you have the freedom to control its ingredients to improve the drainage. Based on your climate conditions, you can adjust the ingredients level to make your cactus happy.
There are good commercial potting mixes on the market. Though most of them are expensive, some may not be the best option for potted cacti plants.
These plants have the unique ability to store water on the stem, pads. Accordingly, the cactus has a thick and fleshy stem. Hence, these plants are adaptable to grow in hot and dry conditions for a longer period. In addition, cactus plants are excellent drought-tolerant plants.
What Type Of Soil Is Best For Cactus?
One of the most important things you need to remember is planting arid plants in a completely different environment; you must provide its native growing conditions without limiting.
Cactus plants natively grow in semi-desert or desert climates. There is very little water in such an area, and the soil is more sandy, rocky, non-compact, and fewer nutrients. Too much water may cause the cactus root rot, while too little water stunted cactus growth.
The best cactus soil mix should be lightweight and fast-draining, well breathable. The Waterlogging soil threat to plant life.
The type of ingredient you use to make cactus substrate determines how much water remains in the soil. The best cactus soil should consist 60% of inorganic matter and 40% or lower organic matter to make it more porous and well drain.
While the cacti soil blended ingredients particles getting larger, it provides fast-draining. The optimized particle size is 1/4 inch (6mm) or similar. Hence ordinary gardening soil mixes not suitable for this. On the other hand, regular garden soil mixes contain a high level of moisture-retaining materials, and it is more compact.
What is the ideal ph level for cactus soil?
Cactus plants thrive well in pH levels between 5 to 6.5pH. Most of the cacti plants grow best in these pH ranges. However, different types of cactus have their own pH level, but they can tolerate in the pH range of 5 to 6.5pH.
Over time, adding water and fertilizer to the cactus soil mixture changes its pH level. This change can be noticeable if you have high pH (Alkaline) water in your area. Fertilizer also more acidic and adding fertilizer increases the acidic level of the potting mixture.
When the potting mix pH is 8 or higher, the growth of the cactus is retardant. This is because the absorption of essential nutrients by the plant is impaired.
Cactus Soil Recipe – Ingredients.
Cactus soil mix ingredients can be categorized into mainly two categories. That is, organic ingredients and inorganic ingredients. The best combination is 60% or higher inorganic components and 40% of organic components.
In-organic matters play a significant role in this recipe. These materials can control the cactus potting mix drainage, aeration, and looseness. In-organic materials do not provide nutrients to the plant. Therefore you have to use few organic matters to ensure the plant’s sustainable growth. However, such organic ingredients hold moisture for a longer time. Hence, excessive usage of these high moisture content retains matters can lead to cactus root rots and stem rots.
Inorganic components improve the cactus soil mix drainage, aeration, and looseness. These materials do not break down quickly like other organic matters. The porous substrate hep to develop a robust root system. Use 60% or higher inorganic materials is recommended. These are various types of inorganic components,
- Gritty mix.
- Coarse Sand.
- Lava rock.
- Activated Charcoal.
- Rock chips.
Organic components provide nutrients to the cacti plant. Though there is a risk of using these materials, they are heavy moisture retain. So you have to be more careful when adding organic matter to your homemade cacti potting mix. The ideal organic ingredients amount should not more than 40% for your cacti potting mixture. Here are various types of organic components that you can use.
- Peat moss.
- Garden Soil.
- Pine Bark
- Coconut Coir.
- Worm castings.
Soil texture is the composition of sand, silt, and clay particles. According to these particles portion, soil mix becomes more light or heavy. Cactus does not like to sit on heavy compact soil. Loose soil contains more sands, and heavy soil has a high amount of clay.
When the soil getting loosey, it is well-aerated and drys out rapidly. That type of substrate suitable for these types of arid climate plants. When the soil is getting more nutrients, its roots become larger, like a yam. That is not a sign of a happy cactus.
How to make a DIY Cactus soil recipe.
Different types of cactus require diverse types of soil to thrive. Though the majority of the cactus grows well in the well drain proper aerated soil medium.
Outdoor cactus soil mix recipe.
The following cactus potting soil provides balance moisture nutrients and good aeration to your plant. However, outdoor cacti require a little bit of moisture-retaining ingredients. Therefore it uses ready-made cacti potting soil. If you cannot easily find this specialized potting mix, you can use an all-purpose potting mix, but it is advised to use 40% or lower. However, I do not recommend using all-purpose potting soil.
- 40% of Potting soil.
- 40% of coarse sand/ turface/ gravel. The optimal particle size is 1/4 to 1/8 inch (6mm – 3mm).
- 20% of perlite/pumice or activated charcoal.
Indoor cactus soil mix recipe.
Unlike outdoor cactus, indoor plants need to use less moisture-retaining materials. There is no universal recipe. As the indoor humidity is high, the material that retains less moisture in the soil mixture should be used for the cactus substrate.
- 40% of Pine Bark – The ideal size is 1/4 to 1/8 inch (6mm – 3mm) – 4 parts.
- 40% of Coarse sand, Gritty mix, Turface, Granite sand – 4parts.
- 20% of Perlite/pumice – 2 parts.
Best cactus propagation soil mix.
Since cactus seeds are so tiny, they need a smaller particles size soil mix. The recommended cactus propagation soil is the below recipe.
- 50% of commercial cactus potting mix – (5 parts).
- 30% of perlite/pumice – (3 parts).
- 20% of coarse sands, gritty mix, turface – (2 parts).
Once you lay on these seeds on cactus propagation soil, make sure that they are not wash way. Therefore always spray water. Also do not use bonsai gritty mix which has 1/4 inch for propagate cactus seeds.
Tools that need to make DIY cactus soil mix.
We need to arrange several types of equipment. If you like to make your hands dirty, you do not want them.
- Gardening gloves.
- Measuring cup.
- A trowel or small shovel
- A Bucket or a bin to mix the soil ingredients.
Mixing your cactus soil.
After collecting all the relevant ingredients, you can start mixing DIY cactus potting mix.
Put all the ingredients into the bucket carefully. Some of the ingredients can make dust. Therefore use proper protection.
You can spray a little bit of water to prevent dust. Using a trowel, mix everything well.
If you live in an arid climate, you can add 10% of cocopeat or compost to maintain the moisture level. This will reduce the regular cacti watering. But do not use more than 10%. If you used an all-purpose potting mix that contains peat moss, you should not use cocopeat.
How to adjust cacti soil in different climates.
Depending on the climate conditions, watering requirements different. For example, in a very arid climate, you have to keep enough moisture, but it requires very little moisture in very colder weather.
Therefore, different climates have to adjust the cacti potting soil ingredients to make the plant happy.
Very arid climate: If you live in an environment close to tropical or there is no colder winter, it is better to add a few moistures to retain materials. Cocopeat is a suitable moisture controller. Cocopeat should not exceed 15% of the mixture.
Colder climate: It is better to use a more gritty mix/coarse sands and perlite/pumice in cooler climates. It will enhance the drainage and make the soil dry quickly.
Does soil particle size affect cacti growth?
There is a positive relationship between soil particle size and cactus plant growth. The best soil particle size for cactus to thrive is 1/4 inch (6mm) or similar size but not more than the 1⁄2 mm – 1 mm. When the potting mix particles size getting smaller, it reduces the water drainage, makes the soil compact, and can suffocate the roots. That is why experts do not recommend fine sand for cactus. Fine sands have 0.125 to 0.25 mm particle size.
How to adjust Cactus soil pH level.
Cactus thrive in slightly acidic soil, which falls pH level between 5 to 6.5pH. You can use soil amendments to adjust the potting mix pH level. The best cacti soil amendments are organic compost, peat moss. Again, though, do not apply more than 10% of these materials. It can make your potting mix waterlogging.
Can I use regular potting soil for cactus?
I do not recommend using all-purpose regular potting soil for cactus. Since the regular potting mix is specifically designed for the general houseplants. Cactus is an arid climate plant. It requires very little moisture to thrive. The regular potting mix contains a high amount of moisture, retains material like peat moss, and is more compact.
If you cannot find specifically designed cactus soil, you can use regular potting soil. However, that amount should not exceed more than 40% of potting mix. Add more perlite/pumice and Coarse sand/Gritty mix/Turface/Granite sand to make it quickly dry and loose.