Is Charcoal Good For Succulents and Cactus?

Charcoal is widely used in horticultural, mostly potted plants, including succulents and cactus. This is a more durable material and can substitute for perlite and pumice to reduce soil wetness. This means charcoal can absorb the moisture and store them and release it when the soil dry. Therefore it is a suitable medium for growing plants. Due to that behavior, this material can absorb nutrients and release them whenever the plants required them.

Furthermore, charcoal can easily prevent fungus activities. Hence it is useful for preventing plant root rots and controls odor. Therefore this is an excellent natural herbal for succulent and cactus plants.

Many of the water purification methods utilize activated charcoal to absorption of unwanted chemicals like chlorine. Therefore this adsorber can use to remove toxic substances from the contaminated water. For many years, wood coal was used in ancient Egypt and Asian civilizations for medicine and purification.

charcoal for succulent

What is Charcoal?

Charcoal is lightweight carbon material made from burning organic carbon materials, mostly woods, coconut shells, at high temperatures with lower oxygen. It is also called activated carbon. When making charcoal, always use harder wood, then it is more durable than softwood. When burning the materials, it should not let them entirely burn them. Due to the lack of oxygen and high temperature, it makes very little smoke when making.

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Activated Charcoal lifetime?

Activated charcoal does not expire until it exposes to air or moisture. When the charcoal is stored in a sealed container like a ziplock bag, these materials can last over 100 years. Unlike other organic materials, charcoal does not decompose and can last for more than 1,000 decades if it does not mix with moisture. That is why we can see charcoal remaining in over 10,000 years old archaeological sites (source).

The benefit of Charcoal?

  • Charcoal can prevent plant root rot. It can work as an anti-fungi material.
  • Absorb excess moisture and release when needed.
  • Lightweight and make soli lose.
  • Improve soil aeration.
  • Use as a soil amendment.
  • A good alternative to perlite or pumice.


Charcoal vs Activated Charcoal?

There are mainly two types of charcoal. They are activated charcoal and charcoal. The main difference is its burning process. Activated charcoal is more durable and has a high level of water absorption capability than ordinary charcoal.

Difference between Activated Charcoal vs Charcoal.

There are several differences between general charcoal and activated charcoal.

Criteria Activated Charcoal General Charcoal
Durability Harder and durable Not durable than activated charcoal
Abortion moisture High levels absorb moisture. Lower levels absorb moisture.
Price Relatively high Relatively lower
Decompose Not decompose easily Decompose not easily
Hardness Harder to break into small pieces. After absorbing water, easy to break into small pieces.
Process Process in high temperature no oxygen Process lower oxygen with average temperature.
Health Benefit Can prevent root rot Can prevent root rot
Weight Lightweight Lightweight
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Can I use charcoal instead of activated charcoal?

You can use charcoal instead of activated charcoal—however, their effectiveness difference in various applications. Activated charcoal is more efficient than ordinary charcoal in terms of absorption. When using charcoal for moisture absorption, activated charcoal does its job well. Therefore better growth succulents need activated charcoal.

Is charcoal a good soil amendment?

Charcoal is a good soil amendment to improve soil carbon level, aeration, and moisture absorption. It can increase acidic soil fertility and protect plants’ root systems against the soil’s harmful fungs. Adding fine-grind charcoal can improve sandy soil water retention. However, if we compare pumice with charcoal, pumice performs way better. Because when the soil is getting dry, pumice does not release the stored water like perlite or charcoal.


Activated Charcoal vs Horticultural Charcoal.

Horticultural charcoal is also called as inactive charcoal. Since these two materials have similar appearances, there are few differences. Horticultural charcoal is made from lower temperatures than activated charcoal. Activated charcoal has more absorption capability than inactive charcoal because activated charcoal has more active carbon material.


Is horticultural charcoal good for succulents?

Horticultural charcoal is good for succulents. This charcoal can absorb excess moisture in the soil but is not efficient as activated charcoal. Moreover, it can use for improving soil aeration. Therefore activated charcoal can recommend for growing succulent, cactus plants.


Charocal portion for Succulents mix.

As a start, mix around 10% of activated charcoal or horticulture charcoal for your succulent soil mix. According to the climate conditions, increase this ratio up to 40%. When there is high humidity (wet), increase the portion ratio. That will reduce the soil moisture. When charcoal contacts the air and water, its lifetime reduces. Therefore annually change the potting mix.

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