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10 Best Soils for Cacti in 2023 – Reviews & Top Picks

cactus in a pot

cactus in a pot

Cacti are the quintessential plant of desert-like ecosystems. It is one of the most diverse families because of the range of sizes and forms. While they have an exotic-looking appearance, the majority of species are native to the North and South American continents. Only one genus lives in the Old World. Most live in arid environments, although some live in humid places, too.

Most cacti species are succulents. They are plants that can survive harsh, dry conditions by storing water in their fleshy leaves and stems. Drought isn’t uncommon in the habitats of many cacti. This trait makes them popular houseplants, with many thinking that means easy care. While it’s true to some degree, your soil choice is vital for your success in raising them. Our guide and detailed reviews will help you choose the best one for your cacti.

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A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites of 2023

Rating Image Product Details
Best Overall
Winner
Espoma Cactus Potting Mix Espoma Cactus Potting Mix
  • Enhanced root growth
  • Environmentally friendly production
  • Family-owned business
  • Best Value
    Second place
    Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix
  • 30-day plant food supply in the mix
  • Affordably priced
  • Mulch & Soil Council certification
  • Premium Choice
    Third place
    Fat Plants Cacti & Succulent Potting Mix Fat Plants Cacti & Succulent Potting Mix
  • 8-month food supply in the mix
  • Excellent mixture
  • Top-notch customer service
  • Wonder Soil Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil Wonder Soil Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil
  • Excellent value for the price
  • Lightweight
  • Expanding capacity
  • Tinyroots Succulent Soil Tinyroots Succulent Soil
  • Attractive texture
  • Excellent drainage
  • The 10 Best Soils for Cacti

    1. Espoma Cactus Potting Mix – Best Overall

    Espoma Cactus Potting Mix

    Plant type: Cactus, palm, citrus
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Earthworm castings, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, feather meal
    Volume: 8 quarts

    Espoma Cactus Potting Mix is a product with a mission that embraces sustainability and minimal environmental impacts. The soil provides an excellent medium for your plants. It includes a nutritious blend of natural additives that boosts its value for your plants. It is also enhanced with mycorrhizae. These beneficial fungi help plants fix nitrogen to make it available to your cacti. It is our pick for the best overall soil for cacti.

    The company’s mission is another significant selling point for us. We like its focus on sustainability and minimal impact. It’s also a family-owned business going back to 1929. It produces a line of species-specific blends. The particle size is decent, allowing for optimal drainage and aeration. The product comes in two 4-quart bags.

    Pros
    • Enhanced root growth
    • Environmentally friendly production
    • Family-owned business
    • Safe to use
    Cons
    • Spendy

    2. Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix – Best Value

    Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix

    Plant Type: Succulent
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Sphagnum moss and processed forest products
    Volume: 4 quarts

    Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix is an excellent product that takes plant care beyond the first day in the container. The blend includes enough food for 30 days to get your cacti through transplant shock. The Mulch & Soil Council rated it a premium product. It’s one of many reasons that we picked it as our best soil for cacti for the money.

    The company has a long history of helping people grow plants, going back to 1868. We must give it props for its transparency. Their website contains everything you need to know about their products, including this succulent mix. The only issue we saw was occasional mold. Careful watering and the use of porous containers can prevent it from occurring.

    Pros
    • 30-day plant food supply in the mix
    • Affordably priced
    • Mulch & Soil Council certification
    • Pleasant texture
    Cons
    • Container use only
    • Occasional mold growth

    3. Fat Plants San Diego Premium Cacti and Succulent Potting Mix – Premium Choice

    Fat Plants San Diego Premium Cacti and Succulent Potting Mix Soil

    Plant type: Cacti and succulents
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Coco fiber, perlite, worm castings
    Volume: ½–8 gallons

    Fat Plants San Diego Premium Cacti and Succulent Potting Mix isn’t cheap but lives up to its designation as a premium offering. It uses Coco Coir in its blend, which provides excellent water retention. It also acts as an effective deterrent for insect pests. However, this material doesn’t add any nutrients. That makes the addition of the 8-month food supply valuable.

    The texture is relatively fine, which isn’t surprising given its use in hydroponic growing. You might consider adding some perlite if drainage is an issue. Overall, it’s an excellent product that delivers great results.

    Pros
    • 8-month food supply in the mix
    • Excellent mixture
    • Top-notch customer service
    • Great choice for hydroponic growing
    Cons
    • Pricey

    4. Wonder Soil Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil

    WONDER SOIL Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil

    Plant type: Cacti and succulents
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Worm castings, kelp, mycorrhizae
    Volume: 12 quarts

    Wonder Soil Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil is likely to surprise you the first time you use it. We have to admit that we were skeptical about the directions to use only 1¼ cups for a 1-gallon pot. It does exactly what it claims to do. It also makes it an excellent value. One bag will provide 12 quarts of soil. Coco Coir is one of the main ingredients in this nutrient-packed product, with beneficial mycorrhizae included in the blend.

    Both drainage and water retention are decent, although there were occasional mold issues. It is also biodegradable and couldn’t be easier to use.

    Pros
    • Excellent value for the price
    • Lightweight
    • Expanding capacity
    Cons
    • Occasional mold issues

    5. Tinyroots Succulent Soil

    Tinyroots Succulent Soil

    Plant type: Cacti and succulents
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Sifted pine bark
    Volume: 2¼ quarts

    The main benefit of Tinyroots Succulent Soil is that it helps prevent overwatering because of its unique blend of pine, clay, and river sand. We even thought the mix looked attractive out of the bag. It would make an excellent choice for a terrarium to pretty it up with a natural-looking substrate. The composition is mainly inorganic with pine bark supplying the organic components, which means having to amend the soil.

    The company states that each bag is hand mixed and bagged. That accounts for the slight variations in the color and texture. Unfortunately, it only comes in one size that won’t go very far if you have a lot of houseplants.

    Pros
    • Attractive texture
    • Excellent drainage
    Cons
    • Only one size
    • No soil amendments

    6. Perfect Plants Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix

    All Natural Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix by Perfect Plants

    Plant type: Succulents and cacti
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Peat moss, Garden Coir, pine bark
    Volume: 4 or 8 quarts

    Perfect Plants Succulent and Cactus Soil Mix is a blend suitable for a wide range of plants. Its composition supports decent drainage and aeration. However, it won’t hurt to add some pumice or perlite to improve these traits, especially if the soil isn’t drying out between waterings. The product looks nice and adds a welcome decorative element for something so basic to having houseplants.

    The product is lightweight, making it easy to use. Its best use is as an all-purpose blend for these kinds of plants. You may need to make adjustments depending on the species. In most cases, it’ll do the job, and it comes in two sizes.

    Pros
    • Lightweight
    • Diverse blend of ingredients
    • Versatile
    Cons
    • Necessary aggregate addition in some cases

    7. Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

    Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

    Plant type: Succulents and cacti
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Sphagnum moss, peat
    Volume: 10 and 18 quarts

    Hoffman 10410 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is another versatile offering that is suitable for a variety of plants.  The balance makes it stand out from the crowd. It has the necessary organic base with sand and perlite to improve drainage. After all, that’s one of the most essential factors when growing these species. It succeeds on both those scores.

    However, you may find it beneficial to add some perlite if your area is especially humid. You might have some issues with mold because of the moss and peat content. It comes in two sizes, with the larger one being the better value.

    Pros
    • Excellent balance of organic and inorganic ingredients
    • Decent drainage and aeration
    Cons
    • Better value in the larger size
    • Some extra perlite is necessary for some plants

    8. The Succulent Cult Potting Soil

    3 Dry Quart Organic Potting Soil

    Plant type: Succulents and cacti
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Sphagnum moss
    Volume: 3 and 6 quarts

    The Succulent Cult Potting Soil differs from many products on our round-up with only two ingredients, sphagnum moss and perlite. The latter includes some limestone to balance the pH in the optimal zone. The blend works for most plants. However, you might need some extra perlite if mold becomes a problem. Overall, it’s a high-quality and versatile product.

    The soil is easy to work with. It’s incredibly lightweight yet highly absorbent. It has a delightful, fresh scent that makes you feel as if the bag was filled the day before you received it.

    Pros
    • Only two ingredients
    • Decent drainage
    • Lightweight
    Cons
    • Added perlite needed in some cases

    9. Harris Premium Succulent and Cactus Potting Soil

    Harris Premium Succulent and Cactus Potting Soil Mix

    Plant type: Succulents and cacti
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: Forest humus, compost, sphagnum moss, fish bone meal
    Volume: 4 quarts

    Harris Premium Succulent and Cactus Potting Soil offers a nutrient boost with limestone and fish bone meal. It’s an excellent blend that will help your plants recover from transplant shock if you’re repotting existing ones. The organic ingredients give it an earthy smell that makes us feel as if we are walking in the woods. It’s a versatile product, particularly with its nutrient addition.

    The mix strikes an excellent balance between the particle sizes of the ingredients. That makes it fast draining and encourages healthy airflow.

    Pros
    • Lightweight
    • Excellent blend
    • Nutritious mix
    • USA-made
    Cons
    • Occasional quality control issues

    10. Valley Garden Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

    Organic Potting Soil

    Plant type: Succulents and cacti
    Drainage: Fast draining
    Organic materials: 75% natural substrate
    Volume: 2 quarts

    Valley Garden Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is a 75-25 blend of organic and inorganic ingredients. The mix is a good balance between fine and large materials. Drainage and aeration are excellent. It retains just enough moisture for adequate watering without leaving your plants standing in water. Unfortunately, the label doesn’t elaborate on what’s in it.

    The manufacturer does something almost unheard of for these products. It offers a money-back guarantee. That fact alone makes it worth a try. It’s a versatile mix that will work well with a variety of succulents.

    Pros
    • Excellent drainage and aeration
    • Good balance of ingredients
    • 90-day money-back guarantee
    Cons
    • One size only

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    Buyer’s Guide: Selecting The Best Soil for Cacti

    Choosing soil for container plants differs from getting topsoil. Your choice will have a significant impact on your cacti’s survival. Soil is a medium with inorganic and organic components. Its color isn’t always an indication of its composition, especially when dealing with the mixes included in our list. It’s helpful to understand how conditions vary in these environments to help you make the best choice for your potted plants.

    Desert Soils

    Let’s start with the characteristics of soils from deserts. They often contain a high concentration of minerals and salts due to the low precipitation in these areas. These are relatively large chemical compounds that will affect the soil’s texture. It can also cause them to form hardpans due to the accumulation of silica, calcium carbonate, and other materials. That will come into play later if you have hard water.

    One of the most common soil types in these arid environments is aridisols. Aridisols influence the evolution of cacti in several ways. The development of the hardpans or caliche layer can impede water absorption. It can also make it difficult for plants like cacti to set down roots. Consequently, they are typically shallow-rooted, with few species growing a taproot. When it rains, the plants have scant time to absorb as much water as possible.

    Life as a Cactus

    Water is a precious but limited resource for all life forms. Cacti have evolved unique strategies for coping with these challenges, beginning with energy production or photosynthesis. Plants have tiny openings on the undersides of their leaves where moisture and gas exchange take place. Photosynthesis involves the uptake of carbon dioxide while releasing water in the process, making desert plants susceptible to dehydration.

    These species evolved over time to get rid of their leaves and replace them with needles. That slowed water loss and provided protection against animals. Cacti have also adapted by shifting photosynthesis to their stems, with the stomata opening at night instead. Consequently, many cacti are slow growing. The limited water supply and high temperatures cause photosynthesis to decrease.

    We suggest you research the natural history and care instructions of any cacti you have or are considering buying. It’s essential to match the soil with the conditions in which the plants typically grow. These factors are equally important for cacti that you keep as houseplants.

    Things to look for in a cactus potting soil include:
    • Plant type
    • Drainage
    • Composition
    • Organic materials
    • Size and weight

    Plant Type

    This trait covers a few things. Products formulated for cacti will specify it on the label to distinguish them from regular potting soils. As we’ve discussed, these plants have different needs that the medium will reflect. Some labels may also specify whether you can use it for indoor and outdoor plants. Succulents often have similar nutrient needs, so you may see this term, too.

    watering can and a cactus in a pot
    Image Credit: Barthelemy Rigaud, Unsplash

    Drainage

    Drainage is a significant factor in cactus soils. Much of this property rests with the texture. It, in turn, is an element of the parent material from which the soils come. Soil scientists classify earth based on its particle size, going from gravel to sand to silt to clay. The best cactus soils have a sand-like texture that ensures proper drainage. That’s imperative for preventing root rot. These plants won’t thrive in wet soils.

    The texture of these products may feel coarser than the soil in your backyard. The larger the size of the particles, the freer and faster the movement of water. Manufacturers usually use a blend of materials to ensure well-draining soils.

    Organic Materials

    Arid soils typically aren’t rich in organic materials. The chemical composition and low precipitation may inhibit some compounds. Of course, there is also the caliche layer. Cactus soils differ from potting soils because they’ll have less organic matter, such as peat moss. That adds to its density and affects other properties like drainage and moisture retention.

    Sizes and Weight

    Many products come in a range of sizes. It’s an essential factor to keep in mind because these soils won’t pack down like gardening types. They may include materials like pumice and hummus, which will make them feel much lighter. Of course, a balance between drainage and water retention is critical to the item’s value. You’ll likely find that the soils will expand noticeably after they are fully saturated.

    Repotting is a necessary task with cacti. Commercial soils create similar conditions, causing a build-up of minerals and salts, especially if you have hard water. You may find that you have to transplant cacti more often than other houseplants.

    •You might also like: Can Miracle-Gro Burn Plants? What You Need To Know

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    Conclusion

    After going through our reviews, Espoma Cactus Potting Mix took the top spot as the best overall product. It provides what these plants need in the correct proportions. Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix has a long company history behind it. We liked the nutrient addition that makes repotting cacti less traumatic. It is also one of the hallmarks of this reputable brand.


    Featured Image Credit: Barthelemy Rigaud, Unsplash

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