10 Best Soils for Christmas Cactus in 2024 – Reviews & Top Picks
Christmas cactuses are a bit complicated to replant. Because they are cacti, they cannot deal with very much water. Therefore, they require very well-draining soil to fit their needs. Often, regular potting soil doesn’t fit the bill as it retains too much water. For this reason, you’ll need to purchase something special that is specifically designed for this plant.
While you can mix your own potting soil for a Christmas cactus, this often requires purchasing multiple mixes. Instead, it is often easier to purchase a pre-made mix.
However, you do need to ensure that it is a quality mixture. Not just any mixture will do, as too much moisture retention can be deadly. Below, we’ve reviewed 10 of the best soils for Christmas cacti, allowing you to select the perfect option for your plant.
A Look at Our Favorites (2024 Update)
|Soil Sunrise Christmas Cactus Potting Soil Mix
|Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, & Citrus Potting Mix
|Wonder Soil Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil
|Josh’s Frogs Holiday Christmas Cactus Soil
|Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix
The 10 Best Soils for Christmas Cactus
1. Soil Sunrise Christmas Cactus Potting Soil Mix – Best Overall
|Peat Moss, Potting Soil Mix, Bark
We particularly like the Soil Sunrise Christmas Cactus Potting Soil Mix because it isn’t very expensive, and it drains extremely well, which is exactly what you want for your cacti. This mixture is made specifically for this plant out of peat moss, potting soil, and bark. These are exactly the materials suggested by experts.
Plus, this mixture is hand-blended to perfection to ensure the correct composition. No additives or chemicals are used. It is recommended for both indoor and outdoor Christmas Cacti.
One bag is enough to fill three 6-inch pots, which should be plenty for most uses. It is also pH balanced and contains worm castings, which are very beneficial to these plants. While this mixture doesn’t retain water, it does retain nutrients to ensure your plant remains healthy.
Because of all these factors, this is easily the best overall soil for Christmas Cacti.
2. Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, & Citrus Potting Mix – Best Value
|Sand, Peat Moss, Perlite
If you’re looking to save a bit of money, you may want to consider the Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, & Citrus Potting Mix. This mixture contains some high-quality materials that work well with cacti of all sorts. It contains sand, peat moss, and perlite, which ensure proper drainage.
This formula does include added plant food, which may or may not help your cacti. If you’re already using fertilizer, beware of the added fertilizer in this mixture. You don’t want to overfeed your plant. However, if you’re looking for an all-around mixture that doesn’t require fertilizer (at the beginning, anyway), this mixture works well.
Plus, it is also extremely cheap. Compared to other potting mixes, you’re going to pay about a third of the price. Therefore, this is the best potting mix for Christmas Cacti for the money.
3. Wonder Soil Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil – Premium Choice
Mycorrhizae, Kelp, Gypsum, Magnesium, Rock Minerals, Humus, Organic Nutrients, Worm Castings
For those with plenty of money to spend, you may want to look at the Wonder Soil Organic Cactus & Succulent Soil. Compared to other formulas, this potting mixture contains tons of nutrients, including worm castings and organic minerals. Therefore, it often helps your cacti and succulents grow a bit better than others.
Plus, this formula is compressed. To use it, you do need to add water and wait for it to return to its normal size. However, this process helps save room. We recommend this formula specifically to users that have a lot of cacti and succulents to take care of. While you are paying more, you get a lot for your money.
This soil is designed to retain water to some extent while also providing adequate drainage. It encourages air pockets in the root zone, which can help keep your plants healthy. The company advertises that you may save up to 50% on water thanks to moisture retention.
4. Josh’s Frogs Holiday Christmas Cactus Soil
|Potting Soil, Orchid Bark, Coir, and Lava Rock
There are very few soil mixtures out there that are specifically designed for Christmas Cacti. However, Josh’s Frogs Holiday Christmas Cactus Soil is one of the few that fits into this category. This soil is extremely quick draining, which prevents root rot that this plant tends to be prone to. It is made from regular potting soil, as well as bark and rock. These larger pieces allow for drainage, though the bark will break down over time to provide more nutrients.
The larger pieces also help ensure proper aeration inside the cactus roots. This helps prevent bacteria growth and similar issues with moisture.
However, this brand is a bit expensive. You’re paying quite a bit for a smaller bag when compared to other brands. Therefore, we only recommend this bag if you only have one Christmas Cactus and no other succulents in need of soil.
5. Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix
|Peat Moss, Forest Products, Fertilizer
Miracle-Gro is a popular brand that offers something for just about every plant, including Christmas Cacti. The Miracle-Gro Succulent Potting Mix features peat moss and a variety of larger, forest products that help with drainage. This mixture is specifically made for succulents, which would include your cactus.
This formula is certified by the Mulch & Soil Council to ensure that it meets industry standards. Therefore, you can rest assured that it is suitable for your plant, though that doesn’t necessarily mean that it is the best quality.
This bag includes four quarts, which is enough for an 8-inch container. Therefore, this formula works well for a single larger plant or multiple bags.
This formula does include fertilizer in it. However, this only works for 30 days. After that, you’ll need to begin using a replacement fertilizer.
6. Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix
|Canadian Peat Moss, Reed Sedge Peat, Perlite, Sand, Limestone
Compared to other potting mixes on this list, the Hoffman 10404 Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix is extremely similar. It includes peat moss, perlite, sand, and limestone. All these materials help the soil drain a bit better. Therefore, it is designed specifically for cacti and succulents. It works best for those that have multiple succulents and cacti to take care of.
This soil is pH balanced, which prevents it from damaging the succulent. Furthermore, it does include nutrients. However, you’ll need to use fertilizer as well, as the nutrients will not last forever.
With that said, this formula was not specifically made for Christmas Cacti. Therefore, it doesn’t necessarily include all the things we’d like to see. General formulas are great if you have many cacti. However, they aren’t so great when you’re looking to take care of a specific plant.
7. The Valley Garden Organic Potting Soil
|Perlite, Potting Soil
The Valley Garden Organic Potting Soil is imported from Canada. It includes only natural ingredients, though much of the mix is potting soil. For this reason, it may not promote as much draining or aeration as other formulas. It isn’t designed specifically for Christmas Cacti, so it may not provide enough drainage for these plants in particular.
With that said, this formula is designed to reduce stagnant water, which can cause root rot. Plus, we do like that this formula is extremely lightweight. Therefore, this formula doesn’t sit quite as heavily on the plant, making it a good option for plant roots.
Furthermore, this formula features a 90-day guarantee. Therefore, if you don’t like it, you can get your money back.
8. Sun Gro Horticulture Cactus Mix
|Volcanic Pumice, Perlite, Sand, Forest Humus
Generally, the Sun Gro Horticulture Cactus Mix is designed specifically for cacti and other succulents. It features plenty of pumice and perlite, which help improve the drainage qualities of the soil. Furthermore, it also includes a lot of forest humus, providing nutrients and aeration to your plants. Generally, this formula is designed to be just enough for your plant—not too rich, which can often lead to your plant dying.
This formula is designed specifically for cacti, but not necessarily for Christmas Cacti. Therefore, while it may be good for your plant, it is a generalized formula. It may not be as suitable as other options out there, which is why it is lower on our list.
Furthermore, this formula doesn’t include any additives so it tends to be organic and gentler on plants.
9. TinyRoots Succulent Soil
|Pine Bark, Coarse Sand, Calonne Clay
Overall, TinyRoots Succulent Soil is extremely high-quality. However, it is also very expensive for the small amount it is. If you have smaller plants, this is less of a problem. With that said, for those with smaller pots and many plants, this succulent soil likely isn’t very practical.
With that said, this potting mix does include materials that are often recommended for Christmas Cacti. For instance, pine bark and coarse sand are both included, providing plenty of drainage and aeration. No additives are included, such as fertilizers. This may be a boon or a downside, depending on your preferences.
Furthermore, this potting mixture is specifically designed for succulents. While Christmas Cacti are succulents, this mix is a bit more generalized than other options out there.
10. Espoma Organic Cactus Potting Soil Mix
|Peat Moss, Humus, Perlite
As the name suggests, Espoma Organic Cactus Potting Soil Mix is designed mostly for cacti. It includes many materials that provide plenty of drainage, which is necessary for Christmas Cacti and most succulents. This formula includes substances that are typically recommended for Christmas Cacti, such as perlite and peat moss.
For this reason, this soil is likely a good option for most Christmas Cacti. It includes no synthetic ingredients or additives. If you use your own fertilizer, this is likely quite helpful.
With that said, this formula does have very good water retention. Added water retention is not recommended for most cacti, including the Christmas Cactus, as they are used to drier weather. Furthermore, it is a bit pricy for the amount that you get. If you only have a few different plants, then you may be able to use this soil. However, for a large collection, this soil is likely a bit too expensive.
Buyer’s Guide: Choosing the Best Soil for Christmas Cactus
Taking care of plants can be complex, especially since they all have their own likes and dislikes. What works for one plant won’t always work for another. Therefore, to care for your Christmas Cactus, we recommend learning about what soil these plants prefer.
Often, you cannot simply use your average potting mix, as it retains far too much water.
In this section, we’ll take a look at some commonly asked questions and the soil that this plant typically thrives.
Christmas Cacti Soil Needs
A Christmas Cactus needs to be planted in soil that meets a few different requirements. This succulent is quite picky about its soil. Technically, this cactus is an epiphyte, which means that it gets most of its moisture from the air. Therefore, it requires very little water in its soil. In fact, too much water will quickly kill it.
In nature, these cacti would grow near the trunk of a tree. As the tree’s leaves fell, the cacti would stick their roots into them, which allows them to get extra nutrients. It doesn’t harm the tree, but it typically requires a tree nearby to live. Obviously, in our homes, this isn’t usually possible.
However, the cactus is still expected to be growing in a bed of leaves. As you’d imagine, leaves are extremely poor soil and don’t retain water. Therefore, this plant has evolved to skip getting water from the soil and absorb it through its trunk instead.
In domestication, this cactus needs a very well-draining soil that mimics these leaves. While any extremely well-draining soil will work, there are a few materials that are particularly recommended.
Recommended Materials for Christmas Cacti Soil
There are a few different materials that are typically recommended for Christmas Cacti. As you’d guess, most of these materials do not retain water. Therefore, they work great for this plant.
Much of the soil should be regular potting soil. This works as a base and provides nutrients. Plus, it gives the cactus something to hold onto, as it would typically fall over if simply placed in a pot of leaves. Of course, high-quality soil is recommended.
With that said, about 40% of the soil needs to be made of perlite. This material provides adequate drainage and doesn’t break down. Unlike bark and organic materials, perlite will stay in the soil for years. In the end, this means you won’t need to replant your cactus nearly as often.
These two materials can make a very basic soil for your Christmas Cactus. In some cases, cheaper soils for this plant only include these two materials. However, there are some other materials that are recommended, though not necessarily required.
Compost is sometimes recommended. Often, this ingredient is extremely nutrient-dense and often eliminates the need for fertilizer—at least at first. It can take the role of some of the soil in the mixture.
Large pieces of bark and similar organic matter are often included. While these do provide extra drainage, they don’t work as well as other materials, like perlite. Therefore, while they can be added, they cannot replace perlite or a similar material. Plus, there is always the chance that they will break down over time.
Peat is often used. This soil material is very common in potting soils. Usually, it is used instead of average dirt, as it is better at retaining water and contains high levels of nutrients. Plus, it simply looks nicer than your average dirt. You’ll have a hard time finding a commercial mixture that doesn’t include peat.
Repotting a Christmas Cactus
This cactus likes to be slightly root bound, as they are made to grow in enclosed spaces. Therefore, you shouldn’t replant it all that often. Wait at least 3 years before upgrading its pot and ensure that the pot allows for only a little root growth. Generally, this plant thrives best when its roots are kept in a smaller ball.
We recommend replanting when the flowers have died, which is usually in the late winter.
When replanting, always use a pot with drainage holes. The last thing you want is to put a Christmas Cactus in a pot without proper drainage, as this will lead to root rot. Often, the more drainage, the better. These plants do not like sitting water at all.
Take your time when replanting, as you don’t want to damage the plant. Carefully remove it from the pot and gently loosen the roots. Because they tend to grow compact, rinse them to remove excess dirt from the middle of the root ball.
Do not pull or tug on the roots. Don’t support the plant by the stem, as this can cause the stem to break. Instead, it is best to hold from underneath the root ball.
Place the cactus in the new pot with its root ball about an inch below the rim. Then, refill the pot with soil and pat it lightly to remove air pockets. Water the cactus to help the soil settle in. It is best to place the cactus in the shade for a few days to prevent excessive stress after replanting. However, you can then resume your usual care routine.
Can I Use Orchid Soil for Christmas Cacti?
No, this soil is not suitable by itself for a Christmas Cactus. Instead, we recommend mixing your own soil from regular potting soil, perlite, and other materials or purchasing a commercial option. There are many quality commercial options out there. If you only have one plant, this is likely your best option.
Mixing your own soil can be done. However, it means purchasing bags of many materials. If you only have one or two plants, you’ll end up with far more soil than you need.
There are many commercial Christmas Cacti formulas out there. Our favorite is the Soil Sunrise Christmas Cactus Potting Soil Mix. As the name suggests, this formula is specifically designed for Christmas Cacti. It includes many recommended materials and provides excellent drainage.
We liked the Miracle-Gro Cactus, Palm, & Citrus Potting Mix as well, especially if you’re looking for a money-saving option. This formula is much cheaper than others and designed for cacti and other succulents.
We hope that you were able to find a proper mix for your Christmas Cacti. While these plants have some unusual potting needs, their splash of winter color makes them more than worth it.
Featured Image Credit: chakoteh, Pixabay