What I Know About Cactus Fertilizers

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Cacti are known for thriving in challenging places, but even they can use a little help now and then. Just like other plants, they can benefit from some extra nutrients. That’s where cactus fertilizer comes in. Today, we’ll explore the basics of cactus fertilizer: a cactus needs fertilizer or not, when to use it, and how to pick the right one. Whether your cactus is in your backyard or your living room, let’s help it grow its best!

I often get asked: Does a cactus need fertilizer?

Yes, cacti can benefit from fertilizer. However, it’s optional, especially if they are planted in nutrient-rich soil. Using fertilizer can enhance their growth and blooms, but it’s essential to ensure it’s not overdone. Regular but not excessive fertilization can promote healthier growth, brighter blooms, and a more vibrant appearance.

What Makes Cactus Fertilizer?

So, you’re wondering what’s in that cactus fertilizer? It’s a basic mix of (N)itrogen – (P)hosphorus – Potassium (K). Cactus fertilizer typically has a bit more phosphorus, which helps the plant grow strong roots and beautiful flowers. However, there are a few more variations that you can commonly find on the market:

  1. Easy on the Nitrogen: Unlike some plants that love nitrogen and grow super-fast with it, cacti like to take things slow. Too much nitrogen, and they might get soft and leggy, which isn’t good.
  2. The Extras: There are tiny amounts of other nutrients like calcium and magnesium. Think of these as the vitamins for the plant.
  3. Not Too Salty: Too much salt isn’t good for cacti. So, these fertilizers are made to be low-salt.

Remember, if you’re getting fertilizer for your cactus, check if it’s meant for cacti or succulents to ensure they’re getting the proper nutrients. Each of the above variation will be suitable for some particular species. Let’s talk about ratio in the next section.

When Do Your Cactus Plants Need It? The Ratio?

Cacti need some extra nutrients primarily during their growth spurt in the warmer months, which are spring and summer. In this period, feeding them helps boost their health and vigor. Come winter, they tend to hibernate or go dormant. It’s best to avoid fertilizing during these chilly months as they aren’t actively growing and don’t need the additional feed.

When you’re shopping for cactus fertilizer, you’ll notice numbers on the package like “2-7-7” for the ratio of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K). For cacti, a blend with a bit more phosphorus, like “1-7-6” or “2-7-7”, is perfect. This phosphorus boost helps your cactus develop sturdy roots and vibrant blooms. 

Just remember: I know I’ve said this a couple of times but you should follow the instructions on the label and avoid over-fertilizing to keep your plant in tip-top shape.

Best Store-bought Fertilizers For Cacti

#1. How to pick

I want you to pay a close attention to a few details when picking the right store-bought fertilizer for your cacti:

  • Look for “Cactus” on the Label: Grab one that specifically mentions it’s for cacti or succulents. This means it’s made just for them.
  • Check the Numbers: Three numbers like “2-7-7” are the perfect ratio, like I mentioned above. You may want the middle number to be a bit higher as cacti will love more (P)hosphorus.
  • Liquid or Granules?: Some fertilizers are liquid, and some look like tiny pebbles (granules). Liquids are easy to use and act fast; granules release food slowly. Pick what sounds easiest for you.
  • Avoid Too Much ‘Green Power’ (Nitrogen): If the first number of the three is too high, it’s a no-go. Your cactus doesn’t want too much of Nitrogen, which can make them grow weirdly.

If you’re unsure, ask someone in the store. They usually know a thing or two and can point you to a good choice.

#2. Products

You can find cactus fertilizers at any local plant nursery or store. These are the store-bought choices I find on Amazon (that everyone can order easily). One is the bestseller on Amazon and one is just perfect with the 2-7-7 ratio:

Schultz Cactus Plus 2-7-7 liquid Plant Food, 4-Ounce
  • Feeds through the roots
  • For All Cacti and other Succulents
  • Just 7 drops of water every time you water

Last update on 2024-03-03 / Amazon

The Grow Co Succulents & Cactus Plant Food – Gentle Long Lasting…
  • LIGHT APPLICATIONS – A balanced mix of essential…
  • LASTS LONGER, FOR LESS – Easy, ready to use…
  • LIQUID ALTERNATIVE – Excellent alternative to…
  • INDOOR AND OUTDOOR USE – Conveniently packaged and…
  • PERFECT FOR ALL TYPES – Expertly formulated to be…

Last update on 2024-03-04 / Amazon

How To Make The Perfect Homemade Fertilizer For Cactus

What if you don’t want a store-bought fertilizer? Making a homemade fertilizer for cacti can be fun and cost-effective. I made my own cactus fertilizer all the time. Here’s a simple recipe with easily-found-at-home ingredients:

Prepare these:

  1. Eggshells: They are a great source of calcium. Rinse and dry eggshells. Crush them into a fine powder with a blender.
  2. Used coffee grounds: Provide nitrogen. After brewing your morning coffee, save the grounds. Spread them on a tray to dry out.
  3. Banana peels: Offer potassium. Chop banana peels and blend them with a bit of water to make a puree.
  4. Epsom salt: Supplies magnesium. Dissolve a teaspoon of Epsom salt in a liter of water.

Steps to follow:

  1. Mix a teaspoon of eggshell powder, a teaspoon of dried coffee grounds, and a tablespoon of banana peel puree.
  2. Combine this mix with the Epsom salt solution.
  3. Use this mixture to water your cactus, but be careful not to overwater.

This mixture can easily save you a few bucks and be more fun than going out at a local store 🙂

Final Words

Cacti are pretty tough plants that can handle rough spots. But even these sturdy guys appreciate a little extra care now and then. By picking the right fertilizer, you’re giving your cactus a little treat that helps it grow better. If you want to make it at home, you can do fine with this guide. 

We have more helpful guides like this one for your cactus on SucculentCity. See the suggestions below: 

Succulent City chief editor


Succulent City

Hey everyone! Welcome to Succulent City! We are all about succulents, cacti, and a bit about air plants. Ten years back, in 2013, we began the journey with succulents. It started as a simple hobby, crafting and selling charming succulent-themed pins and decorations. But as time passed, our fascination with these remarkable plants grew, and we gained extensive knowledge about them. Therefore, Succulent City is the blog as you see it is now. Enjoy your visit and happly planting!

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