Cactus Potting Soil (Homemade Guides & Store-bought Option)

cactus potting soil featured image

Cacti are amazing plants that grow in parched places like deserts. One big reason they can do this is because of the special soil they grow in. Using the correct soil type is important if you want to grow a cactus at home. This article will help you understand what kind of soil your cactus needs and how to get or make it. Let’s get started!

Cactus Soil Natural Conditions

Cacti are mainly found in arid and semi-arid regions of the Americas. The soil in these areas has unique features suited for the survival of these plants. Most importantly, the soil is well-draining, ensuring that water doesn’t stagnate around the roots, which can cause rot. This drainage is due to the sandy or gravelly texture of the soil. Unlike many plants that love rich, organic soils, cacti thrive in places with low organic matter. This is because the desolate landscapes they come from have few plants and minimal decaying vegetation to enrich the soil.

The soil in these desert areas, while lacking in organic content, is often mineral-rich. Rainfall in these areas is scarce, so minerals aren’t easily washed away, and with fewer plants, there’s less competition for these nutrients. The natural pH of the soil where cacti grow tends to be alkaline. When people grow cacti at home, they often use a “cactus mix,” a soil blend designed to mimic these natural conditions, ensuring good water drainage and proper nutrient balance.

Cactus Soil Mix Vs. Regular Potting Soil

Here, I make a quick comparison table:

Cactus Soil MixRegular Soil Mix
ComponentsFast-draining ingredientsMoisture-retained compositions
Moisture retentionQuicklySlowly
pH LevelsAlkaline (pH>7)Neutrally-acidic (< or equal to 7)
NutrientsLow organic mattersRich-blended matters

Now that you generally know what makes a soil mix perfect for cacti. They prefer fast-draining components that quickly release moisture and contain low organic matter.

A quick FAQ: “Can I use regular potting soil for cactus?”

Answer: Yes, but not ideally. Using cactus potting soil is recommended, but if you have no other choice, add more sand and perlite to the mixture for faster drainage. Use pots with holes and water sparingly. If the cactus struggles (signs of upcoming root rot), read the simple DIY guide below on making your cactus potting soil at home easily to change the situation quickly.

How To Make Cactus Soil (DIY Guide)


  1. Coarse sand or grit
  2. Perlite or pumice
  3. Peat moss or coco coir
  4. Optional: composted pine bark or topsoil


  1. Mix 3 parts coarse sand or grit.
  2. Add 2 parts perlite or pumice for good aeration.
  3. Blend in 1 part peat moss or coco coir for slight moisture retention.
  4. Optionally, you can add 1 part of composted pine bark or garden soil for some organic matter.

Combine all ingredients thoroughly in a large container or bucket. Adjust the mixture by gradually adding more sand or perlite until you reach the desired drainage.

A quick FAQ: “Can you use cactus soil for succulents?”

Answer: Yes. Because cacti are basically succulents, though not 100%.

How To Know When You Need To Change Soil Mix/re-pot your cactus

Knowing when to re-pot or change the soil of your cactus is key to its well-being. Clear signs include:

  • Roots poking out of the drainage holes.
  • A noticeable slowdown in growth.
  • Soil that stays soggy for too long.
  • A visible salty white crust on the soil surface.

Disease or pests, compacted soil, or a shift in the soil’s pH are also indicators that it’s time for a change.

Time needed: 30 minutes

I estimated 30 minutes for this guide, but the duration might vary. To repot a cactus, here are a few simple steps:

  1. Choose a suitable time:

    Preferably, I choose spring when the cactus is actively growing.

  2. Select a new pot:

    A new pot, which is slightly larger than the current one with more drainage holes, ensures better drainage.

  3. Remove your cactus:

    Remember to inspect your cactus for damaged roots and trim them. Please place it in a new pot filled with a fresh cactus soil mix.

  4. Be patient:

    Give the cactus about a week to adjust before you water it in its new home. This patience will ensure that any disturbed roots have adequate time to heal, promoting a healthier plant in the long run.

Do you find this short guide detailed enough? Here is the full guide for re-potting a cactus >>

A quick FAQ: “Do cacti like acidic soil?

Answer: No. Cacti don’t like acidic soil, though they can survive it. As I stated earlier, cacti prefer alkaline soil with pH > 7. You can effortlessly get this by following the mentioned mixing formula. 

Summing Up

To help cacti grow well at home, we must give them the correct soil type. This special soil lets the water run through quickly, just like in the desert. By using the right mix, our cacti can be strong and healthy. For closing words, that’s all I want to say. Here are more relevant guides for you on SucculentCity: 

Happy reading & planting!

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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