Growing Cactus at home is easy and the plant does not require much attention and care. By using the right cactus potting soil the plant can adopt the indoor environment without any issue. Cacti thrive in warm and dry conditions. If you do not have indoor gardening experience than it is best to start from growing cactus at home.
We all know cactus are mostly found in deserts which means they need less water, less care, and a warm environment. So, they need soil which does not hold the moisture for a long time. Later we will tell you how cactus get moisture from the soil.
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Sandy soil is perfect for them it has excellent aeration and drainage properties. Cactus plant needs plenty of air, especially in the growing phase.
Let’s find out more about cactus potting soil and growing conditions.
Why cactus only grows in sandy soil?
To understand it completely you need to understand the way cactus rooting systems works. You may have heard of succulent tissue that suck the water from the rooting system and wax coatings of cactus which helps to store the water content. But you will be surprised when you know about the working pattern of cactus roots.
Cactus roots hold water in two ways. In the first method, the root structure holds the water and does not allow water loss to the soil by shrinking its size. In a second way, the plant uses its wide roots which are away from the plant itself and cover the wide area in the open field. These large roots absorb moisture content from the large part of the soil.
Cactus roots absorb water in a matter of minutes. Once the rainfall starts in the desert the root system gets 100% activated and absorb the water drops from the upper layer of the soil. Deserts do not get rainfall for more than 5 to 10 minutes and this type of rainfall only moist the upper few inches of soil.
If the cactus roots do not act quickly than the rainwater content in the soil gets evaporated in less than 5 minutes due to dry and hot weather.
In short cactus roots absorb water whenever it is available, they store it and shrink themselves to avoid water loss. If you grow cactus in other than sandy soil, this increases the chances of root rot up to 90 %. This means the soil should be sandy soil with very less water holding capacity.
How to make Cactus potting soil at home?
To make potting soil for the cactus plant you need soil with fast-draining properties with good nutritional values. Every plant needs a nutrition-rich soil so as cactus wants. The environment conditions in your home or in the desert are totally different. Deserts have a dry hot environment whereas at home we have a cool and warm environment with moisture in the air according to the weather condition (winter, summer, fall).
You need to protect your cactus from the humidity in the environment which is not present in its native places. The soil you choose for your cactus can take care of everything.
The best cactus potting soil will have inorganic material like perlite, gravel, etc with an organic mixture with fast-drying properties.
1 part Coco Coir, 1 part Potting mix and 2 parts Perlite
If you search online you will find many soil recipes all of them are equally powerful and suitable. One single potting soil recipe cannot be perfect for everyone. It depends upon the area where you live and the conditions in which you grow your cactus?
Most people use sand mix potting soil for cactus but the problem with this mixture is sand does not allow enough aeration for the root system. So, experts advise to add perlite instead of sand, this allows air to touch the roots and prevent fungus diseases.
Perlite is an inexpensive growing medium and you should use it in the place of sand and gravel.
Organic mixture for the potting soil for cactus growing.
Best options are
Peat moss is a highly recommended organic mixture for the cactus soil. You need to be careful with peat moss because it has great water-holding capabilities. So, you need to add it to your mixture in very quantity to avoid excess moisture problems.
Coco coir is a long fiber material it dries out quickly that saves your plant form root rot. It also makes good bonds with nutrients and full fill the nutritional needs of the plant.
Can I use commercial potting soils?
Mostly these soils are available in the local gardening stores. They make these soil on their own and also sell some branded potting soils. Nothing is wrong with this soil but we have found that these potting mixtures do not make with good quality materials. Moreover, they also do not add a good amount of porous material in it.
What will happen if you use regular potting soil for cactus?
The short answer is your plant will die with root rot and other fungus diseases. This does not mean you cannot use regular potting soil for cactus. All you need to do is do not use it on its own, add some perlite in it to make it fast-draining soil.
Regular soil also has fertilizers in it that might not be made for cactus.
When to water cactus plant?
Let the soil dry completely and then give some water to it. If you have soil meter it will be easy for you to check the soil conditions. you will get digital readings on the screen of soil water content. Otherwise fell the moisture in the soil. If you fell it is dry completely give a little bit water to it.
Keep in mind, the cactus roots need to dry completely before you water them again.
Conclusion: Cactus soil is easy to make at home or you can also use premixed potting soil made for cactus only. Jungle cacti are different from desert cactus. In the jungle, they grow in high humid conditions. So, the soil you use for the desert cactus plant should not be used for jungle cactus plants.
We hope you understand all about potting soil for cactus. If you still have doubts send us your Query