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Can You Use Cactus Soil for Succulents? (Explained)

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Last updated on September 26th, 2022 at 12:17 pm

Do you have succulents in your garden? Well, if you don’t, you may be looking forward to having the wonderful experience of gardening them.

Nonetheless, since selecting suitable soil is key to the growth of any plant, you may wonder what kind of soil suits these succulents best.

Cactus soil is suitable for succulents due to its composition, which comprises partially sand or grit, some soil, and peat moss pinch.

Thanks to its superior drainage, which causes the soil to dry out quickly after watering, it prevents the succulents from sitting in water to prevent rot and fungal disease.

Is Cactus Soil the Same as Succulent Soil?

Cactus soil is not the same as succulent soil. However, one can have a mix up that can work great for 95% of succulents.

The recipe must be such that it retains just enough moisture to keep the root from drying out yet not so much to cause rot or fungal illness.

Furthermore, the organic matter to provide nutrients (Peats) must be little also to reduce the need for fertilizer. Again, the organic matter must be enough to balance out the water retention.

Is Cactus Soil Good for Succulents?

Cactus soil is good for succulents. This is because of its ability to support the succulent physically, retain a little moisture and nutrients, and drain excess water to avoid plant rot.

Soil for succulents must be made a little different from garden soil else they will rot. What you will use in the garden for landscape succulents will likely vary a lot from that to be used in containers.

However, note that no two succulents have the same soil mix since different plants have different demands.

Factors to Consider When Selecting Cactus Soil for Succulent Plants?

There are a lot of factors you need to consider when selecting cactus soil for your succulents. They include soil texture, drainage capacity, moisture content of the soil, soil composition, etc.

You need the right kind of soil for succulent plants to thrive and for a longer lifespan. The idea in purchasing a succulent is to try to mimic its previous growing conditions. This is achieved by ensuring you have the right potting mix (soil).

Since succulents do not enjoy wet soil, which can lead to root rot, fungal illness and a host of other bugs, the cactus soil must be well-draining, non-compact and have appropriate aeration.

Generally, rough and loose soil is an ideal option for succulents. This makes for breathing of the roots since it does not hold water and gives good aeration.

So, the following are factors to consider in selecting the right cactus soil for succulent plants;

1. Soil Texture

The cactus soil must be pebbly, sandy, porous and one that provides excellent drainage and aeration.

2. Drainage Capacity

The soil must be able to dry quickly after watering the plant to avoid high moisture content.

3. Moisture Content of Soil

Also, the moisture content must not be too high. It must be relatively low to reduce water retention in the soil to avoid rot, fungal illness and bugs.

4. Inorganic Soil

Inorganic soil is ideal and helps keep the soil well-drained. Hence, the soil should contain sand and perlite. Organic soil will retain too much water. Soil that has too much peat moss, ground coconut fibers and ground bark is organic.

5. Soil Composition

To avoid soil retaining too much water, the ideal soil composition should be pebbly and gritty, which drains well and is aerated.

This means that particle size ingredients need to be ¼ inches. Also, for the right pH, the soil should have a 5.5 or 6 pH so that the soil is not too acidic. Rainwater is ideal for balancing pH soil.

6. Potting Mixes Available in the Vicinity

The mix should have good drainage and excellent water-holding feature. Hence, the pot should have drainage holes.

They should also not dry out completely to leave some moisture for the roots when they dry out. Note that not all potting mixes are good for indoor plants.

Hence, you need to include other ingredients after purchasing.

7. Know the Kind of Succulent Plant You Purchased

Is it a tropical or an arid succulent? For tropical succulents (which includes the Christmas cactus), they need evenly moist soil that does not become waterlogged. They need one that drains perfectly. Again, they need soil mixed with organic matter.

However, for the arid succulent (which grows mostly in desert areas and bear fruits and flowers), the soil must not be waterlogged soil which will cause root rot. Moreover, arid succulents need dry soil as they are used in desert areas.

8. Soil Content

The soil content determines to a large extent whether the plant grows healthy or not. Ideal cactus soil should contain the following;

8.1 Pumice

Pumice of 25-30% of the soil content for porosity. This is a volcanic rock in the form of lumps. It is used as an additive for potting mixes to have great drainage conditions for the plants.

With high drainage, it leaves enough space for air so that it retains enough moisture, so it reduces the number of times you water your plant to further reduce the chances of root rot.

8.2 Akadama

Akadama (a clay-like mineral) to combine the other ingredients. Also known as Perlite (usually volcanic glass mined) has high water content, neutral pH and good aeration qualities.

Used for a succulent potting mix that does not require moisture. It retains moisture and drains any excess water making the soil dry.

8.3 Vermiculite

A hydrated laminar mineral that mixes easily with the other ingredients in the soil. It has better water retention and soil aeration.

It also makes it easier for the plant to absorb growth nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium and ammonium. These are all required for healthy growth. Vermiculite is also used during transplanting.

8.4 Enzogenol

A 100% natural extract found in New Zealand pine trees which holds water making it perfect for succulents. It is also known as New Zealand pine bark.

8.5 Expanded Shale

Expanded shale is known as Haydite. It absorbs excess water and releases it slowly to the roots. This ensures there are no issues with roots rotting.

8.6 Sand

It ensures the soil drains properly. The addition of both gravel and grit helps better drainage. Construction sand is best since it is coarse and inexpensive.

8.7 Coco coir and composted rice musk

They absorb excess moisture and dry out quickly. They last long, are rot-resistant and have good nutrient bonding properties.

Though organic yet they possess good draining abilities making them the best organic matter for a potting mix for succulents. You may consider making your potting mix.


Cactus soil is one of the best soil for succulents. Nonetheless, there is always a slightly different twist in the soil mix, which is dependent on the kind of succulent plant in question.

However, the best potting mix for your succulent plant is one that provides the original growing conditions from whence it was grown. Yes, succulents vary, but the cactus soil has basic factors for their health and growth.

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