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Which cactus and succulent soil is best?

Growing healthy cactuses and succulents takes patience, a lot of sunlight and the right kind of soil. It can cause a bit of a headache for green thumbs used to indoor foliage plants. But armed with the right soil mixtures, you’ll have cactuses blooms and flower spikes to look forward to every year. If you’re looking for high-quality cactus soil at an affordable price, the Sun Gro Horticulture Black Gold Cactus Mix is the top choice.

What to know before you buy cactus and succulent soil

Growing cactuses and succulents isn’t rocket science. All you need is the right size pot, a consistent watering schedule and suitable soil. Succulent and cactus soils come in various compositions, quantities and containers. These are the key things to consider when shopping for cactus and succulent soil.


The makeup of regular potting soil for house plants consists of mostly organic material, like peat moss. This helps those common foliage plants soak up lots of moisture and thrive. However, cactuses and succulent plants don’t need as much organic matter and nutrients, so quality cactuses soil mixtures will have more inorganic materials, such as perlite, pumice, gravel and sand. Look for options that contain a substantial amount of inorganic materials.


Soils generally come in 2-quart to 8-quart bags. The amount of soil you need depends on how many plants you need to pot. You may also consider how much you will need if your plants grow quickly and you need to repot every couple of years. 


Most soils come in some type of plastic bag. Resealable bags can help keep your soil fresh. They can also make it easier to protect against spills and pests.

What to look for in quality cactus and succulent soil

When choosing the best soil for potting cactuses and succulents, there are a few things to consider. You want soil that dries out between waterings, provides a loose texture, drains easily and mimics the plants’ natural nutrient intake.

Moisture Retention

One of the major differences between soil for cactus and succulent plants and soil for other house plants is how much water it retains. Root rot is a common problem when growing cactuses and succulents, so quality soil mixtures will not retain as much moisture, which will keep your plants dry and happy between waterings.


In general, cactus and succulent soils tend to be lighter, both because of the lightweight mediums used and the larger granules of the substrate. Cactuses and succulent roots prefer a bit more breathing room, so look for soils that aren’t too dense.


A key element of growing cactuses and succulents is making sure their pots drain fully after each watering. This mimics their natural environment in the desert where long droughts are interrupted by short bursts of rain. Most high-quality soil mixtures for cactuses and succulents are designed to drain quickly.


Since cactuses and succulents don’t need as much organic material as other house plants, they also don’t need as many nutrients. Their natural environment tends to include soils low in nutrients, so providing a similar growing environment will let them thrive.

How much you can expect to spend on cactus and succulent soil

You can expect to spend between $5-$20, depending on the volume and the quality of the soil.

Cactus and succulent soil FAQ

What is quick-draining soil?

A. When working with cactuses and succulent plants, it’s important to provide a suitable environment for them that mirrors their natural environment. These arid plants are used to quick bursts of rainstorms followed by long dry periods. The soil they’re used to drains quickly to avoid pooling and rotting the roots of the plants. Quick-draining soil mimics this with inorganic materials like pumice and perlite, which add lots of space between the denser mediums, allowing water to flow freely through to the bottom of the pot.

Do I need to fertilize my cactuses and succulents?

A. That depends. If you’re using a cactus and succulent soil mixture that includes organic matter, your soil likely has enough nutrients to keep your durable desert plants happy. If you’re only using a gritty mix of gravel without any organic matter, your cactuses and succulents will grow best with a small amount of fertilizer during each watering session.

What if my soil isn’t draining fast enough?

A. When you water your cactuses and succulent plants, the water should run very quickly from top to bottom and out the holes of your pot. If it isn’t, your soil may be too dense. That means that it will trap moisture within the pot, which can overwhelm your desert plants and cause root rot. If you notice this happening, gently stir in some extra perlite or pumice to loosen up the dense soil mixture. Adjust as necessary until water floods out of your pot with each watering.

What’s the best cactus and succulent soil to buy?

Top cactus and succulent soil

Sun Gro Horticulture Black Gold Cactus Mix

Sun Gro Horticulture Black Gold Cactus Mix

What you need to know: This high-quality cactus mix uses volcanic pumice, perlite, sand and forest humus for beginners and green thumbs alike to grow happy, healthy plants.

What you’ll love: The mix of mediums makes for a gritty texture, which drains easily so your cactuses and succulents won’t rot. The mixture is evenly distributed, so it’s ready to use out of the bag. 

What you should consider: The ratio of porous materials may vary from bag to bag.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Top cactus and succulent soil for the money

The Succulent Cult Premium Organic Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix

The Succulent Cult Premium Organic Succulent & Cactus Soil Mix

What you need to know: This lightweight and eco-friendly soil mixture is excellent for succulent and cactus propagation.

What you’ll love: The lightweight soil is easy to pot and makes the bag easy to carry. The soil works well with all types of succulents and cactuses, as well as plumeria trees and other plants that need similar growing conditions. The bag is resealable for convenience. Overall, this succulent and cactus mix is a great value.

What you should consider: Some customers have noticed an unpleasant smell.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

Worth checking out 

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

Hoffman Organic Cactus and Succulent Soil Mix

What you need to know: Green thumbs love this organic soil mix for its light and airy texture, which keeps cactuses and succulents happy.

What you’ll love: This mix, in particular, is ideal for cactuses, as it has plenty of perlite to help the soil breathe and drain. It works well with cuttings and propagation. This is a great choice for new gardeners looking for a go-to cactus and succulent soil mix.

What you should consider: Some customers have noticed drainage issues.

Where to buy: Sold by Amazon

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Katy Palmer writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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