Return to the Arizona Gardening Forum | Post a Follow-Up

 o
Soil for Cactus

Posted by xica_da_silva (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 22, 11 at 18:05

So I'm going to try to transplant my brand new Pilosocereus azureus cactus into the ground! Wish me luck!

Actually,I'm not too worried about doing it, because I transplanted my Pachypodium with success last year which is about the same size...2 ft tall and w/ single columnar spine.

But my question is this, since I've never really dealt with any true cacti before:

Should I get the special cactus potting soil or should I just dump it into the ground and backfill? Any other helpful hints to ensure success? I'm imaging good drainage is important, and I probably shouldn't water it for a while?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated! :)


Follow-Up Postings:

 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

  • Posted by AJBB none (My Page) on
    Sun, Oct 23, 11 at 0:34

I mix 1 part native soil, 1 part cactus/palm mix, and 1 part compost to my backfill. The cactus/palm mix and compost improve drainage massively.

Most commerical cactus growers grow their plants in essentially a fast draining potting mix. When you're at Home Depot or Lowes, take a look and see what their big cacti are planted in.


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Thanks, AJBB!

I guess another trip to Home Depot is in order today! :)


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Most cacti don't want too much moisture-holding organic material in their soil, so I usually use either just native soil, or like AJBB mentioned, native soil mixed with some cactus/palm commercial soil. Definitely stay away from leafy compost and manures too. Sounds like you've got a good plan. Keep us posted!! Take care, Grant


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Hi all,

Just a little update: my blue cactus appears to be doing okay. Although, he did just receive his first watering with the 3/4 inch rain we had the other night, so I am waiting to see if there are any signs of stress(none that I can see so far). Which brings me to my question:

What are signs of stress on a cactus like this? Particularly, I am concerned about the potential for root rot, since that seems to be the greatest threat (aside from frost once that day comes). Will it turn colors? I find cactus to be tricky in this regard...no leaves to give you an idea that something's wrong! Hmph.

I am guessing that since this isn't growing season, I should water it only sparingly (maybe once or twice a month tops?)? It's on the west side of my house so it does get as much sun as it can at least.


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

  • Posted by AJBB none (My Page) on
    Sun, Nov 6, 11 at 20:24

I wouldn't do anything. We get enough water in the winter to get your cactus established. If the cactus start to rot due to excessive water, it'll start turning yellow and then start dessicating.

Make sure to put a styrofoam cup on it before any frosts to minimize damage.


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Yup, if it was mine, I would not water it again until you see serious signs of growth in spring when it warms up again. Nada, nothing, zilch. I water mine once every week to ten days when it's very hot out, and once a month when it's warm, then not at all November-March.

Good luck and keep us posted!
Take care,
Grant


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

I don't water cactus unless it shrinks, starts going limp or I want to speed up growth. Kind of depends on location too.

I plant in local soil, but I guess that would depend on the species.

Nurseries do have different issues and reasons for picking growing media. For example they want to water often, growth = $$$, so they need super drainage. Planting in the ground the drainage is less important unless it's planted where there's going to be a lot of watering. For my conditions the clay soil is helpful in holding moisture.

Root rot would be one issue. Another is fungus. In both cases I'd say by the time you see there's a problem it's probably too late.


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Thanks, guys. I definitely will avoid watering!

However, one thing I'm wondering about drainage is:

I do have decorative rocks surrounding the cactus...maybe it would be better to rake them away to let the soil air out a bit (we got some more rain last night, and so I'm worried that it's not getting the chance to dry out)? The rocks are probably about an inch deep...not sure if they prevent water from evaporating? I also wonder if sprinkling or massaging corn meal into the surrounding soil might be helpful for prevention of fungus? Hmmm...


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

  • Posted by AJBB none (My Page) on
    Tue, Nov 8, 11 at 20:24

That's not an issue. You need to be concerned if the soil is still wet (not simply mildly damp) several inches below those rocks a week after it has rained. That's an indication that your roots are likely drowning in poorly draining soil.


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Thanks again for the information, AJBB.


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Hi All,
I am going to make a raised planter -- 24" high -- to plant about a dozen large totem pole cacti. the planter will measure about 10' x 12', so i'll need a lot of soil that's specific for cacti. Does anyone know a good, cheap source for this that will also deliver?


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

Native soil for the price of a shovel and some sweat.

This post was edited by Fascist_Nation on Sun, Aug 31, 14 at 11:43


 o
RE: Soil for Cactus

I'm building a 18" tall planter and am planning some small cactus. I really don't have a clue on the soil.

I have one shallow terracotta container, 4-6" deep, 24" diameter that has clay soil from the yard which I've had small cactus in for about 8 years. I rarely ever watered it and one cactus did died, one almost died and one has done OK, but didn't increase in size. In the past couple of years I've watered it once in a while, few days in a row for many 3-5 days, and the 2 remaining cactus have done better, flowered.

On the other hand I have some cactus in very well drained soil, a mound like 3' high, 10' diameter. I didn't water for months and it started drooping which I take as a sign of lack of water, also diameter of plant was shrinking. So I watered some and they start looking better. I moved a drip next to one and I think it's rotted, but can't tell if that's from the watering or it actually was dying from lack of water.

I've found it very difficult to tell a good water amount. I do think water getting on the actual cactus or around the base is probably not good. Watering around the cactus seems to be safer.

For now I'm sticking with backyard soil. The clay holds the water which I think is good for a planter, but I let the soil dry out in between. I saw a nursery guy on TV say they water the cactus in pots everyday which with the well draining soil they use I guess is OK but would be bad for clay soil I think.

I'm still learning. Cactus seem to be super easy to grow and super easy to kill and they don't say much in between.


 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!


Return to the Arizona Gardening Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.


Learn more about in-text links on this page here