Can You Use Cactus Soil For Other Plants

Soil, the lifeline of plants, plays a pivotal role in determining their health and vitality. Among the various soil types, cactus soil stands out for its unique composition tailored to support desert plants.

But is it suitable for other green companions? Let’s unearth its potential and limitations.

Can You Use Cactus Soil For Other Plants?

Yes, you can use cactus soil for other plants. Cactus soil is designed for plants that require well-draining conditions, mimicking desert environments.

While it’s ideal for cacti and succulents, many other plants, especially those from Mediterranean regions or those that dislike waterlogged roots, can also thrive in it.

For instance, several herbs like rosemary and lavender prefer well-draining soils similar to cactus mix. However, plants that crave moisture or richer soil might not fare as well without some modifications to the mix. Always consider a plant’s natural habitat and needs when choosing its soil.

How Does Cactus Soil Differ From Potting Soil?

Cactus soil and potting soil are formulated to cater to different plant needs, and they differ mainly in composition, texture, and moisture retention capabilities. Here’s a breakdown:


  • Cactus Soil

Typically contains a blend of organic material, sand, perlite, and sometimes fine gravel. It’s designed to have less organic matter than regular potting soil.

  • Potting Soil

Generally made up of a mix of organic matter such as peat moss or coco coir, vermiculite or perlite, and sometimes compost or composted bark. It has a higher organic content.


  • Cactus Soil

Coarser in texture which allows for rapid water drainage and prevents water from pooling around the plant’s roots.

  • Potting Soil

Finer texture which retains moisture more effectively, providing a steady supply of water to the plant’s roots.

Moisture Retention

  • Cactus Soil

Due to its fast-draining properties, cactus soil doesn’t hold onto water for very long. This is essential for cacti and succulents which are prone to root rot in stagnant water.

  • Potting Soil

Designed to hold moisture for a longer duration. This is suitable for a wide range of houseplants that require consistent moisture around their roots.

Nutrient Content

  • Cactus Soil

Generally leaner in nutrients because desert plants are adapted to grow in less fertile conditions.

  • Potting Soil

Often enriched with a variety of nutrients to support the growth of a wider variety of plants.

pH Levels

  • Cactus Soil

Often has a more alkaline pH, which is favorable for many cacti and succulents.

  • Potting Soil

Typically has a neutral to slightly acidic pH, suitable for a broad range of plants.

While both cactus soil and potting soil serve as mediums for plant growth, their unique compositions reflect the environments of the plants they’re designed to support.

Cactus soil mimics the arid desert conditions, while potting soil is formulated for plants needing consistent moisture and nutrient support.

Can You Use Cactus Soil For Herbs?

Yes, you can use cactus soil for herbs, especially for those that prefer well-draining soil conditions. However, whether cactus soil is appropriate for an herb largely depends on the herb’s natural habitat and moisture preferences. Here’s a breakdown:

Suitable Herbs For Cactus Soil

  • Mediterranean Herbs

Many herbs from the Mediterranean region, like rosemary, lavender, thyme, oregano, and sage, thrive in well-draining soil.

These herbs naturally grow in regions where the soil is rocky and doesn’t retain excessive moisture. For these herbs, cactus soil can be a good fit.

Modifying Cactus Soil For Herbs

Even for herbs that appreciate well-draining soil, you might consider slightly modifying the cactus mix to ensure optimal growth.

Blending cactus soil with some regular potting soil or adding a bit of compost can provide added nutrients beneficial for herbs.

Herbs That May Not Prefer Cactus Soil

Herbs that prefer consistently moist conditions might not thrive in pure cactus soil. Examples include basil, parsley, mint, and cilantro. For these herbs, a more moisture-retentive soil mix might be better.


  • Watering

Herbs planted in cactus soil will likely require watering less frequently than those in regular potting soil due to the fast-draining nature of the cactus mix.

  • Nutrition

Cactus soil may not be as nutrient-rich as typical herb or vegetable potting mixes. If you notice your herbs are lacking vigor, consider adding a balanced liquid fertilizer during the growing season.

While cactus soil can be used for certain herbs, especially those that prefer drier conditions, it’s essential to monitor the plants and adjust care practices accordingly. A blend of cactus soil with potting mix or added organic matter can often create an ideal medium for many herbs.

Advantages Of Cactus Soil

Cactus soil offers several advantages tailored to the specific needs of cacti and similar plants. Here are some of its benefits:

Excellent Drainage

Cactus soil is formulated to drain quickly. This prevents excessive moisture from staying around the roots, which can cause root rot, a common issue for cacti and succulents.

Prevents Overwatering

Due to its fast-draining nature, it’s less likely that plants potted in cactus soil will suffer from overwatering, a common mistake especially for beginner gardeners.

Mimics Natural Habitat

Cactus soil replicates the natural, arid, and sandy conditions of the desert, where many cacti and succulents originate.

Good Aeration

The coarse texture of cactus soil ensures that roots receive plenty of air, which is crucial for healthy root growth and overall plant health.

Reduces Fungal Diseases

Fast drainage and aeration minimize the chances of fungal diseases, which often thrive in prolonged wet conditions.

pH Balanced

Many cactus soils are slightly alkaline, which suits the needs of many desert plants.


Cactus soil tends to be lighter than regular potting mix, making pots easier to move around.’

Promotes Strong Roots

The soil’s texture encourages roots to grow strong and deep, searching for water, which can lead to healthier and more resilient plants.

Low Nutrient Content

While this might sound like a disadvantage, many cacti and succulents thrive in conditions with lower nutrients, reducing the risk of over-fertilizing.

Versatile For Other Plants

While designed for cacti and succulents, this soil can also be beneficial for other plants that prefer well-draining conditions, such as certain herbs and ornamentals.

Overall, cactus soil provides an environment that meets the unique needs of cacti, succulents, and other plants that thrive in less nutrient-rich and well-draining conditions.

FAQs about Cactus Soil

1. Is cactus soil the same as succulent soil?

Generally, yes. Both cactus and succulent soils are formulated to provide excellent drainage. However, there might be slight variations in composition depending on the brand and intended use.

2. Can I make my own cactus soil?

Absolutely! A common DIY mix includes one part potting soil, one part coarse sand (like builder’s sand), and one part perlite or pumice.

3. Why does my cactus soil stay wet for a long time?

Several factors could cause this: the pot might lack proper drainage holes, the environment might be too humid, or the soil may have become compacted over time. Ensure your pot has sufficient drainage and consider repotting with fresh soil if necessary.

4. Can I use cactus soil for indoor plants?

It depends on the plant. While cactus soil is ideal for cacti, succulents, and some other drought-tolerant plants, many indoor plants require a more moisture-retentive potting mix.

5. Do I still need to fertilize plants in cactus soil?

While cactus soil is typically leaner in nutrients, occasional fertilization can benefit the plants. Use a diluted, balanced fertilizer or one specifically designed for cacti and succulents.

6. Can I mix cactus soil with regular potting soil?

Yes, mixing the two can create a medium with balanced drainage and moisture retention, suitable for a wider variety of plants.

7. How often should I repot plants in cactus soil?

Generally, repotting every 2-3 years is good practice. However, it depends on the growth rate of the plant and whether the soil has become compacted.

8. Why is my plant wilting in cactus soil?

Wilting can be due to underwatering, overwatering, or root rot. Ensure you’re watering appropriately and check the roots for signs of rot.

9. Is cactus soil pH balanced?

Most commercial cactus soils are slightly alkaline to neutral, suiting the preferences of many cacti and succulents.

10. Can I use cactus soil for seed starting?

While it’s possible, cactus soil may not be the best choice for most seeds due to its coarse texture and rapid drainage. A seed-starting mix or finer potting soil might be more appropriate.


Cactus soil is a specialized medium designed to cater to the unique needs of cacti, succulents, and other drought-tolerant plants.

Its well-draining properties, coarse texture, and specific pH make it an ideal choice for plants that thrive in desert-like conditions.

While it can be used for other plants, particularly those that prefer similar soil characteristics, it’s essential to match the soil type with the plant’s specific requirements.

Whether you’re growing cacti, herbs, or other plants, understanding the nuances of the soil you’re using can significantly impact the health and success of your plants.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *