Can Cactus Soil Work Magic on Other Plants?

Maybe you have some spare cactus soil sitting around and wondered if you could use it for other plants. After all, using the spare soil lying around would save you from having to invest more cash in soils.

Can you use cactus soil for other plants? You can use cactus soil for succulents, but I wouldn’t advise that you pot regular plants in cactus soil. Regular plants don’t do well in sandy soil. Cactuses and succulents planted in regular soil will get root rot, so they need special soil.

If you’d like to learn more about soils and what works best with regular plants, keep reading for further information.

Why You Shouldn’t Use Cactus Soil for Regular Plants

Cactus soil wasn’t designed to hold in moisture, which means water passes through it with little chance of holding it in over the long term. Many plants don’t like this type of soil, and they will not thrive in it as well as regular soil. Take African violets as an example. Usually, they will thrive in compost and peat moss. You wouldn’t put cactus soil in this because its roots would rot.

How Does Cactus Soil Differ from Potting Soil?

You don’t want to pot regular plants in cactus soil because moisture doesn’t stand for long in cactus soil. It will have excellent drainage and dry out much faster than regular soil. Living in the desert, cactus know how to immediately process water that wets its root system. Meanwhile, the excess water will dry out to prevent fungal diseases from taking hold.

Potting soil, on the other hand, will keep the moisture for longer, and the plant will use the water as it sees fit.

How to Tell if the Plant Will Do Well in the Soil

With everything said about cactus soil and how it won’t work well for regular plants, this could make you wonder, “How do I tell if the soil is good for the plant?” First, look at the color of the soil. Soil rich in organic material, a good choice for regular plants, will usually have a darker appearance. It will crumble off at the roots of the plant, a good sign.

Healthy soil will usually have active animal life in it. Especially with outdoor plants, you will see ground beetles, spiders and centipedes giving life to the soil. Less than 10 and your soil likely isn’t the healthiest.

Another sign that you have healthy soil? Look at the aggregates or dirt clumps. It will normally have a rounder appearance to suggest you have healthier soil. Rounder aggregates allow the water to pass through the soil. If the aggregates don’t break apart easily, it could indicate a soil problem, such as being too hard.

Cactus Soil: Good Soil for Regular Plants?

Cactus soil for other plants, depending on the species, would most likely put a terrible strain on your plants. Most plants like soil that holds moisture and nutrients. As much as possible, you want to choose soil that mimics the natural environment of the plant.

That means that if you have bamboo palm, you want slightly alkaline to acidic soil conditions, and soil that drains well. You might buy a peat-based mixing soil and put drainage holes in the pot. That said, bamboo palm soil will differ greatly from cactus soil.

Cactus also prefer well-draining soil, but they prefer sandy and porous soil.

How to Determine if Cactus Soil Will Work Good for Your Plant

With everything said, in some cases, cactus soil might do the trick, depending on the plant. Before you use it, however, first look at the natural environment of that plant. What type of soil does it do well in? Every plant will be different, but generally speaking, cactus soil will work best for cactuses and succulents.

Can You Use Cactus Soil for Herbs?

You can use cactus soil for the herbs that do well in it, but the herbs won’t do as well if not adapted to that soil. Cactus soil drains the water fast. Herbs like thyme, oregano, sage and rosemary prefer that the soil dries out before you water it again, but it will do fine in cactus soil.

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Advantage of Cactus Soil

We have spoken about the disadvantages of cactus soil, but for plants that can handle this soil, it can work well. For example, this type of soil carries enough density to support larger plants. At the same time, the soil remains loose enough that it doesn’t impede the growth of the roots.

Cactus soil contains phosphorous, nitrogen and potassium. It contains many of the micronutrients that plants find essential as well, such as zinc, iron, manganese, chlorine and copper.

Indoor PlantsWhat You Need to Know

In general, cactus soil does better for outdoor plants than what it does for indoor plants. You can use it for indoor plants, but you may need some adjustments to fit their individual character. They prefer soil mix with better drainage and aeration than what cactus soil can give. Without this, you could get fungal infections or pest infestations that can spread to your other plants.

Can You Use Cactus Soil for Succulents?

Because succulents grow in deserts like the cactus, you can often grow them in the same soil. They like the same type of soil with easy drainage or the roots will start to rot. Succulents, like cactuses, developed similar characteristics to where they can’t tolerate standing water. They do better with feast and famine. For example, the rain will drench everything in the desert. Then, they won’t experience rain for several weeks.

Succulents only need some of the nutrients as other plants, making them an ideal choice. Another reason that you can use cactus soil for succulents is that cactuses are, in fact, the most famous succulent of them all.

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What Other Soil Options Do You Have?

Cactus soil may work for some plants like herbs and succulents and some regular plants can tolerate it. However, you do have cases where regular potting mix or all-purpose potting mix would do better. Some examples of the available soils include:

  • All-purpose potting mix
  • Orchid potting mix
  • Garden soil
  • Spaghnum peat moss

Each plant will have its own preferred soil, and it will do better in that type of soil. Before you plant something in a pot, you want to consider its natural needs and how it will do.

When you compare cactus soil to an all-purpose potting mix or regular potting mix, cactus soil has high drainage. Compared to orchid potting mix, however, it has a low drainage rate.

Pick a Soil to Best Suit Your Plant

If possible, I wouldn’t recommend that you use cactus soil for regular plants. They will do better in all-purpose soil or regular potting soil. You can put them in it, but you may find it not worth the time. Depending on the plant, some will even die in cactus soil because they don’t have enough time to bring in water. Regular plants aren’t used to that type of soil and can’t adapt to it.


To sum it up, cactus soil works best for cactuses, herbs and succulents. You could use it for regular plants, but you may find that it doesn’t give you the results that you hoped for. All-purpose potting soil will work better in most cases, depending on the plant. Think of the plant and its natural habitat. If it doesn’t live in the desert, it may have a harder time with the soil.

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