Substrate for cacti and succulents: how to do it

Cacti and succulents are increasingly popular in gardening and decoration thanks to their particular and striking shapes, which give a different touch to any room. However, although they are plants that are generally quite resistant, it is true that they have some needs that are worth paying attention to. For example, one of their most important needs is the substrate or soil in which they are planted, regardless of whether it is in soil or in a pot.

If you want to know how to make a substrate for cacti and succulents , join us in this article.

Type of substrate a succulent or cactus needs

Most succulents are native to desert or very dry and arid terrain . This means that they are not only used to harsh conditions, but have their own specific needs.

One of the main ones, because of how harmful it can be if it is not carefully followed, is that most succulents do not tolerate damp soils. Obviously, they need water like all plants, although succulents have the capacity to store large amounts of water to withstand long periods without irrigation, but if they are in soils with excess moisture, rot and fungi will not take long to attack them.

For this reason, it is very important that your succulents have a soil or substrate with very good drainage , which ensures the least accumulation of moisture possible. In addition, since they are used to arid soils , these plants also do not need a large amount of nutrients in their substrates and, in fact, excess nitrogen will weaken them.

Find out if your succulents are of desert origin or other somewhat more humid areas. If they come from areas with more humidity, you will need to adapt the substrate so that it retains more water.

How to make a substrate for cacti and succulents

If we take into account what has already been said, you will have realized that the universal substrate alone does not work for these plants. However, you do not need to spend the money to buy a specific mixture, because here we are going to see how to prepare substrate for cacti and succulents .

There are many recipes to make soil for cacti and succulents . To make a substrate suitable for succulents in general, whether they are cacti or not, it is best to use a mixture of one of these two types, depending on the type of climate in which you live:

  • Mix 2 parts of universal substrate and 1 part of pumice stone, pumice or some other volcanic rock with similar characteristics, light and porous. This mixture is suitable for temperate climates and will help keep your succulents healthy, without excessive levels of humidity.
  • If instead, you are going to work with succulents that need particularly dry soils, we can use a mixture with peat moss and fir bark , which will provide a soil with even less moisture.

What are the best pots for cacti and succulents

One of the most important things about succulent and cactus pots is that they have drainage holes. Since we use substrates with a high drainage capacity , the pot has to be able to expel excess water from its bottom to keep the roots away from excess moisture. In addition, these holes are also very useful for, in the case of small pots, that help us to know when the plant needs a transplant, if its roots can be seen through the holes.

In addition, in clay pots , being a porous material, moisture is better eliminated and the roots grip more easily, although on the other hand we will have to be more careful in transplants.

When and how to transplant cacti and succulents

Usually, what marks the moment to transplant a succulent is not the size of the visible plant but, as we have said before, its roots. When the roots poke through the drainage holes , the plant needs a new, bigger home. Follow these steps and tips to transplant succulents and cacti:

  • When transplanting this type of plant, be very careful not to break the roots when removing it from its current pot. If we pull on the plant itself, we risk the roots breaking in a detrimental or even fatal way for the plant. To remove the plant from the pot without damaging it, use small taps on the edges and sides of the pot. You can even strain a pencil through the drainage holes to loosen the dirt a bit.
  • Do not transplant your succulent to a pot much larger than the previous one, since it is better that it grows little by little, without having too much soil to spare.
  • Finally, before planting it in its new pot, carefully loosen as much substrate as you can from the roots, gently untangling them as much as possible.

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