How Big Of A Pot Does A Cactus Need

The pot or container you choose for your cactus is crucial and might have an impact on the health of your plant. We will discuss many best and worst cacti pots and containers in this article. We’ll also discuss the advantages and disadvantages of various pots and the significance of size and shape.

Cacti and their growth are significantly influenced by the type of container, its form, and size. While some containers are ideal or excellent, others are completely inappropriate.

Importance of cacti pot/container shape

Before we discuss container materials, let’s discuss another crucial aspect. Take care of the container’s form while buying one for your cactus. When purchasing a planter for your cactus, some qualities to consider include the following:

  • The size of the container should be similar to that of the cactus. This is so that, if planted in a large container, cacti’s roots, which are frequently not very long, will remain in the middle of the container.
  • Cacti grow well in cylinder, short, and square pots. Avoid selecting containers that are overly deep, tall, or small.
  • All of the dirt in the container should be “used” by your cactus. Therefore, there shouldn’t be an excessive amount of dirt that the cactus roots can’t penetrate. Only leave enough room around the plant for growth and drainage in the bottom.

Size of pots for your cacti

As we’ve already established, your cactus, and more specifically its roots, should practically be the same size as the pot. The best plan is to take your cactus outside and examine its roots before selecting a pot or container. Remove a cactus from its current container, examine the roots, and measure them.

Your cactus needs a wide container if its roots are short but growing to the sides, and a deeper container if its roots are long and spreading outward. Additionally, you’ll need to give room for drainage, so a pot should be just a little bit deeper than the roots.

To make your cactus comfortable in the pot, while picking a pot, add around 1-2 inches in width (to your plant’s full width). Depending on the type of cactus you choose, the depth of the container should be between 4 and 7 inches. Cylindrical cacti, for example, have lengthy roots, whereas other varieties have shorter roots (such as ball cacti).

Ceramic terracotta or glazed ceramic pots/containers for cacti

Among the advantages of ceramic planters are:

  • Pots made of ceramic are sturdy and weighty.
  • Ceramic pots come in a variety of styles and colors, many of which are glazed, making them a great option for ornamental settings.
  • Ceramic pots’ porous nature prevents water logging or accumulation (provided you have potted your plants in the right soil mix).
  • They are lovely and stunning in any environment.
  • They are appropriate for the colder months when it is not as heated outside.

Several drawbacks

  • Terracotta planters in particular are porous and minimize water buildup, however this can be detrimental to young seedlings and plants. This indicates that the soil will dry up more quickly, especially if you leave your cactus outside and during hot weather. You can forget about it, but frequent watering can also cause the pH of the soil to rise. In the section on selecting soil for cactus, we talked about how the pH of the soil should be acidic. However, larger plants thrive in ceramic containers.
  • To avoid having to drill the drainage holes yourself, make sure the ceramic pots include them. Drainage holes are necessary, but they might not be present in all ceramic pots.
  • Cactus roots may not penetrate the soil completely and instead focus on the sides. This occurs as a result of the ceramic container’s water evaporating quite quickly and leaving behind mineral residue on the sides. The roots of cacti lean to the sides in an effort to reach these minerals, but they can only burn themselves because the sides of the planters heat up.
  • Ceramic pots are more likely to develop mold.
  • Ceramic utensils may crack (especially with children or pets).

Make sure to choose the appropriate size and shape when selecting a ceramic planter. This set of three ceramic planters for small plants serves as an illustration of a ceramic pot or planter for your cacti.

Plastic pots/planters/containers for cacti

Plastic planters are another kind of container that is excellent for growing cacti in.

benefits of using plastic containers to cultivate cacti:

  • Plastic containers are portable and lightweight, making them simple to transport.
  • Less watering will be needed to maintain soil in a plastic container because it will dry out more gradually. In comparison to ceramic pots, this means fewer watering sessions.
  • Cacti do well in plastic pots since they don’t overheat easily and can retain heat even after the sun has set. Because most cacti don’t enjoy quick temperature drops, this is a useful feature.
  • The low cost of plastic pots offers an additional benefit.
  • To avoid waterlogging, most plastic containers feature numerous drainage holes. Additional holes can be drilled if necessary.
  • The roots of cactus do well in plastic containers because they spread out uniformly across the soil. This is because roots won’t lean to the sides of a plastic container since water won’t evaporate through the sides. Additionally, the acidity of the soil will last longer.
  • The likelihood of mold formation is decreased.
  • Both little and large adult cacti do well in plastic containers.
  • If you bang on them from a table or windowsill, they won’t break.

Hanging containers for cacti

For your cacti, you can also choose hanging basket pots. Smaller or larger trailing cactus can grow in hanging pots. Additionally, you can use them to indoor or outdoor adorn your home. Make sure your hanging pot has drainage holes and perhaps a saucer to catch any water that may drip from it as many hanging pots lack these features. These particular plastic pots allow you to drill your own holes in the bottom.

Bad containers for growing cacti

Let’s start by stating that growing cactus in glass pots is not recommended. A cactus terrarium is often made in a glass container. This is not the same as letting a cactus develop for several years. Cacti do not appreciate humidity or waterlogging, thus terrariums are not the best environment for them.

Glass cactus containers have several advantages.

  • For a special occasion, you may assemble a lovely terrarium with cacti and take the plants out right away (maximum of 2-3 weeks). If you’re making cacti terrariums, only use open glass containers. Plant cacti together only if their requirements are comparable. For making a cactus terrarium, you can add decorations like colored sand, shells, and figurines. Utilizing small, recently-planted cacti is the best option.

Cons of using glass cactus containers:

  • Glass containers are very unlikely to have drainage holes, which can lead to water logging and a buildup of moisture. This will result in root rot, which will ultimately kill your plant. You must exercise caution and give your plant some water each day, but doing so runs the risk of preventing water from penetrating the soil completely and reaching the roots.
  • Even an open terrarium is susceptible to fogging up and having an elevated humidity level within. Cacti require sufficient airflow and detest humidity.
  • Your cactus won’t be able to absorb water from the rocks in the bottom layer of soil if the dirt is layered. Roots cannot obtain water from rocks, and neither can rocks absorb it.
  • A glass container’s sides will quickly heat up and may burn your cactus and its roots. Your cactus may actually be cooked to death if you put it in a terrarium out in the sun.

Metallic containers for cacti

Cacti cannot be grown in metallic pots. This is due to the possibility that rusting metallic containers could seriously harm cactus.

Additionally, metallic containers quickly experience excessive heat and cold, and cacti detest abrupt temperature fluctuations.

Conclusion: Ceramic (terracotta and glazed), plastic, and hanging (may be ceramic or plastic as well) pots are the ideal containers/pots for growing cacti. Glass containers should only be used temporarily (or not at all), and metallic pots should be avoided.

Does the size of the pot matter?

It does, indeed. You’ll observe that succulents are described in precise measurements when purchasing one. The length of the cactus is unaffected by a 4 cactus. In its place, it refers to the size of the plant-appropriate pots.

The size of the pot should allow for the plant to grow naturally as if it were its natural habitat, according to the general rule to remember while selecting the appropriate planter size. Usually, large pots are not necessary for cactus plants. The roots will be confined by a little container, leaving no place for the earth, nevertheless. However, if you select a large container, you’ll probably overwater the plant. Therefore, picking the ideal size for the cacti is quite crucial.

The depth

The pot’s depth is also very important since, if you choose the incorrect depth, it could hinder the cactus’ growth. The type of succulent you are planting will determine the depth. The depth of the pot should correspond to the rate at which your cactus will naturally develop. Get a deep pot for your cactus if it grows tall and has a tendency to have deep roots. If the cactus has shallow roots, a shallow pot can be used with ease.

Keep in mind that one of the main reasons you need to repot is the depth factor. When a plant is young, it often has a tiny root system and needs a small pot to prevent overwatering. You will need to repot it as it grows after a few years to accommodate the expanding roots and avoid the roots becoming tangled in the small container. Checking the drainage holes at the bottom of the pot is the only surefire technique to determine whether you need to repotter. It’s time to repot into a larger pot if there are protruding roots.


There are many cactus species with shallow roots that spread out horizontally. Deep pots are not ideal for growing these kinds of cactus. As a result, always learn as much as you can about the cactus species you’re buying or cultivating.

Such a species’ roots will start to appear on the container’s sides if you put it in a long, narrow pot. After that, it’s time to repot the cactus into a larger container.

The width of the plant is another suggestion to assist you in choosing the proper width for your cactus. Choose a pot that is only 10% broader than the cactus after measuring its width. Choose a pot that is only 4.5 inches wide for a plant that is 4 inches broad.

Is it possible to grow several types of cactus in a single pot?

It is, indeed. You must, however, be aware of how each plant grows before selecting the pot. Although most cacti grow slowly, others can grow really quickly. You might need to repot them soon if you pot these species alongside the ones that grow slowly.

Therefore, choose the species that have comparable traits while picking a pot to grow several cactus species. Give them a big bowl so they are not crammed inside the pot. Be aware that you must pay close attention when caring for multiple cacti in a single pot. Make sure that neither the size of the pot nor the soil’s other characteristics favor any particular species while straining the others.

What sort of container should I use for my cactus?

Rebutia and mammillaria cacti make lovely, low-maintenance house plants and are ideal for a sunny, bright windowsill.

Cacti should be grown in specialized cactus compost or free-draining compost for optimal results. Terracotta pots work best for cacti because they are porous and allow air and water to circulate about the compost. Plastic pots are more likely to retain moisture, which could lead to root rot. Less frequent watering and careful monitoring of the cactus compost are advised when growing cactus plants in plastic containers.

Contrary to popular belief, cactus require watering in the spring and summer. Between waterings, let the compost somewhat dry out until September, when watering needs to be scaled back to accommodate dormancy.

Repot your cactus every three to four years or when the roots extend over the edge of the pot to prevent them from becoming pot-bound. This is the procedure.

Will a cactus expand in a larger container?

Many seasoned gardeners advise using a container with a diameter that is roughly 10% greater than the cactus plant’s widest point. Consider a container that is around 4.5–5 inches in diameter if your cactus plant, for instance, measures about four inches across at its broadest point.

These dimensions take into account both the above-ground and underground parts of your plant.

Your cactus will have enough room to develop in a good-sized container without having too much soil or having the roots crowded.

Potting multiple plants in one container

You could be debating whether it’s appropriate to grow more than one plant in a single pot at this time. It is acceptable to place multiple cacti in a single container, but you must use caution. Make sure the plants demand the same amount of light and water for growth, for example.

For instance, a jungle cactus and a desert cactus might not get along, yet you can grow an Echinocereus sp. and a Mammillaria sp. in the same container (desert cactus). Before combining plants, you should also take each plant’s pace of growth into account.

Fast-growing plants and slow-growing plants can both be potted together. Things won’t go well if you mix fast-growing and slow-growing cactus in the same pot. The fast-growing cactus will typically throw off the composition of your garden and force you to remove it because it will crowd out the slower-growing species.

Make sure to take into account the number of plants you intend to place in the same container when picking your pot. It is up to you in this situation to assess how much space each plant will need to avoid overcrowding using your best judgment and instinct.

Remember that most cacti plants require a lot of light to thrive as well. Therefore, make sure to leave enough space so that each plant may get enough light without obstructing others.


The right pot size for your cactus will always alter as the plant grows because potting is a continual process.

You will need to move it into a bigger pot as it grows. Use a pot that is about one or two inches wider in diameter than the previous container, according to gardening experts.

This will enable the growth of your cactus without endangering its health through excess moisture or dirt.

Be careful with cuttings

Make sure you are using an exceptionally shallow pot when planting cacti cuttings. Cuttings are easily harmed by excessive wetness or by being planted too deeply.

When potting cuttings, the comparatively smaller containers that you might not use with your larger plants always perform best.