How To Plant Cactus In Ground

Advice about planting, relocating, and taking care of cacti and succulents

Many claim that before beginning to grow cacti and other succulents, they could never keep plants alive. These plants are trying to live. They are typically simple to grow as long as they have good drainage, lots of sunlight, and protection from freezing temperatures. They are also evergreen, pest- and disease-free, and drought tolerant, making them attractive in the garden all year long. The list of top cacti and succulents for your Western garden is provided below, along with some of our most important advice for making your cactus garden a success.

The Best Varieties to Grow

There are numerous varieties that give appeal to your yard, such as agaves, aloes, and barrel cacti. See our picks for year-round, low-maintenance beauty.


Cactus should be wrapped in heavy carpet padding or foam while being brought home from the nursery. This guards against harm to both the plants and your skin. Make sure you also wear gloves.


Wearing thick leather gloves will shield your hands while you are working with cactus that have spikes. Some gardeners advise putting on two pairs of gloves—one pair of rose gloves and one pair of leather work gloves.

Plant Wisely

Similar to any other plant, cacti and other succulents can be planted. Create a hole that is 1.5 times as wide and as deep as the root ball. Take the plants out of the pot (wearing protective gloves and safety glasses). Put your plant within the opening. If necessary, you can fill the hole with granulated succulent and cactus plant food and mix it with the soil for the backfill. With well-draining modified soil, fill up the area surrounding the plant. Lightly tamp down the earth and moisten it. Spring, late summer (if your region gets freezes), or early fall are the best times to plant (in warmer climates).

Give Them Some Space

Make sure you allow those tiny succulents and cacti you bought at the nursery plenty of room because they can grow into big plants. Many also generate pups or offspring that grow into clumps resembling colonies.


A cactus can rot or die if it receives too much moisture. In order to monitor the soil’s moisture content and ensure that your cactus isn’t receiving too much water, stick your finger a few inches into the soil. There is no need to water if there is any moisture. Make sure your irrigation system also stops watering during rainy weather.


Use pots with drainage holes on the bottom for potting succulents or cacti. To assist prevent the drainage hole from being clogged, fill the bottom of the container with fragments from broken pots or a lot of pebbles. When planting, make sure to use a cactus mix that contains pumice since it improves drainage. Rocks can be used to create a beautiful impact and to keep soil in place.


Water plants on a regular basis using a drip system twice per week. Water can be used in very small quantities. In hotter months, hand-water plants as necessary.

Succulents and cacti still require sufficient water every three to five days until the plant roots are developed. Make sure to water your plants or check that your irrigation system is getting to the roots if there isn’t any rain.

After the first year, water less. You don’t need to water plants as frequently once they’ve established themselves. After the first year or two, many succulents and cacti can even stop receiving irrigation entirely. If they only receive rain, they will live and frequently thrive. Especially in the fall and winter, avoid watering.


Although fertilising succulents and cacti is not required, some gardeners do it because it can promote faster growth and better flowering. A popular liquid plant food that may be applied in the spring and fall is Grow More Cactus Juice. It’s also acceptable to dilute the mixture before applying it if you fertilise frequently. After fertilising, water the plants.

Provide Protection in Freezing Temperatures

Many cacti and succulents may survive in temperatures as low as 25 to 30 degrees without suffering any harm. However, some plants, such the ocotillo and Yucca rostrata (big bend yucca), can withstand temperatures as low as zero degrees. If your garden frequently experiences cold weather, be sure to choose hardy species or grow plants in containers that can be brought within for the winter.

Our Favorite Sources

Cacti and succulents can now be found in many different places. Start at a nursery in your neighbourhood. There’s a good chance they have a good assortment or can guide you to a speciality grower.

Can I grow cacti on regular soil?

Yes, you can give your cactus plants either standard potting soil or African violet dirt. However, once more, avoid using these on their own as they contain an excessive amount of organic matter that retains moisture and can contain fertiliser additives that are not designed for slow-growing cacti. Instead, incorporate them as one component of your homemade cactus potting soil.

How deep should cacti be planted?

Cactus roots assist in preserving and collecting water in a number of different ways. Some cacti have vast, lateral root systems that grow shallowly away from the plant (e.g. some prickly pear roots spread 10 to 15 feet away). The shallow roots help the plant maximise water intake from a wide region in brief rains that only moisten a few inches of soil.

As the water supply changes, cactus roots also undergo physical changes. Following a downpour, existing, parched roots become more water conductive, and fresh, water-absorbing rain roots emerge. The rain roots shrink and fall off during droughts, while the existing roots dry up. Existing roots contract, forming an air gap that helps keep water from leaking out of the roots and returning to the soil. Water loss can also be reduced by a corky layer covering the roots.

That may be the case in a desert, but we have discovered that in a thickly planted garden with water present in the (fast-draining) soil (that you have added to or modified in your garden), the roots can be deeper. Roots will seek water deeper rather than wider due to competition amongst nearby plants, something they won’t do in the desert but will in your garden, and they’ll want to stay there once they do.

In fact, we’ve noticed that over the winter, they will sink till they reach the water table before rotting off and rising back to the drier portions of the soil, which also tends to correspond with the depth at which you modified your soil to make it more quickly draining.

As a result, they will spend the first few weeks of spring establishing new roots before beginning to grow new branches. This cycle occurs every year, and if your soil hasn’t been modified deeply enough, the cactus will finally collapse.

The Takeaway: Be sure to modify your soil so that it drains quickly and is deep enough so that the roots have enough space to grow and survive the winters. At least 2 feet of depth is advised for larger cacti, and they shouldn’t be crowded too closely together either. Give the roots space to expand above the water table over the winter.

How can I get my soil ready for cacti?

With little effort on your side, buying pre-made cactus soil guarantees that it includes everything the cactus needs. Perlite, pumice, sand, and gravel, in the proper proportions, are included in pre-made cactus soil, along with a negligible amount of peat moss or coco coir.

However, you also have the option and it’s simple to make your own cactus soil mix! Combine two parts perlite or pumice, three parts coarse sand or gravel, and three parts potting soil. Use caution when using fertilizer-containing potting soil blends because they can scorch cacti roots and promote lanky growth.

What kind of soil should you use to grow cacti?

Contrary to most movie sequences, cactus flourishing on pure sand is not a positive thing. A rocky, nutrient-rich soil kept in a well-draining pot or container is what desert cactus, also known as Opuntia cactus or hairy old man cactus, prefer. Ascertain that nutrients such peat moss, coconut coir, pumice, perlite, or vermiculite enable a suitable balance of the soil’s aeration and drainage qualities.

Avoid using forest goods like wood chips and pieces of pine bark and instead start with a base of regular potting soil. Pumice, a light-weight and porous volcanic rock, should be added in two parts. In the absence of those materials, you can use vermiculite, perlite, NAPA oil dry number 8822, aquatic plant soil, non-soluble cat litter, or chicken grit. This component is essential because it provides adequate aeration and allows water to move through your potting mix fast.

Add some coconut coir lastly. This breaks down gradually, adding structure and aiding in the cactus mix’s ability to retain moisture. In contrast to peat, it is also wettable and does not compact during the wetting process.

Cacti Soil For Jungle Cactus

Both lithophytic and epiphytic cacti are fairly universal in the jungle. In other words, they can grow on rocks or rely on the nearby trees to live.

Such cactus species

The orchid cactus has the unusual capacity to obtain its daily requirements from the air as well as from dead leaves or other detritus left in crevasses and fissures.

Therefore, you’ll require a potting mixture containing oak leaf mould, pumice, coconut coir, peat moss, bat guano, and some orchid bark or fir bark to replicate the jungle cactus’ natural growing environment.

Epiphytic cactus require potting soil that resembles that used for desert cacti. After that, you’ll need to make some adjustments.

  • Pumice, 1 part, to lessen soil compaction
  • coarse orchid bark in two pieces

Compared to simply adding extra ordinary potting soil to the mix, this provides better aeration properties. But with time, the bark degrades and eventually turns into soil, indicating that it is time for repotting.

These are merely a few good cactus potting soil examples that you can use. Of course, the ideal mixture will vary depending on the sort of cactus you want to cultivate, and you’ll also need to prepare the other two key growth settings, namely water and light.

Making your own cactus soil mix is fun in part because you can experiment to see what works best for your favourite succulent and cactus plants.

How frequently do cacti need to be watered?

The most frequent reason for cacti failure is improper watering, whether it is done too much or too little. Cacti have evolved to store water for extended periods of time and can maintain moisture through droughts because they are endemic to arid regions and dry temperatures. They have a limited capacity, which is why over-watering can result in a variety of issues.

When it comes to regularity, watering your cacti will largely depend on the season but also on the variety. Checking the soil is the easiest technique to determine whether your cactus needs water: It’s time for a drink if the top inch is dry. That entails applying the “soak and dry procedure” on cactus.

What is the soak and dry method?

The soak and dry technique is thoroughly wetting the soil until part of it begins to flow out the drainage hole, then waiting until the mixture is nearly dry before wetting it once more. If done properly, this strategy will help them endure a period of under-watering should you need to travel or leave the house because it takes use of their natural tendency to store water (or if you just get busy and watering falls to the wayside, as happens to all of us now and again).

Watering during the growing season versus the inactive season

Like with many houseplants, the season affects how frequently you need water. It becomes more crucial that you get in the habit of examining the soil to determine whether your cacti are thirsty. A healthy cactus needs watering every one to two weeks during the growing season, according to general wisdom. The frequency changes to once every three to four weeks during the off-season.

Even then, it’s crucial to examine the soil. The same way that not all interior spaces and not all cacti are alike. The only way to be certain that your cactus require watering is to carefully examine the soil to determine how dry it is because there are so many different factors.

Are cactus sun-dependent?

Nowadays, cacti and succulents are highly popular indoor plants, therefore taking good care of them is crucial. They occur in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, ranging from the small to the enormous. Because they share traits that enable them to endure in arid conditions, cacti and succulents belong to the same category.

The majority of succulents and cacti are endemic to desert environments. They will therefore thrive in conditions with lots of light, good drainage, hot temperatures, and little wetness. However, some cacti and succulents, like Schlumbergera, enjoy semi-shady and wet environments because that is their natural habitat.

The easiest way to take care of cacti and succulents is to try to mimic their natural environment. The essential factors you should take into account when taking care of your succulents and cacti are listed below.

Light, temperature and ventilation

It is advisable to arrange cacti and succulents in a bright area because they do best with good light sources. A place that faces south will get plenty of light. But be careful not to place them in direct sunlight since the strong light may cause the plants to turn yellow. The best kind of light for growing cacti and succulents depends on the species that you are using. For instance, forest-dwelling epiphytes like Rhipsalis require some shade, whereas an Echeveria requires strong light.

It is ideal to keep the plants cool at night, between 8 and 10 degrees Celsius, during the fall and winter. The plants will survive in high temperatures, but they require sufficient ventilation in the spring and summer.


Since Westland cacti and succulent potting mix has included girt and sand for the best drainage, it is a good compost to use. Additionally, it has the ideal quantity of nutrients for your succulents and cacti.

Watering and feeding

It’s a popular misperception that succulents and cacti just need a tiny bit of water. Although their leaves and stems can store water, allowing them to survive in dry environments, they will not grow in environments with little water. Your cactus or succulents’ ability to develop successfully depends on regular watering. Underwatering results in shrivelling while overwatering stunts growth.

Instead of using tap water to water plants, use lukewarm rainfall. This is because the minerals in tap water can settle on the leaves and accumulate in the soil. Additionally, minerals obstruct the plant’s access to vital nutrients.

Spring and summer

The plants need to be watered at least once a week during the growing season. Give the soil a good soak when watering, letting any extra water run away. Every time you water the compost, give it a little time to dry out.

Utilize Westland Cacti and Succulent Feed, a recommended recipe to use, to feed your plants once a month. They create more robust growth that is more resistant to disease and has superior flowering thanks to it. Simply take a 5ml quantity of the feed from the dosing chamber and mix it into 1 litre of water.

Autumn and winter

The plants enter a period of rest at this time. Reduce watering so that the potting mix dries out in between applications. The type of succulent and the environment it is in will determine how frequently it has to be watered. Winter-flowering cactus should be kept warm and watered frequently now, whereas desert-dwelling cacti don’t need to be watered. Cacti and succulents don’t need to be fed during this time.


The optimal time to repot cactus or succulents that are pot-bound is in the spring. To replant:

  • Before carefully taking the plant from the pot, water it and let it drain. Use folded paper to shield your hands from the spikes.
  • To avoid damaging the roots, remove the old soil from around them with a thin stick, like a chopstick.
  • The new container, which has a slightly larger diameter, should be filled with potting soil before placing the plant inside of it.
  • The remaining potting mix should be added to the pot and compacted.
  • To stop the rotting of injured roots, stop watering for a few days.

The finest care for your succulents or cacti comes from maintaining these conditions. The most crucial thing to keep in mind when taking care of your plant is that you are trying to mimic its natural environment!